Draft Interim Constitution For N. Areas Presented
8 July 2003
Gilgit: The draft of the Interim Constitution Act was presented in the Northern Areas Legislative Council here on Monday. Leader of the opposition Syed Jaffar Shah, while presenting the Interim Constitution Act as a private bill, stressed the need for such a document, saying that the Northern Areas were not covered in the Article 1 of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan while these areas were also not included in the 1974 Interim Constitution Act for Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Shah, the author of the bill, said that the document fulfilled the needs stated in the 1999 verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Presently, the Northern Areas are being governed through Legal Framework Order, 1994, and chief executive of the Area is Federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas affairs. The proposed constitutional document called for a parliamentary form of government for the Northern Areas with elected president, prime minister, ministers, legislative assembly and the Northern Areas Council on the pattern of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The document suggested setting up of a separate supreme court, high court, public service commission and election commission for the area. The proposed Interim Constitution Act, 2003, for Northern Areas, comprises 85 articles and 5 schedules. Mr Shah said that the interim set up would not harm the Kashmir issue and the system would be continued till the settlement of the issue. Majority of the legislators supported the act and called for its immediate enforcement. Acting Speaker Qurban Ali referred the bill to the house select committee, directing it to submit its recommendations as soon as possible. Two other bills regarding the allotment of government land in Northern Areas and enforcement of rent control laws were also presented in the council. The council's session was later adjourned till Tuesday.