PM restores parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms in GB

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has restored the federal parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms in Gilgit Baltistan, which was dissolved after the disqualification of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court in Panama case.

Talking to this scribe, Committee Chairman Sartaj Aziz, who is also the Planning Commission deputy chairman, said the prime minister has re-notified the committee for making it functional. He informed that the committee has already prepared its recommendations regarding constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan.

The recommendations will be presented to Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi by the committee next week, he said, adding the committee had completed its work on last July 29. However, the meeting was not held due to the dissolution of the cabinet and committee constituted by former prime minister followed by the Supreme Court’s historic judgment on July 28 in Panama Case.

Aziz said a meeting of the committee would be held next week during which it would present the recommendation to the PM. He said the PM would present the recommendations in Cabinet meeting for approval.

Responding to a question regarding consultations with Gilgit Baltistan’s regional stakeholders, Sartaj Aziz said the committee had consulted all the major stakeholders on recommendations. He; however, said the committee has not yet made the recommendations public.

Expressing views on this issue, analysts in Gilgit Baltistan opined that they didn’t see any progress on granting constitutional rights to Gilgit Baltistan, as the federal government was already stuck in an aggravating situation in the country.

They added that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was presently fighting a political war for its survival and it was hard for it to pay heed towards the issue. They added that the issue of the constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan was sensitive and it should be resolved at its earliest.

According to a report published in a national newspaper, Pakistan is mulling to elevate the constitutional status of northern Gilgit-Baltistan region in a bid to provide legal cover to the multi-billion-dollar Chinese investment plan, officials said on Thursday.

The move could signal a historic shift in the country’s position on the future of the wider Kashmir region, observers have said.

The proposal would see the mountainous region mentioned by name for the first time in the country’s Constitution, bringing it one step closer to being fully absorbed as an additional province.

Islamabad has historically insisted the parts of Kashmir it controls are semi-autonomous and has not formally integrated them into the country, in line with its position that a referendum should be carried out across the whole of the region.

In addition to being named in the Constitution, Gilgit-Baltistan would also send two lawmakers to sit in the federal parliament, though they would be given observer status only.

The writer is a PhD scholar at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore.



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