Saturday, 26 September 2015


Published September 26, 2015 | By Mir
GIGLIT: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the other day visited Attabad and inaugurated the realigned 24 kilometers portion of the Karakorum Highway (KKH), including three tunnels of seven kms and three bridges. The artificial lake at Attabad was formed during the 2010 flooding when a portion of the overlooking mountain slipped into a village killing 22 people and blocking the river.
About 30,000 people living upstream the Hunza river remained stranded and faced hardship incommunicating to and from other parts of the region. The lake submerged the portion of the KKH. Another aspect of the matter is that the promises to rehabilitate the displaced people from the artificial lake has not been fulfilled through the government of Pakistan in coordination with China rebuilt an alternative road to restore trade on the KKH at a cost of about 27 billion rupees and Nawaz Sharif termed the project a gift to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
During the visit of the prime minister to Gilgit-Baltistan, he also met the members of the legislative assembly. Later after his departure, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafeez Hafizur Rehman in a briefing about the demands put forward to Mr Nawaz Sharif told local media persons that the prime minister announced Rs6 billion for the construction of the Hunzal powerhouse, Rs2 billion for Kargah and Naltar roads and Rs2 billion for the establishment of a special force for the security of passengers on the KKH. He also said that Rs450 million would also be provided to the Gilgit-Baltistan government for the construction of a tourist resort near Attabad. Besides, he added, the reconstruction of the Gilgit-Skardu road would be started in three months and till that time the NHA had been directed to carry out a repair and patchwork on the busy road to facilitate the commuters.
The prime minister also announced to provide Rs3.5 billion for the construction of a cardiac institute in the Gilgit city, besides hinting at the establishment of another university in Gilgit-Baltistan. Political observers are, however, of the view that for the last 67 years the federal government has been treating Gilgit-Baltistan as a stepmother. Let alone political or constitutional powers, Islamabad has always been hesitant in releasing the meager budget allocated to the region every year. The usual mindset of the PML-N has always been clear: it is never ready to give political or financial powers but as compared to other parties is always ready to allocate funds for the infrastructure development especially for the construction of roads and bridges and complete such projects on time.
This time around the ruling party has also promised to launch a number of projects to generate electricity in Gilgit-Baltistan and the local people should take advantage of this to resolve the perpetual power crisis in the region. The projects announced in the power and road infrastructure sector would be highly beneficial for Gilgit-Baltistan but the need of the hour is that chief minister Hafeez should himself supervise the projects and ensure their quality and timely completion. Besides, the contracts of the projects should not be given to those contractors who in the past embezzled the public funds and left the projects midway and disappeared.
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan welcome the initiatives to launch the project but it is also ironic that the prime minister did not mince a word for the basic rights of two million people which have been denied to them for over six decades. During one of his earlier visits to Gilgit-Baltistan, he had announced that a committee would be constituted under the chairmanship of Sartaj Aziz to present to the government proposals to give constitutionals rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. But it is strange that the committee was abolished even before its constitution. This shows that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would not be getting their denied constitutional and political rights during the current tenure of the PML-N.
But Islamabad should understand the fact very well that due to lack of the political and constitutional powers, the sense of deprivation is increasing among the people of the region. If the prime minister is sincere in his claim that he loves the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, he should ensure that they got their due rights which have been denied to them so far. The people of the region have fed up with false promises and want a real turnaround in their life that should be emancipation from the yoke of slavery.__Bang-e-Sahar

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