GILGIT: The Northern Areas Legislative Assembly has decided to return the budget documents to the finance department to review them in accordance with the `aspirations of the house’.
“Since the budget is to be reviewed so it is neither passed nor rejected,” Speaker Malik Mohammd Miskeen ruled.
Earlier, when the speaker informed the house that the assembly was to debate on the budget, PML-Q parliamentary leader Fida Mohammad Nashad said the budget should be returned for revision. He said there were points including ADP-related issues on which the house required full consensus.
Other members supported Mr Nashad after which the speaker decided to return the documents for review.
NALA DELEGATION: A ten-member delegation of NALA would visit Islamabad to inform the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas about the reservations of the house on the budget and share of lawmakers in development process.
PESHAWAR: NWFP Minister for Sports, Culture and Tourism Syed Aqil Shah has said Jashn-i-Chitral will be held with traditional zeal and enthusiasm from October 11 to October 15 wherein besides arranging programmes of tourists’ interest like tug of war, folk music, poetry, traditional Chitrali dance and adventure tourism events, Chitral Youth Football Mela will also be held.
He expressed these views while presiding over a review meeting regarding arrangements for Jashn-i-Chitral 2008 in Peshawar on Monday.
Besides others, Secretary Sports NWFP Sahibzada Fazle Amin, Director General Sports Iltaf Umerzai, GM STC Mushtaq Khan and Chairman CAMAT Sirajul Mulk attended the meeting.
Syed Aqil Shah said for successful holding of the festival, arrangements should be started immediately.
He said on the last day of Jashn-i-Chitral, NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti would witness the final of Chitral Youth Football Mela as chief guest and distribute prizes among the players.
General Manager STC Mushtaq Khan informed the meeting that STC would introduce new track at Kalash valley as well as trout fishing competition for tourists on the occasion while through proper projection it could become the second biggest touristi event of NWFP after Shandur Mela.
An organizing committee under the chairmanship of Secretary Tourism was formed with Muhammad Ali Shah as its secretary , while GM STC, Director General Sports, a representative of NWFP Sports Department, two representatives of STC have been included in the sub-committee.
Syed Aqil Shah directed the Secretary Tourism and organizing secretary of the committee to present a detailed progamme about the festival within a week.
By Our Reporter
GILGIT: The increasing and unprecedented popularity of Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance (GBDA) has not only sent a shock wave among the rulers but also perturbed the political parties in Pakistan.
These views were expressed by GBDA leaders including Ehsan Ali Advocate, Iqbal Advocate, Wazir Shafi, Mohammad Rafiq and Burhanullah while speaking at a press conference in Gilgit.
They said the recent statements of members of the so-called legislative assembly showed that they have totally lost public support and confidence and were trying to win support of the people under the garb of nationalism. They have also indicated formation of a nationalist party seeing the popularity of the nationalist forces in the region, they added. However, the people are now mature enough and will not play at the hands of such opportunists, the GBA leaders said.
They said as government of Pakistan, its secret agencies and administration officials posted in Gilgit-Baltistan were responsible for the over 61-yrear-long deprivation of the people of the region, the local so-called politicians were equally to blame for the situation. The recent political summersault of the legislative assembly members would on the one hand increase the sense of deprivation and give benefit to the exploitative forces and on the other cause embarrassment to the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan at the national and international levels.
The GBDA also condemned a statement of the Force Commander Northern Areas in which he had termed Gilgit-Baltistan a part of Pakistan. They also criticized his allegations that the nationalist parties were involved in creating law and order in the region by using money and alleged that the government’s secret agencies had in the past spent billions of rupees to spoil peace in Gilgit-Baltistan. They said they were also aware of those elements who were ever ready to work against the people for money and therefore the Force Commander should not try to conceal the facts and point finger at the nationalist parties.
They said the State Subject Rule was being violated at will in order to turn the local population into a minority in the region. For the last a few years, people from Sindh, Punjab and NWFP have been allotted land in the region and leases of mines have also been given to outsiders. When people of Yasen-Gindayi protested against leasing out of mines in their area to a Chinese company, a number of innocent residents were arrested and put behind bars and were tortured without any reason, they regretted.
