GILGIT: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday announced a development package for Gilgit Baltistan aimed at the socio-economic uplift of the area people.
Addressing a huge public gathering at Shaheed Lalac Jan stadium here, the Prime Minister unveiled a series of development projects in the areas of education, health, agriculture, tourism and basic needs of life.
This was Gilani’’s first visit to the picturesque Gilgit Baltistan, who got a rousing welcome by the enthusiast crowd that continued to cheer slogans in the arena decorated with the tri-coloured party flags.
To the gathering, the Prime Minister said, “You are getting your identity today. It is your right and has been your demand, and today we are fulfilling it.”
Prime Minister Gilani said Rs 870 million had been allocated for health sector of Gilgit Baltistan and announced setting up a medical college in the area. He announced for the provision of an ambulance each for all district and tehsil hospitals.
On agriculture, he said 150,000 metric ton wheat would be subsidized for Gilgit Baltistan while a research centre would be setup to study horticulture. He said cold storage centres would be established to preserve the local produce particularly some 55 unique varieties of cherries grown in the area.
Gilani directed for the appointment of District Commissioner of Hunza Nagar within one week. He said Rs 6.5 billion had already been allocated for the development of Gilgit Baltistan and Rs 5.5 billion for capacity building.
“In the budget, we will immensely increase the Public Sector Development Program for Gilgit Baltistan,” he said. On education sector, he said 540 schools had been transferred to National Education Foundation to improve their quality.
He directed for the establishment of a bureau of NAVTEC in Gilgit to teach skilled education to the youth. Gilani said the government would strengthen the tourism sector in Gilgit Baltistan and announced to give it the status of industry.
He announced for increase in number of Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO) buses to facilitate the commuters. Gilani said quota would be reserved for the locals officers in foreign and national training programs, and announced fixation of basic salary at Rs 6,000.
He said the salaries of police officials would also be increased and directed to fill all the vacant posts in the area. Gilani directed the Acting Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira to allocate land for the Housing scheme for low income group, where the government would construct houses free of cost.
He also announced setting up a housing colony for the journalists of Gilgit Baltistan. The Prime Minister announced upgradation of Skardu and Gilgit airport, adding that Sost Dry Port would also be improved so as to enhance trade links with China.
He asked the Finance Ministry to consider the re-opening of regional offices of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited’’s, National Bank of Pakistan and House Building Foundation. The Prime Minister also announced ”Gilgit allowance” for thearea people.
Prime Minister Gilani said election in Gilgit Baltistan would be held under judiciary’’s supervision in a free and fair manner, besides ensuring a level playing field for all political parties.
He said the government had given rights to the people of Gilgit Baltistan and now it was their duty to ensure good governance in all sectors.
He said Pakistan wanted to maintain friendly ties with all neighbours including India, on equal basis. He stressed the need to resolve the core issue of Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiri people.
Gilani said he visited Gilgit Baltistan despite security concerns as he had strong faith in the people of area who stood by him.
He called for shunning the sectarian differences and observing harmony in their ranks, besides mentioning that a few elements were trying to disturb peace in the area by fanning sectarianism.
Gilani also directed the security staff to remove the bullet-proof glass of the dais, saying that he had complete faith in the area people whom he considered his brothers and sisters. He said the decision of Gilgit Baltistan’’s internal autonomy was taken to mitigate the sufferings of the past, and to bring progress and prosperity to the underdeveloped areas.
He said the government was planning to effectively utilize the hydal potential of the area by establishing a regional grid. He said Diamer-Bhasha dam, Bunji dam and upgradation of Korakorum Highway will usher in a new era of prosperity and generation of employment activities.
He assured that the Diamer Bhasha dam affectees would get justice and their rights would be protected.
“You will witness a well-established effective communication network, attractions for tourists, massive tree plantation and an efficient and modern police force in the area,” he said.
He asked the Chief Secretary to apprise him on development plans for Gilgit Baltistan which would be implemented accordingly. He said Pakistan Peoples Party had laid numerous sacrifices for the country, adding that the government believed in the empowerment of masses.
He mentioned that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had abolished the feudal system and implemented the judiciary system which had given a fresh lease of life to Gilgit. He said the parliament has a consensus view on all issues of national importance, adding that all political parties of the countries also enjoyed complete harmony.
“Today, the parliament, judiciary, media, government, civil society and democratic institutions and political parties are working in close coordination,” he said.
Gilani said at present there was no political prisoner in the country neither the government had put any curb on media. He termed it a proof of good governance which had improved the image of country in the comity of nation.
He said, “We do not claim that we have brought a revolution inthe lives of people in just one and a half year. But we can say, with Allah’’s blessing, we have spent every moment for the welfare of masses.”
Qamar Zaman Kaira, Acting Governor Gilgit Baltistan said the government had taken effective steps for the uplift of the locals. He demanded the Prime Minister for a financial package for the employment opportunities of the youth of Gilgit Baltistan. He also urged for a ”winter allowance” and provision of ambulances to cater to the health needs of the people.
He said the government would remove the disparity between Gilgit Baltistan and other developed parts of the country.
Earlier, the Prime Minister was presented Gilgit’’s traditional cloak and feather cap. President PPP Mehdi Shah and General Secretary Gilgit Baltistan Ghulam Muhammad also spoke on the occasion. Najmuddin Khan, Federal Minister for SAFRON was also present.