On his maiden official visit to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday announced setting up of swift courts in the territory to try the accused involved in heinous crimes.
“Criminals involved in kidnapping for ransom and sectarian killings will be tried in the swift court for speedy justice,” said PM Nawaz, underscoring the need for security in the region. A railway track connecting Pakistan with China is also expected to pass through the territory.
To ward off threats, he said a highly trained and fully equipped police unit would be raised to secure highways across G-B.
Talking about Pakistan-China economic corridor, PM said it would turn around the economy.
Loan for youths
The PM announced a scheme under which youth aged between 21 and 45 years would be provided loans up to 2 million for setting up businesses on easy terms.
“The loan will be for a period of seven years and all those youth wishing to avail it can do so,” Nawaz said. There will be seven per cent interest on the loan. The project has been started with Rs100 billion initially, he added.
The prime minister inaugurated the new terminal of Gilgit Airport, which is designed to handle more passengers. The project, completed at a cost of Rs148 million, offers basic amenities for tourists.
PM Nawaz talked about expanding Skardu and Gilgit’s airstrip, saying a proposal was under consideration to this effect.
The prime minister laid the foundation stone of a 14.5MW hydroelectric power project at Naltar Valley, costing nearly Rs4 billion. The project which has been financially supported by China, will be completed by 2016.
PM Nawaz said 14,000 to 15,000 megawatt power would be added in the national grid in the coming years as work was under way on dams including Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Dasu, Bunji. “There will hardly be an area in G-B without power after completion of these dams.”
The PM took strong exception to corrupt practices in G-B, saying his government wouldn’t allow it no matter where and who does it.
G-B Council budget approved
The annual budget of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council worth Rs826 million against a revenue target of Rs543 million was approved for the year 2013-14.
The approval was given by PM Nawaz while chairing the council’s session in Gilgit. Out of the total outlay, Rs325 million was allocated for development.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2013.