They also alleged that nationalist leaders were being harassed and they were receiving life threats. The secret agencies are also taping phones of the nationalists, they alleged.
They said efforts were also under way to create suspicions among the public about the nationalists.
They said nationalist parties were neither against Pakistan nor any other country but were struggling to win freedom for the people of the region.
They called upon the international human rights agencies to take notice of the injustices done with the region for the last 61 years and threats being issued to the nationalist leaders.
They also demanded unconditional and immediate release of those arrested in connection with the Gindayi protest.
GAHKUCH: Elected representatives in the district and legislative assembly from Ghizer did not even bother to inquire after the welfare of the 30 citizens arrested during protests against leasing out of Gindayi mines to a Chines company.
The arrested people while talking to this correspondent in the City police station’s lockup said the Ghizer police had kept them in custody for the last over two weeks without any reason. They said they were facing physical and mental torture at the hands of the police.
They said by dislodging the firm named China-Pakistan Friendship Company they had done a good service for the area and safeguarded the natural resources of the people. However, they regretted that the elected representatives of the district had remained a silent spectator to the issue and even did not turn up to see them in the police station.
They said they had not committed any such crime for which they could be tortured.
They said under the law, they could be kept under police custody for only three to four days but the police had been keeping them in custody for the last over 12 days.
They called upon human rights organizations in the country and abroad to put pressure on the government for violating their legal and human rights and provide them justice.—Our Correspondent
By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD: The All Parties National Alliance, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, has criticised what it said a propaganda campaign launched by the establishment against nationalists of the region.
In a statement issued here, alliance chairman Advocate Mohammad Iqbal said a recent statement by the Force Commander, Northern Areas, showed that the establishment was perturbed over the rising popularity of the nationalist and progressive parties of the region.
He said efforts to involve the FCNA in politics would fail to serve the objectives of the establishment as the people of the region were well aware of the injustices which they have been facing for the last over 60 years.
Describing the FCNA’s statement violation of the Chief of Army Staff’s policy of disengaging army from politics, he asked the military officers to refrain from commenting on the political and constitutional issue of the area. He said for the last over six decades, the rulers have been telling the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that they were the citizens of Pakistan. He, however, said the region was neither part of Pakistan nor Islamabad can bring it under its constitution.
Describing the resolution of Northern Areas Legislative Assembly about the presidential election a farce, he said the so-called leaders of the region were responsible for keeping the local people subjugated for the last 61 years, adding now they were out to get as much privileges as possible from the government.
By Our Reporter
GILGIT: Due to rampant poverty and hunger, people are committing suicide in the country but the rulers have failed to realize the gravity of the situation and meet their expectations.
The masses were expecting a positive change after the downfall of General Musharraf but the new government not only failed to give them any relief but also failed to devise a plan to lessen their sufferings. These views were expressed by prominent nationalist leader Sher Wali Poonyali while talking to Bang-e-Sahar here.
He said the present price hike and poverty have compelled people to commit suicide but ironically the government was not bothered to resolve the public issues and the rulers were living a luxurious life.
He said those who never missed a chance to blame Musharraf for every ill had now come to power but were neither able to control price hike nor devise any policy to give relief to the poor.
He said wheat flour crisis, petroleum crisis and one after the other collapse of vital bridges had put the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in a bind. The administration of the region has even failed to give a semblance of relief to the locals during the holy month of Ramazan, he added. He said despite making tall claims, the administration could not control hoarding and profiteering in the area.
Even vegetables in the local markets have gone out of the reach of the poor. If the trend continued unchecked, the people would be unable to do Eid shopping, he added. He said poor people had to think about two times’ bread and had nothing to do with other affairs of the state.
GILGIT: The employees of Northern Areas Transport Corporation (Natco) have criticised media campaign against the managing director of the corporation, Mr Zafar Iqbal, and said some influential politicians and unscrupulous element were behind the campaign to achieve their own vested interests.
