GILGIT: The ruling Pakistan People Party (PPP) faced an embarrassing situation in the legislative assembly on Thursday after a couple of its own members, instead of defending the party’s stance, sided with opposition members, calling for handing over the Governor’s House, currently being used as the Chief Secretary House, to Governor Gilgit Baltistan Dr Shama Khalid.
Members of the Legilslative Assembly (MLAs) reminded that the last the building was used as a proper Governor’s House was back in 1947 by Gandhara Singh, the last Sikh governor of Gilgit. After his fall, it was being used by chief secretaries or commissioners. “This is the first time that the region is being run by a local chief minister and an indigenous governor after more than 62 years because the region has been out of the national mainstream political process,” they said.
However, the governor house remains the residence of the chief secretary. “This is a matter of great embarrassment for us to see our governor residing in a hotel,” said Mr Naseer, a PPP MLA in the assembly. Supporting PML-Q MLA Mirza Hussain, whose assertion sparked a debate, Mr Naseer said the government should have allocated the building to the governor. Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed, tried to defend the government, saying that members should find ways to improve the Self-Governance Order of 2009, instead of “raising an irrelevant issue”.
“How are we going to get our rights if we can’t even get the Governor’s House vacated,” Mr Naseer countered. Abdul Hameed, another PPP MLA, followed suit by saying that the governor should be provided accommodation in accordance with her stature. Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said that a new Governor’s House was being built and it would be ready soon. He said the MLA should “focus on their work instead of looking for perks and privileges”.
Bashir Ahmed, another PML-Q MLA, rejected the chief minister’s assertions, saying that the governor was currently residing in a ‘cage’, which was an insult to her stature. The chief minister, unable to resist the incessant onslaught, left the house, while the rest of the PPP members looked on without saying a word, letting the opposition press hard on the issue. Raziuddin, an independent MLA, drew Speaker Wazir Beg’s attention towards the issue of a firing incident on the office of a PPP member and called for taking strict action. “I call for including Amjad Hussain, the member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council, in the investigation.” Speakers also called for constituting a five-member committee to probe various scandals of misappropriation of funds during the past government.