Senate Adopts resolution for empowering people of Gilgit Baltistan

Islamabad: The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar calling upon the government to amend the Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order 2009 to empower the people of the area.

Speaking on the resolution Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the people of Gilgit Baltistan had voluntarily joined Pakistan and the area has critical geo-strategic importance for Pakistan as the route of Pakistan’s security, foreign policy and economy passes through it.

He said that the people of GB were governed by the 12-member GB Council headed by the Prime Minister. This supreme body for ruling GB is manned by the bureaucracy of the Federal Government..

Talking to the media he said that it is a colonial mindset that seeks to control GB through executive order from Islamabad and refuses to empower the local GB Assembly to control their own affairs. Under the Rules of Business the powers of the Council are exercised in its name by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan which regulates and controls the administration of GB directly, he said.

He said it is wrong to say that until a permanent settlement on the status of GB is arrived we cannot do anything for them. This is a ploy of the bureaucracy in Islamabad.

Empowerment orders in 1994 and 2009 were issued from Islamabad. The Islamabad based G-B Council has the powers to extend any Pakistani law to GB. Several laws including those against terrorism have been extended to GB, he said and debunked the argument that Pakistani laws cannot be extended, so why more autonomy cannot be devolved to the people of GB.

He said that the Empowerment Order 2009 was issued before the 18th Amendment. The 18th Amendment has set new standards for local autonomy and parliamentary control over the government which must also be applied to GB.

This calls for revisiting the Empowerment Order 2009 with a view to granting more autonomy and to protect the fundamental rights of the people of GB, he said. The Chairman then put the Resolution to vote which was adopted by the Senate.

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