Bilawal warns against alienating people of Gilgit-Baltistan

: Giving powers of legislation to the bureaucracy in Islamabad and brazenly denying the people their rights is an affront to the people of Gilgit Baltistan that will have far reaching consequences for political stability.

This has been stated by Bilawal Bhutto Zardarti in a statement soon after the Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi announced enforcement of the so called reforms package for Gilgit Baltistan today. Khaqan’s announcement was greeted with pandemonium and a shouting match in the local Assembly as members vehemently protested.

The national parliament just passed a constitutional amendment bill taking away powers of President in respect of tribal areas to empower its people, he said referring to the 31st constitutional amendment. Just the same time the federal government has ambushed the people GB by taking away their powers and vesting it in the Prime Minister, he said.

According to the so called reforms package the prime minister will not only make laws for GB but can also override any law passed by the Legislative Assembly of the area he said and asked “could there be anything more ridiculous and provocative”?

The so called reforms package is a grave provocation and warned against the consequences of bull dozing it without taking the people and the GB Assembly into confidence.

Bilawal Bhutto assured the people of GB that the PPP will ensure that the right to legislate is vested in the GB Legislative Assembly. For all other matters enumerated in part 2 of the Federal Legislative List the national parliament and not the Prime Minister should make legislation as is the case for all provinces, he said.

The PPP cannot and will not allow the bureaucracy or any one individual to legislate for GB, be that individual the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

If the President can no longer legislate for the tribal areas why should the Prime Minister legislate for the people of GB, he asked?

Bilawal also questions sweeping restrictions on the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly on what to discuss and what not to discuss and called it a grave violation of the fundamental rights of the people.

All coercive laws including the one pertaining to the setting up of military courts have been extended to GB but human rights related laws are not, he said adding, “Such inhuman and degrading treatment of people of GB must come to an end before it is too late”.

Bilawal also questioned the definition of citizenship saying that it opened the door for exploitation of the local people by the outsiders and called for its review.

Furthermore, the provision that only retired judges of the High Courts and Supreme Court of Pakistan are eligible to become Chief Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of GB means that no citizen of GB can ever become the Chief Judge, he said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also demanded release of rights activists like Baba Jan Hunzai and others and a halt to the taking over of shamilat lands by the state.

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