Addressing a news conference here, Jehangir Shah and other members of the employees’ committee said some disgruntled elements who had been sacked from the organisation were now playing in the hands of some political figures and private transport mafia.
They said these elements issued unnamed notices of strike on behalf of the labourers of the organisation.
They disowned what they said the so-called labour union and said it did not enjoy the mandate to represent the rights of the employees. They vowed to unmask such elements and frustrate their designs of damaging this public organisation which is the only major souce of employment in the poverty-ridden area.—A Correspondent
PESHAWAR: Member of the NWFP Assembly from Chitral Ghulam Mohammad on Tuesday urged the provincial government to initiate uplift schemes in his underdeveloped constituency to bring it at a par with developed areas of the country.
people of Chitral expect the provincial government will launch massive uplift schemes in the area which is far behind in communication, health and education sectors,” the MPA elected on Pakistan Muslim League- Q ticket from PF-90 Chitral-11 said.
The MPA said the constituency from where he was elected to the NWFP Assembly spread over 8,500 square kilometers and the people were facing tremendous problems due to dilapidated conditions of roads.
“Only 52-kilometer road is metalled in the areas spreading over 8,500 square kilometers,” the MPA said. Likewise, lack of teaching staff in the existing government schools and medical staff in the health centers was also a big issue of the area, where the students and patients have to cover a long distance to reach their schools and hospital. He said there were school buildings but no teachers while the existing basic health units (BHUs), rural health centers (RHCs) and other hospitals in the district sans required staff. “There are only two doctors working in the 34-bedded Booni Hospital against the 11 sanctioned post of medical officers,” the legislator said.
NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has pledged to allocate extra fund for his constituency to improve communication system, he said despite in opposition I had supported the provincial government in passing the annual budget.
Ghulam Mohammad, who had been in active politics since 1986, said Chitral, is the most peaceful district of the province that had great potential of tourism and hydel power generation.
“If small dams and power generation houses are built in Yarkhun, Terich and Laspur valleys, Pakistan will be in a position to export electricity to the neighbouring countries,” the MPA claimed.Ghulam Muhammad said the construction of Lowari Tunnel would not only permanently link Chitral with rest of the country but also help boost the economy of the district and province as well.
By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movemnet (GBUM) Manzoor Husain Parwana has said the local population of the region is faced with insecurity due to the monopoly of the alien bureaucracy. He said if efforts to turn the local population into a minority by settling outsiders in the region were not stopped, the area would see Fata-like situation.He stated this while addressing the workers of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA)’s central working committee here.He said to keep Gilgit-Baltistan clear of terrorists, extremists and anti-social elements, strict implementation of the State Subject Rule had become necessary. He said outsiders making huge properties in the region under the patronage of civil and military bureaucracy were a big challenge for Gilgit-Baltistan, adding if the trend was not stopped the future of the region would be unsafe.Mr Parwana said the brave people of Yasen-Gandayi had taken a bold step by raising voice against plundering of their resources by a foreign company.He said the people of Gigit-Baltistan should not take side with those who were hell-bent on selling the resources of the region at throwaway prices to outsiders. If we failed to protect our natural resources, our next generation would face starvation, he added.He said if the trend to allot land in Gilgit-Baltistan and issue leases to outsiders continued the people of the region would be compelled to take take any action to protect their land and resources. He said the consequence of challenging the honour of the local people would be disastrous.
Call for joint struggle to attain rights By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Nationalist leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir have called for joint struggle for the revival of the identity of the disputed region and for the attainment of constitutional, political and economic rights.
“The nationalist and progressive forces, both in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, should join hands and launch struggle for attainment of socio-political and constitutional rights usurped by the rulers of Pakistan for the last over six decades”, said leaders of All Parties National Alliance (APNA) while speaking at a press conference here.
