The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Assembly proceedings on Wednesday were dominated by a debate on whether the residents of G-B were Pakistani citizens or not.
The discussion started after Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) legislator Mirza Hussain spoke about the amnesty scheme offered by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for registering non custom paid (NCP) vehicles. Hussain said residents of G-B must not be forced to have their NCP vehicles registered.
“We are de facto Pakistani, this is something mentioned in the Governance Order 2009. Therefore we shouldn’t be forced to pay duty to get our cars registered. We aren’t as such a constitutional province of Pakistan,” claimed Hussain.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker Raziuddin Rizvi objected to Hussain’s comments, saying residents of G-B were as much Pakistanis as anyone else and should avail the amnesty scheme. He asked Hussain to refrain from making such statements as they could have serious implications for the region in the long run.
Sadia Danish, advisor on forests and wildlife, also questioned Hussain how he took the oath to became a lawmaker if he wasn’t Pakistani.
Information and education minister Ali Madad Sher said FBR had launched the registration drive of NCP vehicles upon the request of the G-B government. His statement, however, was rejected by the deputy speaker, who maintained the amnesty scheme wasn’t meant for G-B alone, but for the whole country.
On a point of order, Raziuddin raised the issue of land grabbing and asked the government to take serious action against land mafia.
Wazir Muzaffar, another lawmaker, tabled a resolution in the house for regularising the services of population welfare department officials. The resolution was handed over to a committee for review.
The FBR has tasked customs houses in the country with legalising all NCP vehicles upon payment of a certain duty by March 31.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2013.
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