Gilgit Baltistan Bar Council Resolution Dated 04/12/2015
No. GBC-1(4)/ 2013
Office of the Vice Chairman
Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Council
The Annual General Meeting of Gilgit Baltistan Bar Council was held at the office of Gilgit Baltistan Bar Council on 04/12/2015 chaired by Mr. Shehbaz Khan Advocate, Vice Chairman. The meeting discussed the following various issues and unanimously resolved in respect of the constitutional status and related matters of GB:
- Support to Resolutions & Decisions of GB Lawyers Action Committee
The GB Bar Council fully endorses the proposals, decisions made and resolutions passed by the GB Lawyers Action Committee in respect of constitutional status and rights of Gilgit Baltistan.
- Representation in Apex Committee
The meeting raised concerns about the lack of representation of the legal fraternity of Gilgit Baltistan in the Apex Committee constituted for the determination of the sole issue of the constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan. The meeting apprised of the presence of the Federal Government Legal Expert/Advisor as member of the committee and also appreciated giving representation to AJK by inducting a legal expert as Justice Manzur Gilani in the Apex Committee. However, the meeting hoped that the legal fraternity of Gilgit Baltistan, being the actual and main stakeholder, will also be given representation in the Apex Committee before reaching a conclusion in respect of legal and constitutional future of GB.
- Political Rights & Dual Constitutional Governing System under the domain of Constitution of Pakistan
The meeting raised concerns over the circulating news about the linkage of GB issue with Kashmir conflict, whereby GB is being considered for a Provisional Provincial Status by giving representation in only the Federal Parliament on the pattern of FATA. The meeting made it clear that such kind of cosmetic & symbolic arrangement will not end the 68-year grievance and sense of deprivation of the people of GB thus it is not possible to be accepted. The people of GB, exactly in line & directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan given in judgment dated 28/05/1999, demand for a genuinely governed constitutional system to rule GB by themselves through their chosen representatives. Thus the Gilgit Baltistan Bar Council once again emphasizes and demands the Federation of Pakistan to:
- i. Make provisional/transitional arrangements in the Constitution of Pakistan till the settlement of Kashmir dispute, through making amendments in Article 1 (2), 41, 51, 59 & 175 giving the GB due representation in the both houses of Parliament, Supreme Court and other Constitutional & Economical Forums.
- ii. Insert a new Article 257- A in the Constitution to guarantee special status of Gilgit Baltistan in respect of citizenship, employments, ownership, settlement rights on their properties and natural resources and to elect a Constituent Assembly shortly to frame a separate Constitution for Gilgit Baltistan.
- Economic Rights & Financial Autonomy
The meeting discussed the economic issues of GB in depth in the light of proposed constitutional reforms. The GB Bar Council is of the firm view that without economic rights and financial autonomy, the constitutional and political governing system in GB will be meaningless. Gilgit Baltistan is the richest place in the region with respect to its tremendous natural resources of water and minerals, tourism and being a future international gateway/ trading hub due to its geo political & strategic location. The GB Bar Council thus demands the Federation of Pakistan to ensure the following economic rights along with the constitutional and political rights:
- i. China Pakistan Economic Corridor:
This project, no doubt would be a game changer not only in Pakistan but in the adjacent region as well in respect of socio-economic development. The GB Bar Council has already shown its reservations on the exclusion of GB from the 49 agreements signed between China & Pakistan and from the allocation of about 46 Billion USD for the projects being established in the four provinces in Pakistan. The legal fraternity of GB is of the view that as a result of this project, GB will be a sufferer rather than a beneficiary due to the crossing of thousands of vehicles routing 600 km in narrow valleys of GB every day creating a severe kind of environmental pollution as a result of smoke, dust, noise and other related issues. However, the people of GB would be ready to tolerate negative impacts of this mega project, provided their due rights in the benefits are protected and social and health issues are redressed as a result. Thus the GB Bar Council demands the Federation of Pakistan to:
- a. Negotiate and arrange agreements with China for the allocation of at least 35 Billion USD for the establishment of Hydro Power, Infra Structural, Minerals & Tourism based projects in Gilgit Baltistan separately, being the first neighbor & gateway of Xinjiang, the autonomous region of China. It is to be noted that out of the above mentioned 46 Billion USD worth projects in Pakistan, about 34 Billion USD have been allocated for the energy sector and interestingly none of the projects have been marked for GB having 100000 MW Hydro Power Potential.
- b. GB must be given its due share of at least 20% in all the benefits of this project including the transit fee etc.
- c. GB has three Administrative Divisions, thus instead of two, three Outlets/ Industrial Parks /Economic Zones be sanctioned accordingly.
- d. Effective representation to GB in the decision making authorities & forums of CPEC Project be ensured.
- ii. Declaration of GB as Duty & Tax Free Zone
The tremendous natural resources of 100000 Mw hydro power potential, marvelous mineral deposits and splendid tourism attractions of GB need to be harnessed in an aggressive manner by declaring GB a duty and tax free area as Dubai & Singapore. It will not only attract huge foreign investments to tap the above mentioned potential for making GB an investment hub but will also result in unbelievable development in cultural tourism as well as trade tourism in GB.
- iii. Declaration of GB as Energy Corridor
Gilgit Baltistan has a potential of more than 100000 MW hydro power generation which needs to be tapped on an emergency footing, not only to overcome power shortage and needs of Pakistan & GB but to earn foreign exchange by exporting the surplus power to neighboring countries as well. This could be done by the Federation declaring GB an ENERGY CORRIDOR to establish hydro power projects and lifting the limit of the 50 MW restriction imposed under the National Power Policy in respect of GB and allowing the GB Government to issue licenses and bring foreign investment in hydro power generation without any limits and restrictions.
Contributed for CourtingTheLaw.com by
Advocate; Vice Chairman
Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Council