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gilgit baltistan legislative assembly

Divided we fall: ITP feels cheated over opposition leader nomination

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: With both the treasury and opposition leaders in place, the newly-elected Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly has formally resumed business. The assembly’s single biggest opposition party, Islami Tehreek Pakistan, on Tuesday refused to sit with fellow opposition members, complaining it was cheated in the opposition leader’s nomination process.

As the proceedings started, Speaker Fida Nashad announced an opposition leader has to be elected before the house resumes proceedings.

Keeping ITP in the dark, GBLA’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl had already nominated Shah Baig two days back. After verifying the signatures of lawmakers, Nashad announced Baig as the new opposition leader. He read out an application submitted by the ITP saying, “We reject the nomination of the opposition leader because we were not consulted in this regard.”

With four members in the house of 33, ITP is the second largest party followed by MWM.

ITP leaders and Nashad’s negotiations did not result in a happy seating arrangement however. “Let me tell you Mr Speaker, we do not want to sit with these parties. Our seats should be kept separate,” said ITP lawmaker Captain (retd) Sikandar. The speaker asked the party to choose between the treasury and opposition benches. “We do not want to sit on the treasury benches either,” was Sikandar’s response. “You do not have a third option,” Nashad retorted. Another ITP leader Muhammad Shafie also voiced similar reservations and asked the speaker to order fresh voting for the opposition leader’s post.

Budgeting for G-B

Once the scrimmage was over, the budget discussion formally commenced. G-B’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16 was presented in the house on Sunday. With little time at hand to scrutinise the plan, parties generally looked disinterested in a debate. PPP’s Imran Nadeem said the budget was acceptable since the incumbent government had little time to prepare it. The discussion continued till the filing of this report.

G-B Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman presented the Rs31.921 billion budget in the legislative assembly on Sunday instead of the speaker. Up to Rs21.984 billion has been allocated for non-development expenditures while a sum of Rs9.937 billion has been set aside for development expenditures. The CM could not delay the budget’s unveiling even though he has not been able to name his entire cabinet as yet.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2015.

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