ISLAMABAD, Apr 3 (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Saturday administered oath to the members of the first Gilgit Baltistan Council with a pledge to bring its people at par with other provinces of the country. “Our endeavour has always been to treat the people of Gilgit Baltistan at par with other provinces and areas of the country,” the Prime Minister said while addressing the oath-taking ceremony held here at the PM House.
The Prime Minister said the government had also committed to inject an amount of Rs 15 billion in next five years for the rapid development of Gilgit Baltistan and to ensure its progress.
He termed ‘Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self governance Order 2009’ as a landmark step to give people of the area their due political and financial rights that had never been allowed before.
“It has been the sole privilege of the people’s government to give maximum autonomy to the people of Gilgit Baltistan,” he said.
Prime Minister Gilani assured that development funds for Gilgit Baltistan would be released at the earliest. He said with the start of work on the Diamer Bhasha dam, hundreds and thousands of locals will get jobs and the project will usher in an era of development and prosperity in the region.
The prime minister said the establishment of the Gilgit Baltistan Council will serve as a bridge between the government of Pakistan and that of Gilgit Baltistan.
The Council set up under Article 33 of the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009 comprises of its Governor as the Vice Chairman and its Chief Minister as member. The Council comprises six elected parliamentarians from Pakistan and an equal number from Gilgit Baltistan.
Prime minister Gilani said the Council will provide an opportunity to the representatives of Gilgit Baltistan to gain from the experiences of representatives from Pakistan and for them to have a better understanding of the issues and problems of the people of Gilgit Baltistan.
Gilani said the Council has been assigned 54 subjects for legislation including important areas of governance.
“It is now upto the members of the Council to ensure transparency, equity, justice, fairplay and efficiency,” he said.
He termed it a big challenge and hoped the members shall rise to the occasion to provide their selfless services in overcoming this challenge.
The prime minister asked the newly elected members to give practical shape to the aspirations of their electorate who have wholeheartedly welcomed the Gilgit Baltistan Council and the Gilgit Baltistan assembly.
He said it can be done through untiring efforts and commitment to bring about a change for the better. He said the new representatives were in a better position to run the affairs of Gilgit Baltistan in a better manner.
Minister for Kashmir Affairs Manzoor Wattoo said the empowerment of Gilgit Baltistan was the outcome of vision of the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party and paid tributes to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani for making it happen.
He hoped the Gilgit Baltistan Cabinet would be soon formed and its representatives will be able to serve their people in a befitting manner.
Prime Minister Gilani earlier administered oath to four members of the Council here at the PM house. Two members who could not reach Islamabad due to unavailability of flight will be administered oath later. Governor Dr Shama Khalid and Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah attended the ceremony.
Gilani also hosted a reception in honour of the Council members.