Those who were present on the occasion included APNA secretasry-general Sardar Mohammad Sabir Kashmiri, press secretary Prof M.A.R.K Khaleeq, spokesman Wazir Shafi, Mirza Wajahat Hassan Khan, Arif Shahid and Manzoor Husain Parwana, member CEC of the alliance.
They said Gilgit-Baltistan has been denied its basic human rights only because it is part of the disputed Kashmir region.
They said Gilgit-Baltistan, which the government calls Northern Areas, has been kept deprived of all political, economic and constitutional rights for the last over 60 years. The same is the case with the people of Azad Kashmir. In the past both these regions had remained part of the Dogra rule. Therefore, it is necessary that nationalist and progressive parties in both Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir should join hands and launch a movement for attaining the political, economic and constitutional rights of the people.
They said APNA (Jammu Kashmir & Gilgit-Blatistan) was set up in the early 2001 to first end militancy and terrorism in the region and then launch a political movement to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people and ensure all basic rights for the masses.
Another objective of the alliance was to bring the people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan closer as they have been denied their due rights for the last over six decades. A number of political parties and other forces have joined the alliance and many were planning to join it. And secondly, people of both the region, especially the educated class, have started realizing the sufferings of the masses and are stressing joint efforts to resolve them.
The All Parties National Alliance leaders said they wanted the issue of Kashmir to be resolved through dialogue and at the same time wanted the governments of Pakistan and India to withdraw their troops and civilian officials from the region in accordance with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) resolutions and form self-governments in these regions.
They said Kashmir was not a religious but a national issue because at the time of partition of the subcontinent the 15 million people of the region were denied their due right of self-determination.
Therefore, we urge the international community to help us end the occupation of India and Pakistan on the region. They said they considered UN silence over the issue as a criminal neglect.
They also expressed concerns over allotment of land in the Northern Areas to non-local people and companies by the government of Pakistan.
They termed “violation of the State Subject Rules” the government’s move to allot land in the region to about 2,000 people and companies.
The APNA leaders demanded that the government should honour the resolutions of United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) under which Pakistan could not allot any land to non-local people or companies in Gilgit-Baltistan nor enter into agreements with other countries for any development project against the wishes of the local people.
The government has recently signed a number of agreements with China for the extension of roads and trade without taking the local population into confidence, they added.
They alleged that during the 61 years of independence, the government of Pakistan has constantly kept the people of the region under-developed and the area has been turned into a conflict zone due to the simmering tension with India over Kashmir. He said Pakistan was treating the area as its colony.
By DJ Mathal
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan who have been facing socio-political deprivation for the last over 60 years are now faced with yet another administrative crisis. The Pak-China Bridge built in 1976 was carrying the heavy weight of trucks and containers and two years back its fate had been written on the wall. But how could one expect its revival from those who never take mercy even on the sufferings of human beings. As a result, the bridge succumbed to the pressure after serving the people quietly for so long.
Unfortunately, the collapse of the Pak-China Bridge has broken the back of the people of the region who have not been provided any respectable means of communication by the power that be for the last over six decades. The dilapidated condition of roads and bridges has jammed the wheels of development in the region.
Latest reports indicate that the collapse of the China Bridge has also taken its tool on the Chinar Bagh Bridge on which heavy traffic has been banned. These two bridges were the only means of communication between Gilgit and its surrounding areas including Hunza Nagar and Gujal.
The wide and concrete China Bridge played a vital role in Pak-China trade and containers carrying import and export goods used this bridge to and from Kashghar in China. After its collapse, however, the movement of these transport vehicles has come to a standstill for the last many weeks, incurring thousands of rupees loss on the traders under the head of fares every day. Besides, the people of Hunza Nagar and Gujal are facing the brunt of the situation the most.
The China Bridge collapsed at a time when potato, an important cash crop of these areas, was ready to be transported to the markets. The production was good and the farmers were expecting good return for the crop but due to disruption in the communication it could not be supplied to the markets, causing loss of millions of rupees to the farmers. The Chinar Bagh Bridge which is being used as an alternative was also closed for trucks.
