SKARDU: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Saturday that the federal government allocated a ‘record’ share in the next budget
(2021-22) for the development of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as Prime Minister Imran Khan desired its uplift on par with other parts of the country.
Addressing a news conference here at the Skardu Press Club, he said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), soon after coming into the power in the GB, announced a development package worth Rs 300 billion for the socio-economic development of the area.
The amount, which would be spent in the next five years, would bring significant improvement in the infrastructure of the GB and boost economic activities through tourism promotion, he added.
The minister regretted over dilapidated condition of the road infrastructure in the GB and lashed out at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for ‘doing nothing’ for its rehabilitation despite being in the power for a long period of time.
Fawad said he had been told by the political and civil administrations of the GB including the Chief Minister and Commissioners of various areas that the services of professional town planners were hired to formulate master plans of all the districts including Skardu, Shigar, Gilgit, and others.
He added that the situation in the GB would also look like Karachi in the next eight to ten years if the development work was carried out without proper planning.
The minister appreciated the GB’s Chief Minister for taking such a timely decision, adding it was crucial to the sustainable development of the area.
He said completion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would mark a new era of development and prosperity in the GB as it was situated at critical route of the multi-billion dollars project.
Fawad was of the view that Indians had a track record of hatching conspiracies against the area, adding it was the people of GB who always stood by Pakistan.
He said the whole nation and people of GB were unanimously condemning the illegal and unilateral actions of the Indian government in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). He also condemned such actions of Indian government against the IIOJK’s people.
The minister said Pakistan had ended trade relations with India to give a message to the people of Kashmir that the Pakistani nation was stood with them.
He said Pakistan had also ended the agreement with India to telecast Pakistan and England cricket matches series. However, he said, alternative arrangements would be made to telecast the cricket series.
He said the government of Pakistan had also decided to give interim province status to the GB as work on its legislation was being carried out at fast-track basis. “All the basic rights that have been demanded by the people of Gilgit Baltistan for a long time, will be given to them soon,” he added.
The minister also shed light on Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan’s peace process and said Pakistan had played a key role and tried its best so that the issues related to Afghanistan could be solved amicably.
“Pakistan had made tremendous efforts to end the war in Afghanistan; Pakistan had also engaged different leaderships of Afghanistan, and the US to move forward on the peace process, Pakistan will always try to bring peace in the Afghanistan,” he remarked.
The minister said that the business communities, farmers and people belonging to all walks of life had welcomed the federal budget announced by the government. “All the people including, business community farmers and salaried class had been taken care of while making the federal budget,” he added.
Fawad said that Pakistan International Airline (PIA) had been operating three flights to the GB in a day, adding it was an unprecedented move which would boost tourism activities in the area in coming days.
To a question he said, the courts had convicted Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz in two corruption cases while proceeding against Shahbaz case was in progress.
He said the government had demanded a day-to-day hearing in Shahbaz Sharif cases so as to take those cases to their conclusion.
He said the court had given the decision in Nawaz Sharif case, and he (Nawaz Sharif) fled aboard. “It was desire of the PTI government that the accountability process reaches to its conclusion,”he added.
The minister said the local government system was crucial to the development of all the areas.
To another query, he said the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were being developed in the country to ensure transparency and fast compilation of election results, adding the gadgets would also be used in elections of the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA), Press Clubs and the Bar associations.
He also offered EVM facility to Sakrdu press club for its elections.
He expressed his gratitude to the Skardu Press Club’s President, Secretary, and other office bearers for extending him invitation for the visit.
He vowed to upgrade the building of the press club and assured them of the early release of the grant.
Fawad said he would consult with the Gilgit Baltistan University to start tourism and environment-specific journalism training classes for budding journalists in the hall of Skardu press club, owing to the massive footfall of tourists to the area, as well as, presence of diverse flora and fauna there.
He said initiation of such training classes would eventually promote environment and wildlife journalism in the area, which was essential to attract local and foreign tourists.–APP