Gilgit, April 16: Talks between the Gilgit-Baltistan government and the Gilgit-Baltistan Awami Action Committee did not prove to be very fruitful, despite of promises of accepting some of the demands.
Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah and his team have reportedly promised to lower the fees being charged at hospitals to 5 rupees per patient. They have also accepted to take emergency measures to resolve the energy crisis that plagues most of the region. The decision of lowering the fees was announced at the Dharna by GB Health Minister Gulbar Khan.
However, no immediate solution could be found to the core demand of the strike, i.e. the restoration of subsidy on wheat price.
On the vital issue of restoration of the wheat subsidy, the Gilgit-Baltistan government has reportedly agreed to request the prime minister for fixing the price of flour at 550 rupees per 40 kilogram. The GB government has said that the decision can only be reversed by the federal government.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Giglit-Baltistan has said that the decision of gradually increasing the price of wheat to bring it at 70% of the price being charged everywhere else in Pakistan had been taken in 2011, when PPP was in power in the center.
The decision had been taken in the presence of Senior Minister Muhammad Jafar, the then Chief Secretary and the Secretary Food department. It is pertinent to note that a signed copy of that agreement has been circulating in the regional media for many months.
A five member delegation met with the Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah under the leadership of AAC Convener Ahsan Ali Advocate, who was accompanied by Sheikh Shahadat Hussain, Maulana Nawaz, Ghulam Abbas and Safdar Ali.
The meeting continued for several hours. There were reports of the deterioration of the health of GB Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah during the meeting. However, this has been denied by the media officer in a press release.