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G-B assembly: Lawmakers demand LG polls next year

The Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) on Monday unanimously passed a resolution demanding local government elections in the region.

 The resolution was tabled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Raja Jahanzeb Khan, the lone representative of the party in the GBLA.

However, all members in the house accorded approval to the resolution.

“It is very important to have local body elections in the region,” said Jahanzeb who also read out his resolution. “[Local govt elections] should take place by next year at all costs,” he said told the house.

Jahanzeb, who hails from Ghizer valley, said that the last time local body elections took place in the region was when a military dictator ruled the country. He added that it was regrettable that no democratically elected government had taken any steps to hold local government elections in the region, weakening the system.

Other lawmakers echoed Jahanzeb’s sentiments, lamenting that democratically elected governments had failed to take local body polls seriously and development funds were used through the bureaucracy.

“The absence of local government elections only strengthened the bureaucracy while depriving the people of the fruits of democracy,” complained another lawmaker.

The G-B assembly had passed the Local Government Act in 2014. The bill had been drafted by the G-B Policy Institute (GBPI), a non-profit organisation, after holding a series of consultations with stakeholders in G-B and Islamabad. The incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after coming to power, suggested amendments to the act, which were recently incorporated, but the party has yet to move ahead with holding elections in the region.

After a while, the PTI lawmaker tabled another resolution in the assembly, calling for condemning Indian army’s aggression along the line of control. The resolution also demanded a plebiscite in Kashmir under United Nation’s resolutions and expressed solidarity with victims of Indian firing.

The house unanimously adopted this resolution as well.

In another resolution tabled by Parliamentary Secretary on Tourism Barkar Jamil, the house unanimously paid tribute to famous mountaineer Hassan Sadpara. The demand to rename Skardu airport after the mountaineer was also approved.

Sadpara, who was among a handful of Pakistani mountaineers to successfully scale Mount Everest, died late last month after battling blood cancer. The resolution gave consent to establishing a department or a mechanism which could look after national heroes during their lifetime.

In another resolution, the house demanded the appointment of an auditor general for the region.

Source: The Express Tribune

Byline: Shabbir Mir

December 20, 2016

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