As a result, the cost of a bag of potatoes decreased from Rs2,000 to Rs800 while 75 per cent of the stock is rotting in godowns in the villages. It is feared that there would be no transport arrangements for at least one month and the loss incurred on other agricultural products’ trade would be up to Rs4 billion.
What the people of Gilgit-Baltistan can expect from the rulers of Pakistan who have been unable to construct a bridge in the area to keep the wheel of business going. Who will compensate for the loss of Hunza Nagar farmers? Had the China Bridge repaired and reconstructed on time, the situation would not have reached such an impasse.
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: The All Parties National Alliance (APNA) Jammu Kashmir & Gilgit-Baltistan chapter elected its office-bearers for the year 2008-09.
According to the results, chief of the Karakoram National Movement Mohammad Iqbal Advocate was elected chairman of the APNA, UK people’s National Party chief Waqar Kazmi was made Vice-Chairman, Sardar Mohammad Sabir Advocate of the JKLF Secretary General, and Balawaristan National Front’s Mohammad Wazir Shafi as central spokesman.
Others office-bearers are: Hasan Jehangir of Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance, Joint Secretary and Prof MARK Khaleeq of the National Awami Party as Press Secretary.
SKARDU: The Northern Areas Zakat Council has approved Rs18.395 million Zakat for distribution among the deserving persons in the six districts of the region.
Presiding over a meeting of the council, chief secretary Babar Yaqoob, who is also the chairman of the council, said all problems related to Zakat distribution would be resolved and the system would be made more transparent.—Correspondent
By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movemnet (GBUM) Manzoor Husain Parwana has said the local population of the region is faced with insecurity due to the monopoly of the alien bureaucracy. He said if efforts to turn the local population into a minority by settling outsiders in the region were not stopped, the area would see Fata-like situation.
He stated this while addressing the workers of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA)’s central working committee here.
He said to keep Gilgit-Baltistan clear of terrorists, extremists and anti-social elements, strict implementation of the State Subject Rule had become necessary.
He said outsiders making huge properties in the region under the patronage of civil and military bureaucracy were a big challenge for Gilgit-Baltistan, adding if the trend was not stopped the future of the region would be unsafe.
Mr Parwana said the brave people of Yasen-Gandayi had taken a bold step by raising voice against plundering of their resources by a foreign company.
He said the people of Gigit-Baltistan should not take side with those who were hell-bent on selling the resources of the region at throwaway prices to outsiders. If we failed to protect our natural resources, our next generation would face starvation, he added.
He said if the trend to allot land in Gilgit-Baltistan and issue leases to outsiders continued the people of the region would be compelled to take take any action to protect their land and resources. He said the consequence of challenging the honour of the local people would be disastrous.
By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: A meeting of the workers and office-bearers of Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Baltistan division at its officer here discussed grant of asylum to exiled BNF Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan in Brussels.
Addressing the participants, BNF central senior vice-president Haider Shah Rizvi, central spokesman Safdar Ali, divisional president Mehdi Akmal, joint secretary Anwar Shah and divisional organizer of BNSO Mir Mohammad Sahar congratulated the BNF chairman for the award of asylum to him in Brussels and also hailed the decision of the European Union and the government of Belgium.
They said the decision would go a long way in internationalizing the struggle of the people of Giglit-Blatitan for their rights.
BNSO LAHORE: Balawaristan National Students Organization Lahore also hailed the decision of the Belgian government to grant asylum to the BNF chief.
BNSO Lahore president Shamsur Rehman said the decision would help the people of Gilgit-Baltistan attain their rights. He also paid tributes to the services of Mr Khan in highlighting the issues of Gilgit-Blatistan at the international level. Chief organizer Babar Khan said we pay tributes to Kashmiri leader Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri, Afzal Tahir and Mumtaz Khan for helping the BNF chief in getting the asylum status in Brussels.
BNSO Lahore vice-president Riaz Rajput said Mr Khan had suffered hardship for the rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and deserved the right to get the asylum in the Belgian capital.