Friday, January 22, 2010

Autonomous status and present-day Gilgit-Baltistan

On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the President Asif Ali Zardari. It granted self-rule to the people of the former Northern Areas, now renamed "Gilgit-Baltistan," by creating, among other things, an elected legislative assembly.[7] This package was rejected as an eyewash by Balawaristan National Front whose spokesperson stated “It’s meant to detract the international community from the violation of human rights in this region.”[8] Manzoor Hussain Parwana, chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement stated “The so-called provincial setup aims at concealing the human rights violations and continue the colonial control over the region.”[8]

In early September 2009, Pakistan signed an agreement with China of a mega energy project in Gilgit-Baltistan which includes the construction of a 7000-megawatt dam at Bunji in the Astore District of the Gilgit-Baltistan.[9] This also resulted in protest from India, however Indian concerns were immediately rejected by Pakistan, saying the Government of India has no locus standi in the matter.[10]

On September 29, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani while addressing a huge gathering at Gilgit-Baltistan announced a multi-billion rupee development package aimed at the socio-economic uplifting people in the area. Development projects will include the areas of education, health, agriculture, tourism and basic needs of life.[11][12][13] The Prime Minister further went on to say:

"You are getting your identity today. It is your right and has been your demand, and today we are fulfilling it." [14]

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