Archive for the ‘Azad Kashmir’ Category

Protest sit-in at Gilgit helipad

June 21, 2010

Dawn, 6 May 2010,

GILGIT:A group of people from Gojal Tehsil of Hunza-Nagar District staged a sit-in at the helipad here on Saturday after the authorities refused to airlift them to their native town as they were stuck up in the city for the last seven days.

Barkatullah Baig, a resident of Sost, told Dawn that he was visiting the helipad for the last seven days but unable to be get a chance to be airlifted to his native town.

Another person from the same locality told this correspondent that earlier they complained about the attitude of the military personnel deputed at helipad but no one was ready to pay heed to their grievances.

Iman Ali, a student at National University of Modern Languages (NUML) of Islamabad said that he was struggling for the last five days to get a seat on the helicopter but could not do so.

He said that he had become out of cash as he had already spent whatever he had in hotel and now facing a great hardship.

An old man alleged that he had been observing that only those persons are given chance and facilitated who have contacts at higher level otherwise for a poor man travelling on helicopter is like crying for moon.

Duty Magistrate, Iqbal Jan, however rejected the allegations and said that helicopter service has been suspended for the last three days due to inclement weather and on Saturday five sorties were made to transport relief goods.

Our Correspondent from Hunza adds: The rise in Hunza lake water level halted on Saturday with the increase in the outflow, experts told Dawn.

According to the experts monitoring the water level in the lake, the inflow in the lake remained at 4,650 cusecs against the outflow of 4,800 cusecs.


Free ration scheme for IDPs of Hunza announced

June 20, 2010

Dawn, 2 June 2010,

HUNZA: The federal government and the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on Tuesday announced free ration scheme for internally-displaced persons (IDPs) of Gojal and Hunza as an additional relief measure.

Earlier the government had pledged provision of wheat free of cost and education fee to the affected people.

“The federal government with the cooperation of GB administration has spent Rs365 million so far on supplying food, establishing tents and providing other necessities of life,” said Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo at a press conference here.

Flanked by Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Mehdi Shah, Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhtar and Speaker Assembly Wazir Baig, Mr Wattoo said he was making frequent visits to review the situation and arrangements made for the IDPs.

He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements of the GB government for temporary settlement of the IDPs and subsequently to facilitate them in different sectors.

Referring to the current status of lake, he said the situation is satisfactory. “The water is overflowing gradually, without causing damage to all those 33 villages, which were vacated as a precautionary measure,” he added.

M Wattoo dubbed Prime Minister Package for the affected persons as a ‘tentative relief measure,’ saying that the compensation would be given after making assessment of the losses.—APP

Discontent more in held Kashmir than in AJK: survey

June 1, 2010

Dawn, 31 May 2010,

ISLAMABAD: A recent survey has found a higher percentage of discontented people in occupied territory than in Azad Kashmir.

The survey titled ‘Kashmir: Paths to peace’ conducted by British academic Robert Bradnock and released by a UK-based think-tank shows that people living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) consider “unemployment, government corruption and poor economic development” as their three top problems, but the number of discontented people is much higher in occupied Kashmir.

The survey was released by the Chatham House think-tank in London last week.

It says that for a very large majority of the population in both parts of Kashmir — 81 per cent — unemployment is the most significant problem faced by the people. However, 87 per cent people of occupied Kashmir see unemployment as the biggest problem as compared to 66 per cent in Azad Kashmir.

The findings show that 68 per cent people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir term government corruption a big problem whereas only 22 per cent in AJK consider it a problem for themselves.

Similarly, 45 per cent people in occupied Kashmir and 42 per cent in AJK consider less economic development a major problem.

About 43 per cent people of occupied Kashmir describe human rights abuse as one of their biggest problems as compared to 19 per cent in AJK.

The survey reveals that 36 per cent people of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and 24 per cent of AJK consider the Kashmir conflict itself as their main problem.

The survey shows that Baramula, Srinagar and Anantnag districts in occupied Kashmir are the worst places as far as incidents of human rights abuses are concerned as 88 per cent, 87 per cent and 73 per cent people of the three districts, respectively, declared it their main problem.

In Azad Kashmir, 32 per cent in Bhimber and 31 per cent in Kotli termed human rights abuses as the biggest problem.

Dr Robert Wirsing, a US author on South Asian issues, said at the ceremony held at the time of the survey’s release that the water issue had not been covered by the study.

In Pakistan, rivers were drying up perhaps more because of climatic changes but also because of construction of dams and hydroelectric projects by India on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers.

Dr Wirsing said the water issue needed urgent attention because it might raise tension between the two countries.

During the survey carried out in October last year, about 3,800 people in seven districts of AJK and 11 districts of occupied Kashmir were interviewed.

Kashmiri majority not in support of independence

May 31, 2010

Dawn, 28 May 2010,

SRINAGAR: Less than half of residents in both zones of Kashmir favour independence as a solution to end unrest in the disputed Himalayan region, a survey said on Thursday.

Conducted by British academic Robert Bradnock, the independent survey found that 44 per cent of people in Azad Kashmir favoured independence, and 43 per cent in occupied Kashmir.

