On his maiden official visit to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Friday, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced a development package worth Rs2 billion for the region.
“I want to assure you that the federal government will extend its support to make the system a success,” the premier said in his address to a joint session of the G-B Assembly and G-B Council on Friday. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Kashmir Affairs Minister Mian Manzoor Watto accompanied the premier on the trip.
Earlier in the day, the premier was also briefed on development projects, the law and order situation and the financial crunch faced by the G-B government.
Premier Ashraf then flew to Hunza to inaugurate the new 25-kilometre road linking Gojal Valley with the rest of the country. He also inaugurated the Khunjerab to Raikote portion of the Karakoram Highway, which was expanded and upgraded by China.
The premier also had an aerial tour of the 23-kilometre-long Attabad Lake formed in 2010 after a massive landslide blocked the Hunza River, submerging at least three villages upstream and large swathes of land.
In his address to the joint session, Ashraf announced an increase in the number of PIA flights between G-B and Islamabad and said that measures would be taken to provide security to people travelling on the Karakoram Highway.
“We have taken appropriate measures to ensure safe travel on the Karakoram Highway,” he said, adding that militants were trying to disrupt peace in the region.
He urged the regional government to formulate policies to promote tourism and exploit the immense natural resources present in the region.
The G-B Assembly’s only nationalist opposition member Nawaz Khan Naji boycotted the premier’s address to the joint session. The opposition leader was also unimpressed with the Rs2 billion package announced by the premier.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2012.