Gilgit - Baltistan

Defiant legislators want Gilgit-Baltistan’s status defined before construction of mega projects

Our Correspondent

Gilgit, December 12: In a rare show of defiance, several key members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislatively Assembly, including Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah questioned Pakistan’s position vis-a-vis the constitutional status of their region. “When we talk of our rights they saw our region is disputed, but mega projects are being initiated in our region”, Mehdi Shah said, demanding protection of the rights of Gilgit-Baltsitan.

“We are in favour of the mega projects but we are negligent of our rights”, Shah said. He said that the region’s government should be taken into confidence before initiating the construction of Railway Track in the region. “Who will ensure that our rights are protected”, the visibly tense Chief Minister asked.

Several members of the assembly joined the chorus. MLA Mirza Hussain said that the Railway Track will start at Havelian and end at Kashgar and the people of Gilgit-Baltsitan will not be able to get any benefit.

The legislators also questioned the legality of the contracts and agreements signed by Pakistan with China for initiation of mega projects in the region.

MLA Aftab Haider said that Giglit-Baltistan was suffering because of the liberator’s unconditional accession to Pakistan.

MLA Rehmat Khanliq said that Railway Track and Motorway are needs of the time and those opposing the projects are trying to push the region back by several decades.

Nationalist leader, Nawaz Khan Naji, also opposed the construction of mega projects without determining the status of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The discussion started today after MLA Mirza Hussain presented an adjournment motion, asking the assembly to deliberate on the construction of Railway Track and other mega projects in the region. He said that the Gilgit-Baltistan region has deliberately been kept deprived for 66 years but mega projects are being constructed in the region without taking the region’s representatives in confidence.

It is pertinent to know that the the GBLA generally endorses whatever decision is taken by the federal government. The legislators, including a coterie of ministers and advisers, are generally seen praising mega projects. Therefore, the defiant tone in the assembly today has surprised many.

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