Pak declares self governance for Gilgit, Baltistan
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
• People To Elect CM, Pak Prez Will Appoint Governor
• Assembly Will Have No Jurisdiction Over Defence, Treasury
• Decision Evokes Mixed Response
Islamabad, Aug 29: The Pakistan government on Saturday approved self-governance package for Northern Areas and Gilgit Baltistan.
According to the devolution package the area would have special status wherein the people would enjoy and exercise their political and administrative rights effectively. Responding to the long-pending demands of the people, the federal cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Pakistan prime minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, maintained that people of the Northern Areas would have their own chief minister and governor to ensure self-rule and good governance.
The cabinet meeting also decided that the elections in the areas would be held in October this year. Out of 36 assembly members 24 members would be elected directly whereas seven seats each would be reserved for the technocrats.
As per the devolution package the Legislative Assembly would elect its chief minister, whereas, president of Pakistan would appoint a governor for the area on prime minister’s advice. However, the Legislative Assembly of the NAs, to be called as Gilgit Baltistan henceforth, would have no control over defence and treasury.
The constitutional head of the region would be called governor and the incumbent regime’s minister for information Qamar Zaman Kaira would be the first governor of the Gilgit-Baltistan region. A council comprising 15 members would also be established in the area and the prime minister of Pakistan would be the council’s chairman.
It may be recalled here the president Parvez Musharraf had earlier announced an autonomy package for Gilgit Baltistan wherein the people were promised to have their own Legislative Assembly with full powers to present, discuss and pass the annual budget for the Northern Areas.
Commenting on the latest development the noted lawyer and former chief justice of Supreme Court of AJK, Justice Majeed Malik, said that before introducing such package the government of Pakistan should have at least consulted the Kashmiri leadership on both sides as the Northern areas are part and parcel of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir whose future status was yet to be determined.
“No doubt the people of NAs have been demanding for their genuine rights and the authority to rule its own area but as a matter of the fact this package is not enough to meet the demands of the people and secondly introducing the post of governor is also contentious as it reminds of the Dogra era wherein governor was supposed to be the in charge of Northern areas and Gilgit Baltistan,” he added.
Renowned columnist and writer Ershad Mehmood while describing the development as positive, said, “Owing to the unsettled dispute of Kashmir people of NAs have suffered a lot. This is a good omen they have been granted their legitimate political, democratic and constitutional rights without de-linking the territory from the erstwhile state and without causing any damage to the nature of the Kashmir issue.”
No doubt it is a matter of constitutional rights for the people of NAs as they were directly governed by federal bureaucracy without any proper system of representation but the ultimate status would be determined once the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is settled thereby giving the people the right to choose their political destiny.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Aug 2009 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Aug 2009 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Aug 2009 00:00:00 IST
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