ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday approved the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Reforms Order 2018, replacing the old GB Self Governance Order 2009, notwithstanding widespread opposition to the reforms package introduced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
Sources said that the GB Council received the notification regarding the new GB Order from President House early on Friday. The order is to be effective from June 1, 2018.
As per the new order, the prime minister of Pakistan has been given the authority of legislation over 68 subjects. Besides that, he, as the chief executive of the region, enjoys the power to overrule any law passed by GB Assembly.
In the final order, contrary to the draft earlier being circulated in media, various amendments have also been made. As per the new order, the entire subject of judicial reforms in the area has been deleted keeping the judicial chapter of order 2009 intact in the new one. Earlier, through the proposed judicial reforms, judges of superior courts including Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court and Gb Chief Court were to be appointed from the region through a proposed committee.
However with the removal of the proposed clauses, now the top judges of the appellate court will be appointed from the centre by the prime minister.
Also, the final authority to amend the order lies with the president instead of the regional assembly. Interestingly, the legislative list of GB Assembly does not include the subjects of tourism, forests and minerals – the devolved subjects of GB Council.
Earlier, the new order was reportedly approved by the federal cabinet and after endorsement by the National Security Council, the legislation was also approved by the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA).
The government officials claimed that as compared to 2009 empowerment act, the new order is considered as more comprehensive, wide-ranging and all-inclusive as the powers vested in the GB council, including passing legislation regarding mineral, hydropower and tourism sectors, have now been shifted to the GB Assembly.
It is pertinent to mention here that a complete shutter down strike was observed across GB against the new order when former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Gilgit on May 27. Protest rallies were also carried out in 10 districts of the region rejecting the order as it is against the aspirations of the people.