I can build Diamer, Bunji dams in five years:
By Our Correspondent..
ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said if he was given the chance, he would resolve the power crisis in the country by constructing the Diamer and Bunji dams within five years. He stated this during a meeting with PML-N Gilgit-Baltistan chief Hafiz Hafizur Rehman here. Mr Sharif also said that if the PML-N comes to power in the forthcoming elections, he would like to be inducted as minister for water and power so that he can work for the resolution of the power crisis by constructing dams which Pakistan has plenty of potential to build. He said after resolving the power crisis, he would be ready to retire from politics. The chief minister said that Gilgit-Baltistan was a strategically important region but the PPP government had ignored it during the last about five years. He said if his party comes to power, he would launch unprecedented development schemes in the region. He regretted that despite given the offer of establishment of a cardiac hospital, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan did not take interest. On the other hand, the governments of KPK and Balochistan approached the provincial government of Punjab requesting it to set up cardiac hospitals in their provinces. On their requests, we established two hospitals one in each province at a cost of two billion rupees, he added. He said he was planning to set up cardiac hospitals in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. The chief minister of Punjab also said that his government would set up a children hospital in Gilgit-Baltistan. On this occasion, the chief minister also sanctioned Rs500 million for the educational expenses of 65 students from Gilgit-Baltistan who are studying in technical colleges of Punjab. Like medical colleges, he also ordered that the quota of Gilgit-Baltistan students in all the engineering colleges in the province should be doubled. However, he added, that the Punjab Engineering Council had raised objection to this direction and he was going to talk to the prime minister of Pakistan to get the order implemented. After doubling of the seats, the number of students from GB would reach 28, he added. The chief minister said that 70 students from Gilgit-Baltistan were studying in medical colleges of Punjab and all their expenses were being footed by the Punjab government. He added that 1200 students from Gilgit-Baltistan have so far been given laptops by the provincial government of Punjab. He also said that 800 students from GB who would obtain 800 or more marks in the SSC and FSc exams would be provided free education in the educational institutions of Punjab. He said the GB government had already been informed about this offer of the Punjab government. On this occasion, the PML-N leader from Gilgit-Baltistan briefed the chief minister about the political situation in the region. He also thanked him for providing facilities to the students from GB in the province.
GB part of Kashmir
By Our Coresspondent
GILGIT: Parliamentary secretary and leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan Rehmat Khaliq has said that the issue of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is to be resolved under the UN resolution. Addresing a rally taken out in connection with the Kashmir solidarity day here, he said that Gilgit-Baltistan was part of Kashmir and the peoples of the two regions cannot be separated from each other. He said that some people were misguiding the masses by issuing baseless statements to the media. He said that unless we sit together and devise a joint plan our issues remain unresolved. The JUP leader said that the people of the region had been denied their basic rights for the last about 65 years and it was time the masses launched a decisive struggle to get their rights. He said in the past the people of GB had been standing by their brothers in Kashmir and they would be at their side in future as well.
‘Officials should not follow illegal govt orders’
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim league (PML-N) Gilgit-Baltistan chief Hafiz Hafizur Rehman has said that government employees in the region should not follow illegal and unjustified directions given to them by the chief minister and his cabinet members. He said like in Pakistan, the government in Gilgit-Baltistan will be facing accountability very soon. It may be noted here that generally it is the perception of the people that the PPP-led government in Islamabad would not be able to form government after the forthcoming general election to be held in May this year. After the tenure of the federal government ends, it would be difficult for the GB government to complete its tenure which ends in the year 2014. Talking to this correspondent here, Hafiz Hafizur Rehman said chief secretary Sajjad Salim Hotiana nad secretaries had set a good example of not following the illegal and unjustified demands and orders of the chief minister and his cabinet members. He said Hotiana had been brought to the office by the chief minister and his coterie but now when he is not toeing the lines of the rulers, the latter have launched a campaign against him. Earlier, he added, the same treatment was meted out to the former chief secretary Saifullah Chatha. He said that the people of the region were behind the bureaucrats and they have become fed up with the corrupt chief minister and his ministers who have failed to deliver during the last so many years. The PML-N leader said that he was of the opinion that after change of guards in Islamabad elections should also be held in Gilgit-Baltistan so that a new government can come to power. He said with the installation of a new government in Islamabad, his party would launch a drive in all districts of the region not for toppling the regime but to put the rulers on accountability. He said during the last about three years, the PML-N Gilgit-Baltistan had been trying its best through peaceful means to put the corrupt government on right track but it did not leave any impact on the rulers. He said after coming to power the PPP government had broken all record of corruption and bad governance and made the lives of the masses in the miserable. The PML-N leader said that the people of the area had become fed up with the rulers and wanted a change to improve their life.
