The disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gilani from the office of prime minister (PM) has raised questions about the fate of three advisers to PM in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
Earlier this year, Gilani appointed Maulana Attallah Shahab, Professor Muhammad Saleem and Wazir Ibadat as advisers to the PM. These advisers were members of the G-B Council, headed by the PM as its chairman under the G-B Empowerment and Self Governance order 2009.
However with the chairman gone, legal experts believe that the advisers too have seized to exist. “They are no longer advisers, they have become jobless,” said Ehsan Ali, a senior lawyer of G-B. He argued that with the disqualification of the PM, the post of G-B Council automatically fell vacant, and so did the posts of adviser.
However, a senior government official said that the PM secretariat has issued a notification, mentioning names of those affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. “The notification is silent about the advisers of G-B and Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. One of the advisers, Shahab, who is also a senior leader of JUI-F, told The Express Tribune that they have not been formally informed about their status. “No one has approached us directly so far,” he said, confirming that the notification did not mention anything about them. However, he maintained that the positions could continue as the G-B governor who is the vice chairman of the G-B Council was still intact. Experts are of the opinion that they could be re-notified once a new PM takes oath and assumes duties.
Lukewarm reactions & rallies
Meanwhile, although some Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) loyalists took out protest rallies in Gilgit and Skardu, the news did not so much as cause a stir in G-B at large. “I think the reason behind this indifference is the bad governance, corruption and mismanagement in the region,” said a resident of Gilgit. He opined that since Gilani was persistently defying the court decision, hence his conviction was inevitable sooner than later.
“It’s no surprise for us, the government has simply failed to deliver,” he added.
Even in other parts of the district, people remained indifferent to the decision, thus indicating approval to court verdict that also robbed Gilani of his membership in the National Assembly.
In Skardu, PPP workers held a massive protest demonstration over the removal of the former PM, terming the act “unconstitutional and a violation of rule of law”. Regional leaders including PPP Skardu President Yousaf Ali addressed the rally.
However, there were no reports of protests from elsewhere in Gilgit. The above four-year rule of Gilani saw more of political announcements than implementation in context of G-B development projects that have come to a standstill for lack of funds with the regional government.
According to PML-N regional leader, Haifzur Rehman, after the introduction of political setup under the Governance Order 2009, more than 80 per cent of the budget has been spent on non-development activities in G-B, including the protocol of chief minister, governor and his cabinet members.
He said that the joblessness, inflation, deteriorating law and order, and corruption in government departments are some of the reasons people withdrew their support. The lawyers in the region have already thrown their support behind the decision of the chief justice, vowing to make sacrifice for the supremacy of law.
Meanwhile, the G-B government has postponed budget meeting to be held on June 21. The meeting will now take place on June 25.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2012.
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