Provincial status sought for Gilgit, Baltistan

30 April 2008
The Dawn

RAWALPINDI: The government should declare Gilgit-Baltistan the fifth province and announce holding of fresh and transparent elections for the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and the local bodies. Historically, geographically and politically, Gilgit-Baltistan deserves to be a province. The people of the region should have the right to send their representatives to the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan, of which they have been deprived for the last 60 years, said speakers at a seminar organised by the Balawaristan National Students Organisation here. Pakistan People’s Party leader Naheed Khan, nationalist leader Mirza Wajahat Hassan, secretary-general All Parties National Alliance Arif Shahid, Prof MARK Khaleeq, leader Balawaristan National Front Shujaat Ali Khan, Dr Sharif Astori, Amir Taimoor Aazam, Zafar Iqbal and student leader Zakir Hussain were among those who spoke on the occasion. They urged the government to provide the basic human and constitutional rights to the people of the region immediately. The 18,000 square-kilometer area, with a population of two million, could not be left out of the national mainstream any longer, because it was against the solidarity of the country, they said.