Friday, April 29, 2011

Gilgit Baltistan: Provincial like setup hinders socio-economic growth

While talking to the media on April 27, Chairperson of Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement, Engineer Manzoor Hussain Parwana, drew attention to the fact that Pakistan controlled Gilgit-Baltistan is moving towards financial bankruptcy and authorities lack funds to pay salaries to the employees of energy, water, sanitation, civil supply, road and buildings, education and health departments. He said that the situation contradicts Pakistan's claims regarding effectiveness of the empowerment and self-governance ordinance of 2009. It is true that the ordinance may have created few hundred positions and designations of cabinet members and high ranking Pakistani bureaucrats. But these bureaucrats have largely worked to safeguard interests of Islamabad rather than serve poverty-stricken natives.

Parwana said that the civilian developmental budget has been redirected to the office of Chief Minister to pay for allowances and protocol expenditures of the entourage of ministers. He quoted the auditor general of Gilgit-Baltistan, that if non-developmental expenditure is not reduced, then the entire province-like set up will cease to function in the next few months.

Parwana said that the governmental departments like Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD), which currently have no funds to undertake projects, are forced to falsely claim credit for the development projects initiated and completed by Aga Khan Developmental Network (AKDN). It is precisely because developmental budget of LG&RD is being spent on election rallies and buying loyalties of the politicians. He stressed that the government should stop relying on non-profit organizations to run the affairs of the region and fulfill their designated responsibilities. He lamented the fact that after completion of two years by the current regime, no annual development plan (ADP) has been presented, which hinders socio-economic growth. Today, targeted killings continue unabated and thousands of employees are protesting on the road demanding salaries, which shows that Pakistan has lost its writ in the region. A situation similar to Syria, Lybia and Yemen exists in Gilgit-Baltistan and international community needs to pay immediate attention.

In the context, thousands of affected people of Ataabad Lake disaster await funds for rehabilitation and compensation for the land and revenue losses. These people are victim of embezzlement, nepotism and in-efficiencies within government departments. He emphasized that eliminating Islamabad’s interference in Gilgit-Baltistan will help address these issues.

Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Gilgit Baltistan United ovement
Skardu : 28 April 2011