Senate adopts resolution to empower GB

* PPP senator says it is wrong to say they cannot do anything until permanent settlement is reached on GB status

ISLAMABAD: The Senate today unanimously adopted a resolution moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar calling upon the government to amend the Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order 2009 to empower the people of the area.
Speaking on the resolution, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the people of Gilgit Baltistan had voluntarily joined Pakistan and the area has critical geo-strategic importance as the route of Pakistan’s security, foreign policy and economy passes through it.
He said that the 12-member GB Council, led by the prime minister, governed the people of GB. This supreme body for ruling GB is manned by the bureaucracy of the federal government.
Talking to reporters, he said that it was a colonial mindset that seeks to control GB through executive order from Islamabad and refuses to empower the GB Assembly to control their own affairs. Under the Rules of Business, the powers of the GB Council are exercised in its name by the Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ministry, which regulates and controls the administration of GB directly, he said.
He said, “It is wrong to say that we cannot do anything for them until a permanent settlement on the status of GB is arrived. This is a ploy of the bureaucracy in Islamabad.”
Empowerment orders in 1994 and 2009 were issued from Islamabad. The Islamabad-based GB Council has the powers to extend any Pakistani law to GB. Several laws, including those against terrorism, have been extended to GB, he said and debunked the argument that Pakistani laws could be extended so why more autonomy be devolved to GB.
Babar said the Empowerment Order 2009 was issued before the 18th Amendment. The 18th Amendment has set new standards for local autonomy and parliamentary control over the government, which must also be applied to GB.
This calls for revisiting the Empowerment Order 2009 with a view to granting more autonomy and to protect the fundamental rights of the people of GB, he said. 
The Senate chairman put the resolution to vote, which was adopted by the Senate.

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