ISLAMABAD: Despite the protest of opposition parties and severe criticism in social media over the proposed Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment Order 2018, the centre is all set to approve it on Thursday. With the approval from the cabinet and a subsequent sign of president of Pakistan, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Order will replace the GB Self Governance Order 2009.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who reportedly signed the draft order on Tuesday, will visit Gilgit on May 27 to address a joint session of GB Legislative Assembly (GBLA) and GB Council. During his address, the PM will share detail about the reform order introduced by his government after deliberation for over two years.
According to insiders, a special meeting of the cabinet will be held in Islamabad on Thursday to approve the GB Order. The president of Pakistan will sign the order on Saturday making it law before the visit of the PM to Gilgit on Sunday.
As per a letter of GBLA secretariat sent to governor GB on Tuesday, Speaker GBLA has desired to summon the Joint Session of the GBLA and Gilgit-Baltistan Council on 27′ May 2018 at 10:00 hours at Assembly Hall Chinar Bagh Gilgit. The PM of Pakistan will address the Joint Session. It is, therefore, requested that approval for the summoning of the Joint Session GBLA and Gilgit-Baltistan Council under Article-40 of Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self Governance) Order 2009, and formal approval to prorogue the Joint Session on the same date may also be obtained from governor Gilgit-Baltistan.
It may recall here that the proposed GB order has drawn immense criticism on social media. It is regarded as eyewash which has deprived the people of GB of their basic constitutional and political rights. The proposed reform bill has drawn much ire and criticism of different stakeholders.
According to opposition parties in GB and legal experts, the order, if implemented in the current shape, would do away with the little autonomy that was granted by the 2009 ordinance.
The proposed reform ordinance gives overriding powers to the prime minister of Pakistan. It confers legislative, executive and judicial powers to the prime minister, whereas people of Gilgit-Baltistan don’t have any representation in Pakistan’s federal legislature, thus effectively deprived of any role in PM’s election.
Termed as ‘G-B Emperor Order’ on Social Media, the proposed order suggests that: “The prime minister shall have the powers to adopt an amendment in the existing laws or any new law in force subject to the legislative competence under sub-section 2,” As many as 50 subjects of legislation have been conferred to the prime minister. As per Article 41 of the proposed order, the legislative authority of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly in its own subjects is subservient to the prime minister.
Similarly, the articles, 60 (4), 60(6), (d) and 99 (2) also suggest that the Law passed by the prime minister will prevail in case a law on the same subject is passed by G-B Assembly. The proposed order also gives the right to levy taxes on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to the prime minister of Pakistan. The judicial powers have also been vested on the prime minister. The right to appoint judges to the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit-Baltistan and other sub-courts has been granted to the prime minister whereas the jurisdiction of G-B courts is effectively zero in mainland Pakistan. This would make the prime minister immune to any decision of G-B courts as no decree can be passed against him.