Poverty alleviation in N. Areas main focus
16 February 2007
Islamabad: Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Tahir Iqbal has said that the main focus of the government in the Northern Areas (N. As) is poverty alleviation by creating opportunities in the areas of agro-industry, eco- tourism and mineral development for which policies and five-year action plans have been finalised. Mr Iqbal was talking to a three-member delegation from the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Pakistan, which called on him here on Friday. The AKF team comprised of Al-Nasser Jamal, chief executive officer; John Tomaro, programme director and Dr Qayyum Noorani, programme manager health. The minister lauded AKF’s development work and said that the government would like to work on a joint agenda with the AKF for upgrading the living standards in Gilgit-Baltistan. He said the government had allocated Rs4.2 billion through Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the Northern Areas in the current financial year and the president and prime minister have committed that additional funds would be provided for launching consolidated projects in the health, education, hydel power and tourism sectors. Mr Iqbal said that about nine to ten hydel power projects including Henzel project are in the pipeline and it would be ensured that power equipments of the entire population are fulfilled by 2010. The minister said that health sector needs special attention for which the new medical units are being constructed but the main problem is being encountered due to shortage of staff. He said that training centres for nurses and paramedics would be established to address the problem while planning for establishing a medical college in Gilgit is also under way. Small scale cottage and livestock industries are being promoted in the N. As to enable people for earning income for sustaining their families and women are being specially encouraged to work in these fields, he added. He said that the development projects for the next year would be finalised in the month of April for ensuring that adequate funds could be arranged. AKF CEO Al-Nasser Jamal expressed his gratitude to the minister for his support and apprised him about the AKF projects.