Controversial move: Federal minister to also serve as Gilgit-Baltistan governor
GILGIT: An amendment has been made to the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Empowerment and Self-governance Order 2009, allowing federal minister for G-B and Kashmir affairs to handle the additional responsibility of G-B governor.
“The amendment was made by the Ministry of G-B and Kashmir Affairs on the advice of the prime minister and endorsed by the President of Pakistan,” an insider privy to the development told The Express Tribune on Thursday. “The amendment has been inserted in Article 20 of the Governance Order 2009.”
Sources said after the amendment, Federal Minister for G-B and Kashmir Affairs Birjis Tahir will become the G-B governor through a notification, replacing Pir Karam Ali Shah, who was appointed to the post during Pakistan Peoples Party’s tenure.
The move has triggered a sharp reaction in the region, with the main opposition party terming it a ploy to influence elections which are likely to be held in May. “This is meant to hijack elections in the region,” former G-B chief minister Mehdi Shah told The Express Tribune. “But we will resist this with full force,” vowed Shah, who is also PPP’s president for G-B and served as the chief minister from 2009 to 2014.
Shah said his party would call for an all-parties conference in the region against the decision, claiming Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was working against the interests of the region. He said making Birjis Tahir the governor would mean withdrawing the powers delegated to G-B under the governance order by his party. “We helped the region get its rights, but PML-N is withdrawing them.”
In 2009, PPP had assigned Qamar Zaman Kaira the dual role of governor and federal minister for G-B and Kashmir affairs. However, that had happened before the introduction of the governance order.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2015.