The cash-strapped Gilgit-Baltistan government spent approximately Rs20 million on arrangements for the prime minister’s visit to the region, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who laid the foundation stone for the country’s third-largest reservoir the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in Chilas on Tuesday, stayed in the area for an hour or two where he was accompanied by the Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister, governor and Pakistan Peoples Party workers and leaders from the region.
According to sources, before Gilani’s arrival in Chilas, two bullet-proof cars were flown to Gilgit via a C-130 aircraft and then transported to Chilas, about 124 kilometres from Gilgit.
“The cars were used to escort the prime minister from and to the helipad, for a distance of approximately one kilometre,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.
After the event, sources said, the cars were transported back to Gilgit by trucks and flown to Islamabad by a similar plane.
The prime minister’s entourage comprised Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah, Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Ahmed Khan, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Minister for Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, Minister for Water and Power Naveed Qamar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kauser and Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2011.