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‘G-B people deprived of rights to appease India’

Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur alleged Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for not providing constitutional rights to the people of G-B region to appease India.

Referring to the PML-N-formed committee on G-B under the supervision of Sartaj Aziz, the federal minister admitted the committee had given suggestions to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal governemnt on the issue. However, he questioned the inaction of the previous governments to provide the status of a province to the region.

“Why PML-N couldn’t go ahead with making G-B a province?” said Gandapur on Monday during a press conference with Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz at Press Information Department in Islamabad.

The ministers supported the allegations through citing statements of Foreign Office spokespersons who, according to Gandapur, had claimed that they were barred from issuing statements against India.

Commenting on PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s statement that Kashmir was allegedly being sold, Gandapur reiterated allegations, saying the PPP government also did not take steps for the rights of G-B people because “it did not want to upset Indian government”. He reminded people of G-B to recognize the leaders busy in doing ‘dirty politics’ on the issue.

“The issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) will soon be resolved because Prime Minister Imran Khan is fighting the case,” announced Gandapur. “[Also,] we will give G-B the status of a province,” he said, adding the government needed two-third majority for the initiative and needed opposition’s support for it.

Gandapur said the government invited the opposition parties to discuss the electoral reforms in G-B in line with the PTI manifesto related to reforms and holding transparent elections in G-B. “I regret they [opposition parties] did not accept our invitation,” said Gandapur. “I and NA speaker have again invited them through a letter seeking their input for reforms and conveyed that their suggestions would be valued.”

However, the opposition had announced not to cooperate with the government inside and outside the parliament after refusing to attend the moot called by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on G-B.

The minister speculated that the opposition parties had apparently refused to sit with the government so that they can later blame the government over rigging in the polls – scheduled for November 15.

Highlighting another aspect of the issue, Gandapur said people of G-B were demanding the status of a province for a long time and, in this regard, all political parties had unanimously adopted a resolution, saying G-B should be given the status of a provisional province in the National Assembly in 2017.

“In 2018, a summary was made part of the cabinet agenda demanding G-B should be given provisional status. However, the issue was deferred because of some technicalities and the opinions of Foreign Office, security agencies, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Hurriyat Conference were required before moving ahead,” said the minister.

Gandapur maintained the relevant ministry started meetings with stakeholders, including international experts, to understand and ensure the impact of the decision on the IIOJK cause.

“After clearing that the decision would not impact our stance on IIOJK issue, we proceeded to make it [G-B] a province”, he said, adding various politicians issued misleading statements, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, alleging the government for selling IIOJK.

Also, the minister slammed his opponent Rehman and accused him of drinking Lassi costing millions of rupees which damaged the national exchequer while he headed the Kashmir Committee.

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