A tribute to Chitral’s polo legend
By Our Coresspondent
CHITRAL: What strikes everyone about Chitral’s free style polo legend late Sardar Ahmed Khan is that he started playing the game at the tender age of 14 years and continued to shine in the field with the same zeal and vigour till his death on January 27, 2013. People of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan knew Sardar Ahmed as the captain of the Chitral-B team during the annual Shandur polo festivals. Inside Chitral, he used to play for the subdivision Mastuj and Kosht teams. With his death, a chapter in the free style polo has closed. Rudyard Kipling once termed polo as the game of kings and the king of games and his narrative has become part of the world’s classical literature. In the past, Kipling’s observation of polo as being the game of kings might have been wrong in the sense that polo once was everyone’s craze irrespective of the people’s socio-economic status. However, nowadays keeping horses has become a luxury and is confined to only the rich and elite class. But Sardar Ahmed qualified to be included among the king’s class as his farms housing a good number of horses of high breed, hounds, cows and oxen was not less sumptuous than those owned by ruling class and princess. Sardar Ahmed, who was born in the Mohmmad Begey tribe, had the temperament and likes similar to the old days’ princes, Nawabs, and elites of the subcontinent and the Central Asian states. Some of the known personalities of Chitral belonged to the family of Sardar Ahmed. They included Tariqullah, Abdus Samad Khan, Mohammad Rasul Khan, Mohamamd Ibal Khan and Mohamamd Saeed Khan. Prominent Khowar poet Mohammad Siyar gave the title of ‘Yaltar Kutaz’, which signifies bravery and valour, to Abdus Samad Khan. Mohammad Ibal Khan alias Dush Hakim was one of the prominent personalities of Chitral in the 20th century. The British rulers of the Indian subcontinent in their gazetteer had special mention of Mohammad Ibal Khan. Mohamamd Nadir Khan, one of Mohamamd Iqbal’s sons, made a niche in the literary circle through his poetry. His Khowar songs even today mesmerize people of the valley. Mohammad Saeed Khan made a name in local politics and during Field Martial Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies (BD) system he was elected as the chairman of the local council. Sardar Ahmed Khan was the elder son of Mohammad Saeed Khan. He was born in Kosht and passed his matriculation exam from the same village in 1972. During his school days, he started playing polo from the ground of Kosht. In 1976, when he was just 22 years of age, Sardar Ahmed was awarded Chitral’s highest award in polo called Polo Colour. This prestigious award was given to only the shining stars of the game. Continued on Page-4 A teacher by profession, Sardar Ahmed during his 44-year-long polo career won a large number of awards and brought homes numerous trophies and other awards. He also led his team to victory in 26 high-profile matches. Being a star of the game, it is acknowledged by all that Sardar Ahmed never deviated from the sportsmanship spirit. During his long career, it is said he never hurt the sentiment anyone neither got into even any altercation in the field. Rather, he was the one who always come forward to resolve on-the-field issues and asked others to avoid confrontation. Apart from his popularity in the sports, it was his humane nature of personality and love for peace that when the news of his death spread in the area, a large number of people reached his home and attended his funeral. Indeed in the death of Sardar Ahmed, we have not only lost a popular polo player but also a known personality who spent his life in promoting peace, harmony and tolerance. May his legacy live on.-chitraltoday.net
Mass protest against non-construction of bridge
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The residents of Hatoon valley, situated across Ghizer River of Gahkuch, headquarters of Ghizer District, continued their protest after their demands of reconstruction of suspension bridge was not met. Reports reaching here said in an extreme weather condition the residents continued their protest and renewed their pledge to go on a strike for indefinite period in case immediate steps for reconstructions are not taken. The suspension bridge that was swept away two years back by flash floods cut off the valley and people have to go a long way to reach district head quarters. The dwellers resorted to protest after their repeated requests were not entertained by the concerned authorities and they faced great difficulties. Patients and elderly citizens are worst hit by delay in construction of this bridge which was swept in 2010 floods. The protestors in a telephonic call told this correspondent that the Governor, Chief Minister and Chief Secretary issued directives for reconstruction of this bridge which was mere eyewash as there are no serious efforts. The protest staged on the busiest point of the small town would further continue if authorities don’t come to give solid assurance of addressing problems, the protestors vowed.
Hospital fee levy not my decision, says minister
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Health minister Haji Gulbar Khan has said that the decision to charge Rs200 from patients at the public sector hospitals of Gilgit-Baltistan had been taken by the chief minister without taking him into confidence. Talking to this correspondent here, the minister said that Chief Minister Mehdi Shah was interfering in the affairs of ministers and taking decisions unilaterally. He said to charge fee from the poor patients was not justified. It would not help resolve the financial crisis of the region but will bring a bad name to the government, he added. He said that eh was not in support of such a decision. He added that the chief minister had taken the decision after consulting the matter with the secretary health. The minister said that providing basic healthcare facilities to the masses was the responsibility of the government. Instead of ensuring all the facilities in the hospitals, the government ahs decided to put more burden on the poor patients.
NDMA, Focus ink deals on capacity building
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), signed a memorandum of understanding in Islamabad, says a press release. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qadri, Chairman NDMA, and Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer FOCUS Pakistan, signed the MoU, which entails cooperation in the field of capacity building of staff members and resource mobilization for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programmes; initiation and execution of joint DRR projects, based on the Public-Private-Partnership model and shared advocacy for mainstreaming of Disaster Risk Reduction by enhancing response capacity and awareness at different levels. Federal Minister for Climate Change, Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan, was also present at the signing ceremony. As part of the MoU, the two organisations will exchange knowledge and expertise, contributing towards improvement of planning, preparedness and response capacity in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction. In the past, NDMA and FOCUS have worked collaboratively on multiple projects implemented in different parts of the country. The MoU will initially remain valid for three years, till 2016. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, NDMA Chairman, said that the human induced and natural hazards facing Pakistan are immense and the risks can be reduced through collaboration and cooperation at different levels. He expressed hope that the MoU between NDMA and FOCUS Pakistan will pave ways for promoting DRR at the national level. Ms. Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan said that the different agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and its affiliated institutions have been contributing to the development of Pakistan for many decades now. She said that Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change are among the top concerns of the century and the challenges can be overcome by working closely with relevant government departments. She termed the signing of the MoU as an important step in the right direction and acknowledged the able leadership of Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qadri for making it possible.