'N. Areas being deweaponized'
28 February 2005
Islamabad: Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat has said that a number of steps are being taken for peace and harmony in Northern Areas. 'Steps are also underway to de weaponize the area and settle the curriculum issue permanently,' he said while addressing a press conference after chairing a meeting of members of Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) here on Monday. Deputy Chief Executive of Northern Areas Mir Ghaznfar Ali, Speaker Haji Maskeen and Secretary Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Rasool Bakhsh Baloch were also present. The minister said he had consulted members of the NALC who had given a number of useful and practicable proposals for settling these issues and for development of the area. He said he had accepted the proposals which would be implemented soon. Referring to the Rs500-million package announced by President Pervez Musharraf, he said it would bring prosperity and help reduce poverty in the area. 'It would also help raise quality of life of common people,' he added. About recent rains and snowfall, Faisal said estimate of losses was being worked out and the affected people would be given maximum help. He lauded the role of NALC members in restoration of normalcy after January-8 terrorist act in Gilgit. The minister said steps were being taken to transfer powers to lower level with a view to reducing hardships of the people of Northern Areas. To a question, the minister said that Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service would lead to resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He said that people of the sub-continent had right to live peacefully instead of being involved in wars and Pakistan government was seriously trying to resolve Kashmir issue with India.