Reports that a constitutional package for Gilgit-Baltistan is being given final touches by a high-powered committee constituted by the Prime Minister these days in Islamabad are indeed very welcome.
The committee has been given deadline of finalizing recommendations before July 20 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to visit Gilgit-Baltistan and announce the constitutional package there. The committee while finalizing its recommendations is also keeping in view the reforms which the PPP government had introduced a provincial set up through the Gilgit-Baltistan Self-Governance Ordinance 2009 and try its best to improve on that.
No details about recommendations so being finalized are immediately available but it is reported that various departments and subjects of Gilgit-Balstistan Council will be devolved to the legislative assembly for more empowerment to the region.
Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan, Hafeezur Rehman had called on the PM few days back in Islamabad and reminded him about the constitutional reforms package which his party had promised before the last general election.
It is also good to note that during his upcoming visit to Gilgit-Baltistan, the prime minister besides announcing the constitutional reforms package will also inaugurate the long awaited Gilgit-Skardu Road project for which Frontier Works Organization has already been directed to make necessary arrangements. The project of widening of Skardu Road is estimated to cost Rs 33 billion which the federal government will bear.
These developments regarding constitutional reforms package, as per reports, are indeed very good. But while appreciating these efforts, it is submitted that all stakeholders should be taken in board before the reforms package is finalized and announced by the PM. It should also be ensured that the constitutional reforms package so announced is accordingly implemented in letter and spirit by all concerned and somehow not hampered in any manner like decades long awaited FATA Reforms merging Federally-Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwah (KP) among other measures for empowerment of the tribal people aiming at bringing them into the national mainstream .announced earlier this year.
AAMER A. NAJMEE
Published in Daily Times, July 3rd , 2017.