ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur says the government is committed to raising the Kashmir issue at multiple fora, and it will hand over the chair of the parliamentary committee of Kashmir to an influential name in political and foreign affairs, unlike Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was appointed for political reasons.
In an exclusive conversation with daily Express, Gandapur said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government is taking strong and effective measures to resolve the Kashmir issue, instead of paying lip-service as was done by the previous government.
The federal minister said that the government’s preparation for Kashmir Solidarity Day, observed on February 5, illustrated the importance the government attached to the issue. He added that preparations were going hand-in-hand for observing the day in world capitals to show solidarity with the Kashmiris’ just cause.
According to Gandapur, the day will give a firm message to Kashmiris and people around the world that the government has moved on from messages and speeches, and now it will adopt practical measures for the resolution of this issue.
He added that violence by Indian government in the occupied Kashmir will be exposed on all international forums, in line with the revelations of the UN Human Rights Commission report, as the occupied valley experienced its deadliest year in a decade. According to a local monitor, 586 lost their lives in 2018 – majority of them civilians, including toddlers and schoolchildren – due to the actions of the Indian occupation forces in the disputed valley.
The federal minister also assured of ending the deprivation of the people of the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), as the PTI-led government is drafting reforms for provision of authority and rights to the region.
He added that the draft will soon be presented in the cabinet for approval, after which it will be presented in parliament to ensure that the rights of G-B citizens can be safeguarded through Parliament.
“Discussion on a few points of the reforms agenda is currently underway. Our government will give G-B all the rights and authority to Gilgit-Baltistan that lie with other provinces,” he said.
He criticised the previous government for failing to take up the issue in parliament, instead opting for the region’s administration through presidential orders, referring to the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 and Gilgit-Baltistan Self Governance Order 2009, instead of through elected representatives.
Gandapur also lashed out at the G-B government over its criticism of the Supreme Court verdict earlier this month approval to a freshly proposed presidential order enshrining framework for governance of Gilgit-Baltistan, directing immediate promulgation of the order.
He argued the current provincial government was frightened that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will get their actual rights, and that is why it wants to file review appeal in Supreme Court.
He said that the previous government fooled the people of the region in the name of provision of rights. “How can an order unapproved by cabinet and parliament be imposed on the G-B population? This is mere foolery,” he remarked.
“If the former government in actual wanted to dispense rights and authority to G-B population, why did they not do that for five-years” argued Gandapur. “Why was this order not approved from cabinet and parliament, compellingly an order which did not have any legal or constitutional importance was imposed days before the end of government tenure. This was wrong,” he remarked.
The federal minister added that the PTI-led government is committed to overall growth and development in the region, and it is taking practical steps for the encouragement of tourism. He added that the region will be provided more developmental funds in next year’s budget while the subsidy on grain will remain intact.