The Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Thursday urged the federal government to provide Gilgit Baltistan (GB) with the annual budget at par with other provinces. The committee which met here under the chair of Chairman Senator Sajid Mir also recommended the federal government that the funds package for GB should be given in forms of the budget, not grant in accordance with the needs of the area. The body also called for filling the vacant posts in the government organizations of GB and asked the Ministry of Finance to approve the appointment on the vacant posts suggested by the GB authorities.
The GB authorities told the committee that the federal government had also slashed the number of posts besides abolishing 191 seats. Mentioning the shortage of workforce in water and power sector, the authorities concerned apprised the committee that the finance ministry had approved only 1560 posts against 3,000 proposed by the GB government. Secretary Ministry of Kashmir Affairs said that a grant formula in form of a package was being finalized for GB. The decision to this effect would be taken soon as it required a constitutional amendment and a presidential order, he added. Senator Rehman Malik said that Gilgit-Baltistan should be given budget equal to other provinces besides suggesting special budget for China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects. He also called for including Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and FATA in the NFC Award.
The committee was informed that the budget for Azad Kashmir’s annual development projects had been doubled from Rs 12 billion to Rs 22 billion. Currently, two power projects in AJK were generating 1150 MW of electricity. Neelum Jhelum project would add another 969 MW of electricity in next two months. The officials said that GB had the potential of generating 50,000 MW from hydel resources. The meeting was attended by Senators Rehman Malik, Ahmad Hassan, Momin Afridi, Najma Hamid, besides senior officials of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf Thursday informed the Senate that his ministry celebrated religious festival of Kalash community on August 19, 2017 like other minorities communities. Responding to a Calling Attention Notice raised by Karim Ahmed Khawaja and Mukhtar Ahmed Dhamrah about difficulties being faced by the Kalash Community, the minister said an amount of Rs 136,000 was also provided to poor member of the community on their demand. He said some small development schemes worth Rs1.5 million were also included on the demand of the community. He said the ministry had also written a letter to the Director General Immigration and Passport to write Kalash in column of religion for the people of community on their demand.
Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications Anusha Rehman Thursday said that ministry had launched the projects of Rs 20 billion for providing broadband services in Balochistan. Speaking in the National Assembly during question hour session, the minister said that through these projects, a massive broadband coverage was being given to different areas of the province. said that many of these projects were near completion adding, the broadband services was a gift for the people of Balochistan.—APP