Lawmakers criticised the government for failing to maintain law and order in the violence-hit capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan. Chief Minister Mehdi Shah, however, expressed his resolve that the government’s writ would be established at all costs.
Responding to comments by Didar Ali, an independent member of the assembly from the Gilgit city, who criticised the government for mishandling the situation and arresting clerics that led to violent protests in Nomal valley, at the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative Assembly (GBLA) session on Monday, the CM asked the lawmaker to take up the issue with the Masjid Board and Parliamentary Committee.
He said that the clerics were arrested on the recommendations of the committees being represented by notables from both Shia and Sunni sects.
Leader of the opposition in the house Janbaz Khan of the PML-N said that a jirga in Diamer valley voluntarily handed over the accused in Kohistan bus carnage incident to police but regretted the people in Nomal held a police chief hostage instead of cooperating with the law enforcers in arresting the wanted men.
Speaker Wazir Baig said that the assembly had already passed a law against terrorism, adding that the legislators should condemn the acts of terrorism instead of criticising the government.
Sarwar Shah, a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) member asked the government to compensate all those injured or killed in acts of terrorism in the past on equal footing.
The regional police chief, who was negotiating with the protesters, got stranded in the valley for over 10 hours as the road from the valley to the city was blocked by the protesters demanding release of a cleric. The official was later flown to Gilgit via helicopter.
A Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid legislator, Mirza Hussain, said the federal government collected Rs150 billion from G-B on account of general sales tax every year. However, he lamented only a small portion is given to the region.
He urged the CM to be assertive in seeking more powers in respect of legislation on minerals, tourism and hydel power sectors.
CM Shah said that all the non-customs paid vehicles in G-B would be taxed and a committee should be formed to keep in contact with Central Board of Revenue in this regard. The issues of health, education, construction of roads were also discussed in the house.
Published in Express Tribune