ISLAMABAD: The high-level reforms committee, constituted last year by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to introduce constitutional reforms for Gilgit-Baltistan, has proposed further empowerment of the semi-autonomous region in its recommendations, the summary of which will be submitted to the premier shortly, it has been learnt.
According to official sources, the prime minister – who is scheduled to visit Gilgit on February 24 to address the joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) and GB Council – is likely to make an announcement about the region’s empowerment.
“The proposed package will address at least 80 per cent of deprivation of the area people,” GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman said while talking to Pakistan Today.
He, however, refused to share what the committee – of which he is also a member – “has proposed in its recommendations to introduce reforms” even better than those introduced by the Pakistan People’s Party-led government in 2009, when a provincial set-up had been introduced through the Gilgit-Baltistan Self-Governance Ordinance, 2009.
“As I am under oath, I cannot share (those) details (about the outcome of a number of meetings of the committee convened in Islamabad over the last nine months,” the chief minister said, adding that the new package would empower the region both financially and politically.
Pakistan Today had earlier learnt from Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that the summary had almost been finalised and would be submitted to the prime minister for approval in a couple of weeks.
According to sources, the committee will propose to the central government to grant representation to Gilgit-Baltistan in the National Assembly and Senate. “Instead of giving GB a complete provincial status, the committee will be floating a proposal for addressing the grievances of the area by granting it representation in the two houses of parliament,” they said.
“Three members each for the National Assembly and Senate will be elected from GB, but the area will not get its share in the Senate as enjoyed by other provinces,” the sources said of the proposal.
According to them, these three NA members will be elected from Gilgit, Diamar and Baltistan region through the set procedure of election across the country, while three members for the Senate will be elected by the GB Legislative Assembly.
The sources pointed out that the reforms committee did not suggest a complete provincial status for GB apparently due to international obligations regarding the Kashmir issue. But, they added, it did propose to the government to give Gilgit-Baltistan its due share and representation in the next NFC Award to bring it on par with other provinces.
Earlier, Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman had informed the reforms committee that the political parties in GB were on the same page as regards the resolutions passed by the GBLA on the constitutional matter, ie (grant of) complete provincial status to GB.
The reforms committee draws prime minister’s aide Sartaj Aziz as its chairman, and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, the chief secretary, Kashmir Affairs secretary, PM’s special assistant on law and representatives from the military as its members.