DevelopmentGilgit - Baltistan

Conference organized by KIU and PIDE concludes in Gilgit

GILGIT: (PR) A two-day devlopment focused conference organized by Kararkoram International University (KIU)GilGit, in collaboration with the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), concluded today.

Addressing the conference on the first day of the event, Khalid Khurshid Khan, Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan, had emphasized the importance of the rule of Law for any societal development. He had further said that smallholder farmers in Gilgit-Baltistan play a vital role in the region’s economy. However, to tap their true potential, the regional government needs to introduce targeted measures to increase their productivity in terms of agriculture and livestock.

Dr. Nadeem ul Haque Vice-Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad, had said that the 2-day conference is a unique opportunity to focus on the development of this region. Through this conference, we aim to create an agenda to shape the future of Gilgit Baltistan and ensure its prosperity.

Dr. Durre Nayab, Pro VC of PIDE, explained the vision behind collaboration efforts under the banner of the PIDE Conference “Gilgit Baltistan Beyond Mountains.” A major focus of this conference is to meet and greet local people discuss their issues, and come up with a solution that just is community-driven development.

Earlier, in his online address, Mr. Shoaib Sultan Khan said that the development of Gilgit Baltistan has been hindered by several obstacles, with poverty being the main issue. Poverty has led to a lack of access to essential services such as education and healthcare and has caused a decrease in economic opportunities. As a result, many people cannot rise above the subsistence level and escape poverty.

In the session of the “Charter of the Economy,” speakers stated that it is essential that the focus be placed on rural development in GB. We always learn from people, so sit with the local people, discuss their issues and vision, and help them achieve that vision instead of coming up with it.

They also said that you couldn’t provide certainty when there is a weak rule of Law, which is why we can’t use resources properly. But, unfortunately, Pakistan is gritten by bureaucrats.
If you have a real representation of government, you have a grip on democracy.

Panelists further stated that despite being at an important geostrategic location, People of the land don’t have constitutional rights and that Gilgit Baltistan is the only region with no separatist movements because they wholeheartedly love Pakistan.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan have always been sandwiched in political wars, and its economy is Zero.

“Until GB gets representation in the federal government, it will not pay taxes, and if it does not pay taxes, its economy will never grow,” was added.
An overwhelming number of Karakorum University students and academia participated in the event and shared their insightful ideas on multiple issues related to political and economic Underdevelopment of Gilgit Baltistan.

At the end, there was a cultural and musical performance from the youth of Gilgit Baltistan.

On the second day of the conference, Prof. Dr.Atta ullah Shah VC KIU and Dr. Nadeem ul Haque PIDE shared their thoughts about the Day 1 of the conference Gilgit Baltistan Beyond Mountains.

Prof. Dr.Atta ullah Shah VC KIU and Dr. Haque VC PIDE said that inclusion of society is a critical factor in the development process. It is essential to ensure that development initiatives are for the people, by the people, and for the people. To achieve sustainable development, it is crucial to involve the local community in every step of the process. Female entrepreneurship is a vital component of development. Women are essential contributors to the economy, and their participation in business ventures can lead to significant growth and development.

VC KIU and VC PIDE further said that democratic values and good governance are indispensable for society to prosper. Good governance does not only refer to political leaders but also all levels of institutions. It is essential to ensure that institutions are transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs of the people they serve. Conversations matter in the development process. Dialogue and engagement with the community can lead to better outcomes and foster trust between communities and development organizations. Deep restructuring is necessary in Gilgit Baltistan to ensure sustainable development. This requires a comprehensive and integrated approach to development that addresses the root causes of poverty and inequality.

Panel Discussion on “Markets, Regulations and Border Trade” was moderated by Dr. Ahmed Waqas. Speakers from GB shed light on how markets, regulations, and border trade can contribute to the economy.

Aziz Ali Dad said that, as it is widely known, there are two prominent models in the political and economic spheres: socialist and liberal. The West has predominantly embraced the latter, which prioritizes limited government involvement in the markets and allows for their development. However, Pakistan’s economic landscape is quite different, with the government’s presence being prevalent, accounting for 70% of the economy. This has resulted in high costs of regulations. As for the region of Gilgit Baltistan, there are restrictions on visiting the border, making it challenging to explore its potential resources and do border trade with other countries. Nonetheless, the area is rich in resources, making it a promising region for development. In light of this, it is important to identify ways to reduce the government’s footprint and encourage private sector participation, which is currently at 20%, to help boost the economy and promote growth.

Other speakers said that Gilgit Baltistan is an exceptional destination that offers much more than just tourism. Our focus is on enhancing its market structure, including the real estate market. However, government regulations have made it challenging for us to develop the land. Unfortunately, the lack of a proper market concept and strict government regulations deter new entrepreneurs from entering the market. As a result, we are committed to addressing these challenges to pave the way for a more prosperous business landscape.
The moderator concluded the session by paying special attention to the main markets, tourism, construction, and education in the region. He also said that like other places, Gilgit Baltistan is also facing regulatory problems.

In the session on” Perpetual Energy Crisis,” speakers told that the perpetual energy crisis in Gilgit is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. There are several legal framework issues that are contributing to the problem. One of the main issues is the delay in government approvals, which is generating further issues. This delay is causing a lack of new investors due to government regulations, which is hindering progress in the region. In order to address this problem, there needs to be an independent legal framework that can support the development of energy projects in Gilgit. This framework should prioritize proper management transparency to ensure that the projects are developed in a responsible manner. Additionally, Gilgit is facing multiple crises, including infrastructure issues, political issues, and demand-side issues. It is important to generate community-based initiatives that can help address these issues.

Furthermore, Mr. Liro Ersado, a Representative of the World Bank, while presenting the “World Bank: State of Human Capital in Pakistan,” said that Pakistan needs to create safe and supportive schools. It can reap dividends from Two phases of the demographic transition. As Pakistan’s working-age population is about 60% time to reap demographic transition. Pakistan can reverse 40 years of lagging growth and become a growth leader by investing in Human Capital.

He further said that Pakistan’s human capital complex is much lower than expected, given the level of economic development. It can increase GDP growth up to 144% by slowing population growth, making sure child is in school, and ensuring basic nutrition.

While moderating the session “Education for Next Century” Dr. Shujaat Farooq, Dean, PIDE said that Countries that invest in education tend to have higher rates of economic growth and social progress. According to statistics, 40% of children have no access to basic education. This lack of access is a major obstacle to development in Pakistan, as it deprives individuals and communities of the tools they need to succeed.
In Gilgit, Pakistan, the labor market is in decline. However, there are four potential areas where the region can excel: leisure industry, horticulture, trade and commerce, and minerals as well as education. Unfortunately, there is no clear education policy in place to help support these areas. Therefore, there is a need for educational reforms in Gilgit to improve the quality of education and equip students with the skills they need to succeed in these fields.

The Conference concluded with a vote of thanks. Dr. Nadeem Ul Haque VC PIDE, and Dr. Durre Nayab, Pro VC PIDE, showed gratitude all the members who arranged this important event. They especially thanked Prof Dr. Atta Ullah Shah VC, KIU, Mr. Tazeem Akhtar, DG PR, KIU, and other members of the KIU faculty who worked tirelessly to make the Conference a success.

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