Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali has revoked the parliamentary status of lawmakers of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir, depriving them of the perks enjoyed by their counterparts in the rest of the country.
The decision was conveyed to the G-B government and lawmakers of the G-B Legislative Assembly and the G-B Council through a letter issued from the interior ministry earlier this month. The letter cites constitutional issues surrounding both the regions of AJK and G-B.
The move has cast doubts on the G-B Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 which claimed G-B had been brought at par with other provinces with its own chief minister and governor running its affairs.
Amjad Hussain, a member of the G-B Council, a forum which functions under the chair of the prime minister, said, “After this letter, I am not entitled to an official passport meant for Pakistani parliamentarians. My official passport stands canlled.
“This step has reinforced the perception in G-B that we are not equal citizens of this country,” Hussain said while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday.
Hussain, a leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, explained that lawmakers received the letter from the interior ministry earlier this month and subsequently tried to persuade the authorities to take back the decision, however, they remained unsuccessful.
“I am shocked. I don’t know what prompted Chaudhry Nisar to take this decision which is bound to spread a feeling of alienation in the people of G-B. If we are not being given a diplomatic passport by Pakistan, which country should we go to for it,” questioned Hussain.
In an assembly generally believed to lack administrative powers, perks and privileges are the only attraction for the elected representatives to contest elections and remain with the national parties. However, the interior ministry’s decision is likely to fuel distrust among the locals.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.
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