United Nations resolutions soon after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 called for a plebiscite to determine whether the region should belong to India or Pakistan.

“These results support the already widespread view that the plebiscite options are likely to offer no solution to the dispute,” said the survey, which was released by the London-based Chatham House think-tank.

Titled “Kashmir: Paths to Peace”, it was a rare attempt to assess the opinions of people on both sides of the Line of Control.

“Any solution will depend on the Indian and Pakistani governments’ commitment to achieving a permanent settlement,” Bradnock said.

The survey interviewed about 3,800 people to record their views on how they saw the future of Kashmir.

In the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, which has been at the heart of a 20-year-old struggle against Indian occupation, between 74 per cent and 95 per cent respondents favoured independent Kashmir.

But in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region support for independence dwindled to less than one per cent.

The survey found that the “overwhelming majority” of people wanted a solution to the dispute, even though there were no “simple fixes”.

More than 47,000 people have died in occupied Kashmir since the eruption of the movement in 1989.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, but a recent peace process has brought a reduction in violence.–AFP

PM reiterates Pak stand on Kashmir issue

May 19, 2010

The News, 18 May 2010,

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, while reiterating Pakistan’s principled stand on the Kashmir issue, has said the Kashmir dispute would continue to remain relevant to the world due to its strategic importance.

The prime minister was talking to AJK PM Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider, who called on him, at the PM’s House here on Monday. Gilani said the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people could help efforts for peace and economic prosperity in this part of the world. He said Pakistan will continue extending its political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir and the whole nation is united on this issue. Gilani asked the AJK government to focus its energies on the improvement of the living standard of the people by promoting good governance at every level. He said the funds allocated for the development projects in the AJK would be timely released and these should be diligently utilised so that the benefit could reach the masses in time. He stressed that effective monitoring of the ongoing development activities by the elected representatives would help improve its execution as well as quality.

G-B has vast potential for investors: CM

May 18, 2010

Dawn, 16 May 2010,

SKARDU: A two-day International Investors Conference started in Skardu on Saturday to explore prospects of investment in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Ambassadors of 24 countries including, Japan, Britain, Russia, South Korea and Iran and about 40 investors from Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry are attending the conference.

Addressing the inaugural session, Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Syed Mehdi Shah, said that the GB was the most suitable region for investment in Pakistan as it offered very peaceful environment.

He said Gilgit-Baltistan government would extend full cooperation to the national and international investors in the region. He added, though Gilgit Baltistan had no issue of law and order, however, the investors would be given full security. He hoped that Pakistani ambassadors would mobilise and motivate the investors of their respective countries to invest in the region and also urged the LCCI to invest in Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Mian Shafqat Ali, advisor to governor Gilgit-Baltistan briefed the participants of the conference about the aims and objectives of the conference.

Gilgit-Baltistan Minister Wazir Shakeel Ahmed, Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob also addressed the conference. They said the GB had vast potential for investment in tourism, minerals, agriculture and hydro electric power.

Later, the participants also visited different stalls of local industries like gems, and mineral, home industries, local food, tourism and dry fruits and expressed their keen interest in the local products. The conference would pass a joint declaration at its conclusion.

APP adds: Chief Minister GB Syed Mehdi Shah said all available resources were being utilised to control the situation arising out of the creation of Hunza lake and that there was no chance of its bursting.

In a telephonic conversation with PTV, Mehdi Shah said special committees were working and spillway at the natural lake formed at Atta Abad due to landsliding, which blocked Hunza River, had been completed and chances of any dangerous situation had been reduced to a large extent.

“We are fully alert. All is set to deal with any situation. Special camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been set up.

All arrangements for drinking water, shelter and security have been made besides storage of food items, medicines and other material,” he added.

He said the army with the help of civil administ- ration was carrying out relief operation.

PM to address joint sitting of GBLA, council

May 17, 2010

Dawn, 15 May 2010,

GILGIT: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will address a joint sitting of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and Council on Monday.

He would also visit Hunza and meet the people affected by the lake’s water.

Official sources said the prime minister on the occasion would also administer oath to two members of the council. The members are advocate Amjad Hussain and Prof Ghulam Hussain Salim.

It would be the first joint sitting of the assembly and council.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has directed all the officials of Gilgit and Hunza Nagir to remain present on their duty.

They have been asked to seek permission of the respective deputy commissioner for any leave, according to a circular of the services department.

In another circular, administrative secretaries have been asked to remain present at their stations and get prior approval of the chief secretary of the region if they wanted to take any leave.

The directions have been issued to tackle any untoward situation emerging from Hunza lake, officials said.

They said all precautionary measures were being taken to save properties and lives of the people living on either sides of Hunza river.

Thousands of people at risk as flooding feared in Gilgit

May 14, 2010

The News, 13 May 2010,

GILGIT: Thousands of villagers in Gilgit risk losing their homes to a lake formed by a landslide that could burst its banks within days, officials warned Wednesday. Possible disaster also threatens the popular tourist resort of Gulmit on the main Karakoram Highway linking Pakistan with China, part of which has already closed, they said.

