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Voice of dissent: Senators to move resolution against G-B chief secretary

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: A group of senators have decided to move a resolution against Gilgit-Baltistan chief secretary.  The senators, who were in Gilgit-Baltistan to review projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, criticised the regional government for giving them the cold shoulder during their visit.

The senators expressed their discontent on Friday at Gilgit airport where they addressed the media before flying to Islamabad.

Seeds of discontent

“None of the top government officials, including the chief minister, governor and chief secretary, contacted us during [our] visit,” Muttahida Qaumi Movement Senator Mian Ateeq said. He was part of the special Senate committee.

The remarks by Mian Ateeq were also echoed by Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party of Balochistan leader Usman Kakar and PPP Karim Khawaja.

“We can’t do anything against the chief minister and governor but we will move a resolution against the chief secretary for this attitude,” Kakar said.

He added they realised only after visiting G-B that the region was not being treated fairly. “Discrimination against this region is far more than what we had thought before visiting,” he added.

Network of concerns

The committee, headed by Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Taj Haider, will submit its recommendation in Senate.

On the occasion, Haider said the purpose of visiting G-B was to meet various stakeholders and obtain firsthand information. “But now we are deeply concerned about this region as people here feel left out and [sidelined].”

Haider said they proposed various plans that could be incorporated in CPEC, 450 kilometres of which pass through G-B. “The Karakoram Highway should be made a double route and promotion of tourism should be the top priority as the region has vast potential.”

To a question, Haider said the committee would submit recommendations in Senate to settle the constitutional limbo of the region.

“G-B is a peaceful region, but the situation can’t remain the same if the issue isn’t settled,” he said. “In principle, the region can be made the fifth province of the country.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2016

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