Gilgit-Baltistan empowered

AS process for merger of FATA with KP stood completed with Provincial Assembly adopting the landmark bill with overwhelming majority, the government also announced a comprehensive package of empowerment for people of Gilgit-Baltistan under GB Executive Order 2018. Unveiling the details during his address to joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly and GB Council, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said all subjects under the 18th Constitution Amendment have been transferred to the Gilgit-Baltistan Government.
The Order would surely take care of most of the grievances and demands of people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who have been demanding more powers and better representation. There were also demands to make the area fifth province of the country or status like Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Though the order is short of their demands but, as announced by the Prime Minister, GB will have all the powers that are currently available to other provinces without becoming formal part of Pakistan. GB Council will just have an advisory role and GB Assembly would exercise all powers. No one except the native of the region with local domicile can become Governor and judges of the higher judiciary. In this backdrop, the protest organised by the opposition parties and statement issued by PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto are nothing but politically motivated propaganda aimed at complicating things that are even in the best interest of the people. PPP remained in power for five years not only at the Centre but also in GB and the question arises as to why it could not do what it is now expecting PML (N) government to do. In fact, total merger of GB with Pakistan with representation in National Assembly and Senate or its declaration as a province of the country has implications for the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the future of which has to be determined in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. This is known to all and, therefore, there should be no protests or opposition to a move that is aimed at greater empowerment of people of GB and making them master of their own fate. The Prime Minister has also announced that the government was willing to incorporate more justified demands and there is always room for improvement. But the hue and cry by India over announcement of the GB package is clear testimony that the government has delegated substantial powers to people of GB.

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