PM constitutes another committee regarding GB constitutional package


PM to visit GB on July 20 for announcement of the package, inauguration of Rs 33 bn Skardu Road

ISLAMABAD: After receiving the recommendation of a committee headed by Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted another high-powered committee to finalise the proposals for constitutional reforms in Gilgit Baltistan within next 20 days.

A spokesperson to Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafeezur Rehman told Pakistan Today that the new committee was formed after a detailed meeting between the prime minister and the chief minister in Islamabad on Friday.

The new committee, of which notification has also been issued on Friday, includes Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Barjees Tahir, special adviser to PM, GB chief minister and secretaries.

The committee has been tasked to finalise the recommendation within next 20 days ahead of prime minister’s scheduled visit on July 20. The PM will announce constitutional reforms package for the region, which his party had promised before the elections.

According to the source, during the meeting, the prime minister informed the chief minister that recommendation of the previous committee, under Sartaj Aziz, were received and analysed by the PM secretariat. To move forward, another high-powered committee was formed to finalise the recommendations by July 20.  Prime Minister Nawaz also assured Hafeezur Rehman that all the promises made by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would be fulfilled.  PM Nawaz also assured his the GB chief minister that various departments and subjects of GB Council would be devolved to the legislative assembly for more empowerment of the region.

He also said that he would inaugurate the long waited Gilgit-Skardu Road project on July 20 for which Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has been asked to ensure all arrangements. The project of widening Skardu Road would cost Rs 33 billion. The prime minister will also be inaugurating Dasu Hydel Power project and Besham Tunnel on July 7.

It may recall here that a high-level reforms committee was constituted last year by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to introduce constitutional reforms. After a number of meetings held in Islamabad, the committee had reportedly proposed further empowerment of the semi-autonomous region.

The committee had reportedly proposed the central government to grant representation to Gilgit-Baltistan in the National Assembly and Senate.

The sources pointed out that the reforms committee did not suggest a complete provincial status for GB due to international obligations regarding the Kashmir issue, but it did propose to the government to give Gilgit-Baltistan its due share and representation in the next NFC Award to bring it on par with other provinces.

The previous committee had included prime minister’s aide Sartaj Aziz as its chairman, and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, the chief secretary, Kashmir Affairs secretary, PM’s special assistant on law and representatives from the military as its members.

The present government was trying to propose better reforms in GB as compared to Pakistan People’s Party-led government which had introduced a provincial set-up through the Gilgit-Baltistan Self-Governance Ordinance, 2009.