The Senate body on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgat-Baltistan has proposed massive reforms pertaining to development portfolios, education and tourism to change the standard of living of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan’s (GB) dwellers. The body, met here at Parliament House, passionately called for bringing some constitutional amendments to give the Baltistan and Kashmir’s citizens equal rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan for its citizens.
Member of the committee Senator Rehman Malik asked the Secretary of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Division Tariq Mahmood Pasha to devise a fiscal policy to bring significant changes relating to development portfolios in GB and AJK by consulting the federal government. The AJK and GB had a great agricultural and tourism potential that could not be explored due to less financial and technical resources there, Malik regretted while terming it a in discriminatory approach of the authorities concerned.
Rehman claimed that the AJK neither has an air ambulance nor an emergency helicopter, besides its police force’ transport infrastructure requires a massive improvement. The secretary responded that the Rules of Business formulated for AJK and GB’s administrative control were aimed at easing the lives of their residents by doing the development work in those areas. Currently, they were collecting the revenue from their territories through their own revenue system, he added.
Expressing the resolve for revamping their revenue system, on the behalf of its Ministry, Pasha said they were eager to provide any help sought on this count. The budget was being allocated to all provinces through National Finance Commission (NFC) award while the funds had been given to AJK and GB from the share of the Federal Government as per the Constitution.
Rehman Malik suggested that if the Constitution did not allow to allocate the fund to AJK and GB through NFC award then all the provinces should share their at least two per cent of budget to enhance its budget. “Let’s have some constitutional changes and enhance the AJK and GB’s budget volume to make these parts of the state prosperous and developed,” he resolved.
Highlighting the achievements of the Ministry in last couple of years, the Secretary apprised the committee that it had increased the AJK’s budget from Rs 12 billion to Rs 25 billion and the GB’s from Rs 9 billion to Rs 17 billion. Besides, it had been implementing GB Order, 2018 in true letter and spirit with the help of Gilgit-Baltistan’s government. Senator Lt Gen. (Retd) Abdul Qayyum stressed for promoting the tourism culture in the AJK and GB by improving their roads infrastructure that would increase their revenues as well. The Chairman of the Committee endorsing the view point of the Senator Qayyum directed the Ministry to arrange a separate meeting for the promotion of tourism.—APP