Better package for Northern Areas sought
26 October 2007
Gilgit: The umbrella group of various political parties of the Northern Areas, called the Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance (GBNA), has demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan be accorded a constitutional status on the pattern of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The GBNA secretary and member of the Northern Areas Legislative Council, Dr Muzaffar Raley, told reporters on Friday that the alliance had demanded assurances over Gilgit-Baltistanís representation at national and international conferences held in connection with the Kashmir issue. He said the new package for the region was the result of their continued struggle but added that the GBNA supreme council had reservations about it. He wondered how the existing legal framework order for the NAs could function independently without a constitutional shield. He said that the addition of the no-confidence clause in the legal framework order made it an unconstitutional and undemocratic package. He said the powers of the Northern Areasí chief executive were still undefined. Thrusting of the post of the chairman over the proposed legislative assembly had also given rise to many doubts regarding the package as it had limited benefits for the public, much like the previous packages designed for the region. He said there was no mention of an independent judiciary in the new package, which he characterised as a weakness. However, Dr Relay appreciated an enhanced budget, remission of small loans, new power projects and jobs for the region. He said the GBNA supreme council had demanded the abolishment of all sorts of taxes in the region, measures to curb inflation, a transparent transfer and recruitment policy and cut in the power tariff.