ISLAMABAD, Aug 29 (APP): The
Cabinet on Saturday approved a self‑governance reforms package for the country’s
Northern Areas aimed at giving it full internal autonomy besides changing its
nomenclature to Gilgit Baltistan. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani while
addressing a press conference here announced the Cabinet’s decision of ‘Gilgit‑Baltistan
Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009’ that will replace the earlier
‘Northern Areas’ Legal Framework Order 1994’.
The specially convened meeting
of the Cabinet unanimously approved the Order’s draft after being discussed with
all the stake holders.
The Prime Minister said a
high‑powered Committee under the chairmanship of Minister for Kashmir and
Northern Areas (KANA) prepared the reforms package to provide autonomy to the
He mentioned that all major
improvements for Northern Areas were made during the period of Pakistan Peoples
Party including the first Northern Areas Council Legal Framework Order 1974‑75
by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and further democratization through Northern
Areas Legal Framework Order 1994 by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
Giving details of the Order’s
salient features, Gilani said the Gilgit‑Baltistan Assembly will formulate its
own Rules of Procedures, while legislation on various subjects pertinent to
governance will be done by the Council and Assembly in their respective
Prime Minister said the area
would be given full rights as Azad Jammu and Kashmir, however it could not be
given provincial status as per the Constitution.
Regarding any impact on the UN
document about on Northern Areas, Gilani said both Foreign Office and the AJK
President had been taken onboard before the decision.
To a question, he said the
Council did not need parliament’s shelter as it had its own Rules of Business,
while Boundary Commission had already been constituted. He said election of
Chief Minister will be held in mid November.
Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for
KANA said the approved Order will be sent to President Asif Ali Zardari for
The Prime Minister said the New
Order has fifteen major parts, while the new name of Northern Areas of Pakistan
shall be Gilgit‑Baltistan as proposed under Article‑2(f).
He said there shall be a
Governor of Gilgit‑Baltistan as proposed under Article‑20 and shall be appointed
by the President of Pakistan. Till the election of the new legislative Assembly,
Federal Minister for KANA will act as Governor.
He said the Chief Minister will
be elected by the Gilgit‑Baltistan Legislative Assembly, who will be assisted by
six ministers. There shall be a provision of two advisors to the Chief Minister.
Gilani said the Legislative
assembly will have directly elected 24 members, besides six women and three
He said the decision will
empower the Gilgit‑Baltistan Council and Assembly to make laws. The subject
under which the Assembly shall now have power to make law has increased from 49
to 61 while the Council shall have 55 subjects.
The Prime Minister said in
order to empower the Council and the Assembly on financial matters, there shall
be a Council Consolidated Fund under article 54, and Gilgit‑Baltistan
Consolidated Fund under article 55.
Regarding annual budget, he
said a detailed item‑wise budget shall be presented before the Gilgit‑Baltistan
Assembly as being practiced in Pakistan and shall be accordingly voted upon as
suggested in article 56.
The Chief Judge of Supreme
Appellate Court shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Council on the Advice
of the Governor and other Judges shall be appointed by the Chairman on the
Advice of Governor after seeking views of the Chief Judge, he added.
He said the Chief Judge and
Judges of the Chief Court shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Council on
the advice of the Governor on the same pattern as it is being practiced in AJK.
He mentioned that number of
judges had been increased from three to five. The tenure of the present judges
of the Supreme Judiciary has been protected in the draft.
Another step forward to empower
the people of the areas, the Prime Minister said is the establishment of Gilgit‑Baltistan
Public Service Commission and Gilgit‑Baltistan Services under Article‑80 and 81.
He said Auditor General Gilgit‑Baltistan
will be appointed by the Governor on the advice of Council as the case in AJK.
He said there shall be a Chief
Election Commissioner under Article‑82 as well as Auditor General besides
emergency provisions under article‑83 and 87 respectively.