GILGIT, Sept 29:
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced on Tuesday a socioeconomic package for Gilgit-Baltistan. The package includes a series of projects in education, health, agriculture and tourism.
Addressing a big public meeting at the Lalakjan Nishan-i-Haider stadium here, the prime minister said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would have their own governor, chief minister, an independent judiciary and all institutions which came under the new system.
He said the region had a huge potential in hydel-power and tourism which would be explored and harnessed properly to boost economy of the area. Hotel business would be given the status of industry, he added.
The prime minister said that Rs6.5 billion had been allocated for development of GilgitBaltistan and Rs5.5 billion for capacity building and announced that the region’s share in the PSDP would be increased.He said that 150,000 tons of wheat would be subsidised for the region and a research centre set up to study horticulture. He said that cold storage centres would be set up to preserve local produce, particularly some 55 unique varieties of cherries grown in the area.
He said the number of tractors under the Benazir scheme would be increased.
The prime minister said that Rs870 million had been allocated for the health sector in Gilgit-Baltistan and announced setting up of a medical college in the area. He said that 540 schools had been transferred to the National Education Foundation to improve their quality.
He asked NAVTEC to set up a bureau in Gilgit to impart skills to the youth. Mr Gilani said the number of buses under the Northern Areas Transport Corporation would be increased to facilitate commuters.
He said that quota would be reserved for local officers in foreign and national training programmes and announced fixing of basic salary at Rs6,000. He said that salary of policemen would also be raised and asked the administration to fill all vacant posts.
The prime minister asked Acting Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira to allocate land for a housing scheme for low income group where the government would build houses free of cost. He also announced a housing colony for journalists of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Completion of Diamer-Bhasha and Bunji dams and upgradation of Karakoram Highway would usher in a new era of prosperity and generate employment opportunities in the region. He said that people affected by the construction of Diamer-Bhasha would get justice and their rights would be protected.
The prime minister announced ‘Gilgit allowance’ for the people and an ambulance each for all district and tehsil hospitals. He ordered the appointment of commissioner of Hunza Nagar district within one week.
Other incentives announced by the prime minister are: upgradation of Skardu and Gilgit airport, improvement of Sost Dry Port to enhance trade links with China, reopening of regional offices of the Zarai Taraqqiati Bank, National Bank of Pakistan and House Building Foundation.
The prime minister assured locals that elections in GilgitBaltistan would be held under the supervision of judiciary and all political parties would be provided a levelplaying field.
Mr Gilani said the government had given rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and now it was their duty to ensure good governance in all institutions.
He urged the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to shun their differences and maintain harmony in their ranks. He said that some elements were trying to disturb peace in the area by fanning sectarianism.
The prime minister said Pakistan wanted friendly relations with neighbouring countries, including India, on an equal basis. He stressed the need for resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of its people.