July 2003 News

Presence Of Army Team In N. Areas Defended

3 July 2003
The Dawn

Gilgit: Northern Areas Deputy Chief Executive Fida Mohammad Nashad on Wednesday defended the existence of the army monitoring team (AMT) in the region and said the Northern Areas were not a constitutional part of Pakistan. He told newsmen on the second day of the 18th session of the Northern Areas Legislative Council that though the teams were abolished all over the country two years back, it continued to work in the Northern Areas. He said the monitoring team's existence was imperative for maintenance of checks and balances in running the government affairs in the region. Mr Nashad said the issue of syllabus was going to be resolved shortly as a meeting of Ulema from all schools of thought was under way for framing a non-controversial syllabus for all school textbooks. He said that the council was unable to legislate as their was no law department to prepare the drafts. During the session, Speaker Haji Sahib Khan directed the deputy chief executive to table a resolution regarding the extension of gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to the Northern Areas with recommendations in the next session. NALC member Ghulam Ali Haidari, speaking on a point of order, demanded immediate holding of the election for the vacant seat of the council's deputy speaker. Members form the National Awami Party Pakistan, Wazir Beg and Qurban Ali, demanded tabling of the proposed interim constitution act for the Northern Areas. Farida Batool demanded gender equality in the Northern Areas cabinet. She pointed out that there were five women in the council but only one had been appointed an advisor which was unjust with respect to their share in the population. The council adopted a resolution appreciating the services rendered by the late adviser Saifur Rehman Khan for maintaining sectarian harmony in the region. It demanded expedition of the trial of the murder case. On Thursday, members of the Northern Areas Legislative Council on Thursday complained about the absence of a monitoring mechanism to ensure timely completion of development projects. Discussing the annual development programme NALC members, including Haji Amir Jan, Qari Hafizur Rahman, Mehboob Ali Khan, Pir Karam Ali Shah, Mohammad Jafar and Wazir Beg, said that the absence of such a monitoring system could hinder projects once the funds were released. Qari Hafizur Rehman said that the Northern Areas Public Works Department had so far spent over Rs2 billion in the power sector but majority of the power projects had failed to yield the required power generation capacity. Stressing the need for restructuring NAPWD, he said that of the development budget that had been put at the disposal of the NAPWD in 2002-03, Rs200 million had lapsed, which showed the department's inefficiency. Criticizing the department, he said that the four-megawatt Guru power project failed to produce two megawatts of power even though over Rs320 million had been spent on the project. The council also formed a committee, comprising Qurban Ali, Ghulam Ali Haidri, Ghulam Mohammad, Hafizur Rahman, Haji Amir Jan, to submit recommendations for extension of district government system to the Northern Areas. During the debate on the budget, members also called for the budget's presentation in the council. Wazir Beg criticized insufficient budget allocation for the Northern Areas, saying the area's economy had suffered a lot after the 9-11 incident. He urged the government to allocate adequate funds after receiving the $3 billion grant sanctioned by the United States for Pakistan.


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