Differences should be backed by principles: PM

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Says GB Govt to enjoy more powers than other provinces under Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018

Our Correspondent

Gilgit

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday said that every party had a right to an opinion but differences should be backed by principles and the opposition should consider government’s stance. “Many people don’t want the powers to be transferred.”
Addressing the joint session of the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly and GB Council, the prime minister said the day would prove to be milestone for the GB as drastic amendments had been made to ensure development of the region and uplift of the people.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while spelling out the provisions of the newly promulgated Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, said the law would make GB government even more powerful than other provincial governments and grant similar basic rights to the GB residents without any discrimination.
Chaired by Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Fida Muhammad Nashad, the session was attended by Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, Marvi Memon and members of the assembly and council.
He said under the order that had replaced GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009, all powers would rest with the GB Assembly and there would be no discrimination between the fundamental rights, enjoyed by the residents of other provinces and those of the GB.
The prime minister dismissed the opposition’s criticism and said there was no need of legislation for the step as it could be done through an order. However, the government could also get it passed through Parliament where it enjoyed the majority.
The prime minister hoped that if the sitting opposition comes into power in future, they would not be able to change even a single word of it as no one wanted to give up his powers.
He said the government had been working on the order for the last seven to eight months and it had been facing resistance from within its own ranks as some people never wanted to forego their powers.
The prime minister thanked Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Barjees Tahir who supported the government despite being opposed from his ministry.
He told the members that under the new order, all the subjects which had been devolved to provinces under 18th Constitutional Amendment would also stand devolved to GB. The Gilgit Baltistan Council would only deal with the federal subject, having just an advisory role, not executive or overriding one.
The prime minister said through such landmark amendments, the GB had been given even more powers than other provinces and questioned as why some people were opposing it.
Explaining further the new order, the prime minister said in future, GB Governor would be from within the territory and the judges and the chief justice of the high court would also be locals.
He said like other provinces, the provincial civil service structure would also be established for GB to employ the locals for public service. Moreover, the GB would also be given quota in Pakistan Civil Service.
He told the assembly that after now, the Chief Secretaries would be given all powers so that the people would not need to visit Islamabad for resolution of their issues. A single consolidated fund would be established and the BG would have the powers to spend it for development.
The prime minister said the GB was the foundation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and after its completion, it would be the most prosperous region in the country.
However, in order to capitalize the whole potential, the provincial government would have to play its role as now it enjoyed the power similar to other provincial governments.
The prime minister who earlier also launched work on three development schemes, two of those, he said were lingering on for last 10 years.
He reiterated that it was the distinction of the PML-N government to not only launch new development projects but also complete those left incomplete by the previous governments.
He recalled that Lowari Tunnel project was launched when he was 13, but it has been completed recently by Nawaz Sharif after 45 years.
Abbasi lauded government for implementing on the order that granting G-B right to its own civil service. “There was great opposition to the transference of authority, the biggest opposition lied within the government.”
The work on GB order has been ongoing since last seven to eight months, the premier remarked, adding that people in GB should be given basic rights as per the Constitution. “GB doesn’t even have the powers which other provinces do.”
Earlier, the premier inaugurated the building of Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly in Gilgit. The state of the art assembly building has been completed at a cost of 910 million rupees.

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