Constitutional reform package for NAs in final stages
18 January 2007
The Daily Times
Islamabad: Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and the Northern Areas Maj (r) Tahir Iqbal said on Wednesday that a constitutional reform package for granting fundamental constitutional powers to Northern Area representatives was in its final stages of preparation and would soon be sent to the Federal Cabinet for approval. The reforms will be introduced as amendments in the Legal Framework Order (LFO) and 90 percent of them are expected to be approved, said Iqbal while chairing a cabinet meeting of the Northern Areas Legislative Council. The chief secretary with the secretaries and advisors of the Northern Areas (NAs) and secretary Kashmir Affairs and Northern Affairs (KANA) Division attended the meeting, which was held for a midterm review of the implementation of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) in the NAs and to check the performance of the various departments. Iqbal, who is also the chief executive of the NAs, said that the LFO had been drafted under his supervision after extensive discussions with all those concerned and had been validated by the Law and Justice Ministry and was now with the Finance Ministry for approval. He said that President Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have envisioned a bright future for the people of the NAs and extensive efforts were being made to ensure the realisation of their dream. After approval of the LFO, the NA representatives would be empowered to work for the betterment of their people and the area, he said, adding that projects under the ADP were being satisfactorily implemented as 69 percent of the funds had been utilised. The Minister said that the federal governments utmost priority was the provision of electricity to the entire area. He said that electricity had to be provided to smaller districts like Ganchi, Astore and Chilas on a priority basis to bring them at par with developed cities. He directed the advisor and power secretary to develop and implement projects in these areas on a priority basis and explore all available new technologies in this regard. He also said that the electricity requirements of Skardu and Gilgit would soon be met after completion of the Sad Para and Naltar Dams respectively. Advisors and Secretaries briefed the meeting of the performance of their respective departments. It was reported that out of the total approved ADP fund of Rs 4,025 million, 1,317.046 million had already been utilised, while 276 new schemes included in the ADP 2006-07 have been approved and work has already begun on 45 percent of them. PC-1 forms for the construction of a Hospital and a Cadet College in Chilas have also been approved.