Royalty From Basha-Diamer To Go To NAs
5 July 2006
The Daily Times
Gilgit: President Pervez Musharraf has said that he is a military man and cannot participate in politics, but the people should support the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) if they wish him to retain power. Addressing a public gathering at the Lalik Jan Stadium in Gilgit on Wednesday at the conclusion of a three-day tour to the region, Musharraf said that the demands of the Northern Areas' Legislative Council (NALC) would be met. However, he did not specify what the demands were. The president also said that the Northern Areas (NAs) will be paid the royalty from the Basha-Diamer Dam. Tight security arrangements were in place on the occasion, and thousands of people, including reporters, were turned back by the police. All roads leading to the stadium had been sealed. Musharraf said that the federal government had increased the annual budget for the Northern Areas from Rs 800 million to Rs 4 billion, and the government was committed to the development of the region. He said that the government was establishing a network of roads and railway links in the Northern Areas to connect the region with the rest of the country. He said that the Northern Areas would soon be connected through road and rail links to China and the Central Asian states to boost trade and tourism. He said that the Karakorum Highway was being upgraded, apart from the construction of the Skardu-Deosai, Shandur-Chitral and the Chilas-Babusar-Kaghan roads. He hoped that these measures would help reduce poverty in the region and open new avenues of development. He said that the region would get mobile phone facilities within a month or two, and one of the newly purchased all-weather planes of the Pakistan International Airlines would fly on the Gilgit-Islamabad route. Regarding the power shortage in the region, Musharraf said that work on the Bashu Hydel power project in Baltistan and the 83-megawatt Phander Hydel Power Project worth Rs 6 billion in Ghizer district would start soon. The president also announced the establishment of a 200-bed hospital in Gilgit. During his three-day visit to the Northern Areas, the president and the first lady accompanied by several federal ministers visited Skardu, Hunza, Bunji and Gilgit. Agencies add: Musharraf assured the gathering that those displaced by the construction of the Basha-Diamer Dam would be adequately compensated. The minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas said that the last five years had witnessed 'unprecedented development' in the Northern Areas and the financial allocation to the region had increased manifold.