New govt a ray of hope for N.As people

Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday,April 5-11,2008

ISLAMABAD: The restoration of democracy and formation of a new government in Pakistan has given a new hope to the people of Northern Areas who have been seeking an end to the long ambiguity over their constitutional status, access to basic rights and creation of a peaceful atmosphere free from sectarian violence. PML-N Northern Areas chapter president Hafizur Rahman pointed out that both the PPP and the PML-N had given a commitment in the Charter of Democracy to give the people of N.As a system in accordance with their aspirations, and remove the sense of deprivation among them by including them in the decision-making process. He said President Musharraf made tall claims about bringing positive changes in the Northern Areas but did nothing for removing the sense of deprivation in the region. He said the constitutional status of Northern Areas had been left in a limbo and the fundamental rights of the people were denied. He said it was essential that the people of Northern Areas be given a greater say in determining their destiny and carrying out their day to day affairs. He called for greater efforts to end sectarian friction and to alleviate the socio-economic miseries of the people. He said though commitments had been made for gradual devolution of powers to the Northern Areas, but bureaucracy was further strengthened. He said soon after coming to power President Musharraf levied sales tax and income tax on imports through the Northern Areas, which led to decrease in the volume of trade. He said Musharraf also polluted the political environment by laying the foundation of PML-Q in Northern Areas in 2004 through a massive horse-trading by persuading seven members of the PML-N to switch loyalties. He said the rules of business framed by the government say that 50 per cent of secretaries would be appointed by promotion and 50 per cent by transfer, but only one of the ten secretaries was appointed by promotion. Likewise, he added, 25 per cent of the grade 18 officers were to be appointed by transfer and 75 per cent through promotion, but it was again the other way round. He said there was no system of check and balance against misuse of authority by government functionaries in the Northern Areas. Giving an example, he said an amount of Rs7 million was allocated merely for the renovation of the house of inspector-general of police. He said the Assembly rejected the budget by a majority of 25-4, but still it was implemented. He was of the view that if the hydro-electricity potential of Northern Areas was fully exploited, the country’s all energy needs could be met. He said according to a survey by Wapda, there was a potential of generating 80,000 mega watts of electricity from the Indus river alone.—Courtesy Dawn


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