GILGIT: In what appears to be a push to get over the final hurdle, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman claimed on Sunday that leadership of Azad Jammu and Kashmir had consented to the idea of granting constitutional status to G-B.
Rehman’s comments came days after Indian media created hype quoting certain Kashmiri leaders who are opposed to changing G-B’s constitutional status.
“ Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Farooq Haider and I will be meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif soon,” said Rehman in an indirect reference to the understanding reached between the two regions over G-B’s new constitutional status.
The G-B chief minister said this while addressing a public rally organised to mark the 14th death anniversary of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) founding member Saifur Rehman, the late brother of the chief minister.
Saif was assassinated in 2003 by a relative for voicing his stance on sectarian peace in the region.
“We have had meetings recently and they [AJK] have no objections over G-B’s constitutional status,” Rehman told the well-attended rally.
The chief minister further disclosed that a file containing recommendations from Sartaj Aziz’s committee for the change of G-B’s status had also been presented to Nawaz, who is expected to announce the change in the constitutional status soon.
Rehman, however, did not elaborate on what changes had been proposed in the report.
“G-B will have what its people want,” the chief minister assured.
He said G-B would be able to extract maximum benefit from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), adding that nefarious designs of the region’s enemies would be foiled.
Referring to his slain brother, the CM said that Saif had been killed for promoting sectarian harmony in the region and that today that dream of a peaceful Gilgit had come true.
“Today, there are no ‘no-go’ areas in G-B and peace has been restored.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2017.