Gilgit, April 29: An insecure judge cannot dispense justice. Anti-Terrorist laws have been implemented in Gilgit-Baltistan but empowering laws are absent. Gilgit-Baltistan is home to hundreds of thousands of people and ministers and other high officials should be very careful while talking about its status. If it is part of the Kashmir dispute why is not being provided with a Kashmir-like setup?
These were the views expressed by Senator Afrasiab Khan Khattak, who is also the Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan’s standing committee on Human Rights. He was addressing journalists at the Gilgit Press Club today.
He also said that the authorities entrusted with the Gilgit-Baltistan Council should be handed over to the Gigit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly. He said that until the transfer of power takes place the issues in Gilgit-Baltistan will not be resolved.
He also said that the region is disconnected from the National Grid and there is also no regional grid. He said that because of this the region’s power crisis is deteriorating.
He also said that a sub-committee has been formed under the leadership of Senator Farhatullah Babar which will work on the region’s issues.
Afrasiab suggested that a separate parliamentary committee should be formed at the central level to ensure that the region’s issues are addressed. He said that parliamentary committee on Kashmir is not paying attention to the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
He also said that the effects of the devolution made under the 18th amendment have not reached Gilgit-Baltistan which is an injustice. He hinted at an asymmetrical devolution of powers to Gilgit-Baltistan on the lines of the United Kingdom.
Senator Afrasiab also said that before going ahead with the Economic Corridor the federal government should address the grievances at the local level.
He also said that the languages of Gilgit-Baltistan are respectable and they are the languages of Pakistan. He said that Shina, Burushaski, Balti and Wakhi are important languages and people should feel proud of their languages. He also said that diversity should be seen as a strength.
Speaking at the occasion, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that under article 1 of the constitution, all regions that are and that will be part of Pakistan need to be treated alike. He said that there are no impediments to extending powers and laws to the region for welfare of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. He also said that there can be another empowerment order in the future to ensure legislative authorities for the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly. He said that all out efforts will be made to not only make recommendations for political empowerment of the region but also struggle to implement the recommendations.
He also said that Gilgit-Baltistan is playing a pivotal role in the defense, foreign policy and economy of Pakistan. He said that the Senators will work as mega phone for the demands of the people. He urged the people to raise their voice and make recommendations.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said that Gilgit-Baltistan has a key role in the security, foreign policy and economy of Pakistan. He said that myriad problems exist in the region but the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has come to the area to listen not only to the views of the government but also other political forces. He said that the committee will spend four days in the region and study the issues in detail before going back to the capital. He said that strong voice will be raised for the region at the floor of the parliament.
Other Senators also spoke on the occasion. They promised to raise various issues highlighted by the journalists, political activists and other stakeholders at the national level.