About 1,700 people have been forced to flee their homes after floods swept through Ayeenabad and Shishkat villages in the district of Hunza, wiping out dozens of houses about 750 kilometres north of Islamabad. “We are expecting water from the 15 kilometre-long lake to reach the spillway by May 27 and then (overflowing) will begin,” local official Asif Bilal Lodhi said.

Lodhi, who heads the local Disaster Management Authority, said preparations were finalised to shelter around 18,000 people from villages in Hunza and Gilgit districts who could be affected.The military-run National Disaster Management Authority said 36 villages have been identified for evacuation in case the waters burst.

The lake was created out of the Hunza river by a landslide on January 4 that killed 20 and left about 25,000 people stranded when the river was blocked.Authorities in the remote Himalayan region have set up nine relief centres where medicines and food items are being stockpiled for people who could be uprooted from low-lying areas. They have also installed warning sirens linked to a control room in Gilgit, the nearest large town.

In the scenic town of Gulmit, popular with tourists escaping the brutal summer heat in Pakistan’s lowlands, residents have felled trees as the water level in the lake has risen to over 300 feet.

The water is expected to rise further because of rain and melting glaciers.A spillway, being built by army engineers to avert possible disaster, will take an estimated two more weeks to complete. It should divert the water back to its old route winding into the Gilgit river. Meanwhile, people in Gojal town have been forced to take boats after roads were left under water.

Resignations of CJs end AJK crisis

May 13, 2010

Dawn, 12 May 2010,

MUZAFFARABAD: Justice Reaz Akhtar Chaudhry, the non-functional chief justice of the AJK Supreme Court, and Manzoor Hussain Gillani, the acting chief justice, resigned on Monday, ending the month-long judicial crisis in the region.

They sent their resignations to President Raja Zulqarnain Khan who appointed Justice Khwaja Shahad Ahmed, the only permanent judge of the apex court, as Acting Chief Justice.

According to sources, the minus-two formula was worked out after hectic negotiations and intervention by influential quarters.

Justice Ahmed was administered oath by the president at the Kashmir House in Islamabad. Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and ministers and senior government officials attended the oath-taking ceremony.

Earlier, the AJK law department issued notifications about the acceptance of resignations of Justice Reaz and Justice Gillani and the appointment of Justice Ahmed.

Section 42(8) of AJK Interim Constitution Act of 1974 empowers the president to appoint the acting chief justice. He can also appoint the permanent chief justice, but on the advice of the AJK Council chairman (the prime minister of Pakistan).

Prime Minister Haider had on April 3 sent a reference to Acting President Shah Ghulam Qadir against Justice Reaz, accusing him of subverting and violating the constitution and committing misconduct.

The reference was filed in the region’s Supreme Judicial Council. It rendered Justice Reaz dysfunctional pending an inquiry and final report of the SJC headed by Justice Gillani and comprising High Court Chief Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal and ad-hoc judge Chaudhry Ibrahim Zia.

President Raja Zulqarnain was shocked by the development and he cut short his UK visit and returned home the following day.

He ordered withdrawal of the reference and reinstatement of the non-functional chief justice, but the order was not implemented by the government which said it was unconstitutional.

On April 7, the president reportedly constituted a parallel SJC and filed a reference against Justice Gillani and Justice Mughal.

AJK chief secretary transferred

May 11, 2010

Dawn, 10 May 2010,

MUZAFFARABAD: The federal government transferred on Sunday the chief secretary of Azad Jammu and Kashmir in a move to appease some leaders of the AJK chapter of People’s Party (PPAJK) who considered him an obstacle to their efforts to reinstate AJK Supreme Court’s non-functional chief justice.

Mr Sultan has been replaced by Muhammad Shahzad Arbab, one of the five BPS-21 additional secretaries in the President’s Secretariat, Islamabad.

Mr Arbab called on Prime Minster Raja Farooq Haider in Kashmir House, Islamabad, on Sunday evening and is likely to take up his new assignment on Monday.

Some top PPAJK leaders, associated closely with President Asif Ali Zardari, had been trying for some weeks to get Mr Sultan ousted from AJK. These efforts were reportedly backed by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo who has not hidden his leaning for an “out of box” solution to the AJK’s judicial issue.

They (PPAJK leaders) had been constantly convincing their leadership in Islamabad that “despite being a representative of the federal government the chief secretary was not supporting them in AJK and should, therefore, be transferred,” informed sources told Dawn.

Since the chief secretary was abiding by the AJK government he had also become a “persona non grata” in the “R” Block which houses the Kashmir Affairs’ Ministry. Last month, PPAJK president Chaudhry Abdul Majeed used obnoxious language against Mr Sultan in the presence of a PPP MNA and reportedly vowed to get the chief secretary ousted from the AJK.

Simultaneously, a smear campaign was also launched against Mr Sultan by a section of press to which he had served legal notices.

Interestingly, an intelligence agency, whose role in the ‘out of turn’ elevation of Justice Reaz Akhtar Chaudhry as the CJ is an open secret, was also unhappy with Mr Sultan and was reportedly gathering information to prepare grounds for his exit from here, the sources added.

The chief secretary is the most important tool in the administrative machinery of AJK and if he is non-cooperative he can frustrate the working of the government.