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Gilgit-Baltistan leaders reject Musharraf's empowerment package
Islamabad | November 02, 2007 12:24:49 PM IST
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Leaders of the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement have rejected an empowerment package provided to them by President General Pervez Musharraf on the occasion of the independent celebration of the region.

Addressing a press conference in Skardu, local politicians, scholars and social workers condemned the Musharraf regime's "blackmailing" offers that 'aimed to conceal the political atrocities on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The speakers demanded a 'fully autonomous state comprising of Gilgit and Baltistan' until the resolution of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.

Musharraf's tactics are meant to buy time and hide violations of human and political rights,' said Manzoor Hussain Parwana, the Chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement.

Under the newly announced package, the existing Northern Areas legislative council will be given the status of an assembly with powers to make its own annual budget and development plan, which earlier wasn't the case.

The post of the deputy chief executive, the number two official of the region, has been upgraded to chief executive. The post of chief executive, who is an official appointed by Islamabad and who calls the shots, has been renamed the chairman of the Council.

Ghulam Shehzad Agha Secretary General GBUM condemned the construction of Bhasha Dam on river Indus in the region and asked the people not to pay all sort of taxes including electricity bills. The government has steeply hiked electricity tariff as well as direct and indirect taxes, to the disappointment of the region's mostly impoverished people.

Shehzad says the scale of neglect of the region is criminal. Even basic facilities such as electricity, drinking water and elementary healthcare did not exist in Gilgit Baltistan. (ANI)

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