Demand for NA’s autonomy
20 April 2006
Islamabad: PML (N) Northern Areas has demanded autonomy for NAs in order to get out of the existing confused situation. Speaking at a press conference at the PML secretariat here on Thursday, the party NAs president Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman Khan regretted that the people of NAs had been kept deprived of fundamental, constitutional and political rights for the last about 60 years. Geographically and according to the UN resolutions, NAs form part of Kashmir. But these have neither been aligned with Kashmir nor have they been granted representation in Pakistan, he said. He also highlighted the importance of NAs saying that Gilgit-Baltistan had an area of about 28000 sq miles with great strategic significance. They border with China and Central Asian Republics and had precious water resources. He said that before the creation of Pakistan in 1947, NAs were part of Kashmir. When the Kashmir issue was taken to UN Security Council, it was decided that the resolutions of the world body would also be applied to NAs in the same way as they apply to Kashmir. Mr Hafeez said that India had integrated its part of Kashmir and had given all constitutional and political rights to its people. Unlike this, the position of NAs is totally confused, he regretted. He said that during their second government, Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian prime minister Vajpayee had been very close to resolving the Kashmir issue. But Gen Musharraf overthrew the elected government. To a question, he said that Nawaz Sharif had increased funds for Northern Areas. The Muslim conference leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum raised objections over it. Answering a question, he said the proposed United States of Kashmir would prove very dangerous for Pakistan. In response to another question, Mr Hafeez said the situation in NAs was becoming worse with each passing day. The government there was only a dummy one. The NAs legislative council was only nominal body. The ruling PML (Q) and its ally Patriots were in dispute over power-sharing. The NAs minister Faisal Saleh Hayat was creating problems instead of doing anything to resolve them. The Opposition, he said had no role. He demanded that the opposition benches be separated from the treasury benches and they be given right of tabling no- confidence in the assembly.