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The Gilgit-Baltistan Reforms 2009

The Gilgit-Baltistan Reforms 2009

Author:
Publisher: Unknown
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

TheGilgit-Baltistan Reforms 2009

December 2009

Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-governance Order 2009

Altaf Hussain

The Forum of Federations project in Pakistan is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Contents

THE GILGIT-BALTISTAN REFORMS 2009 5

1- Background 5

2- Introduction 8

3- Chronological Order of Administrative and Self-Governance Reforms (1947- 2009) 10

4- Political Movements 12

5- The Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 13

1- Gilgit Baltistan Assembly 14

2- Gilgit Baltistan Council 14

3- Stakeholder’s Views 15

4- People of Gilgit-Baltistan 17

5- Challenges 18

Legal and constitutional protection 18

Integration into the Federation 18

Taxation and revenue generation 18

Defining roles and responsibilities 19

6- Elections of Gilgit Baltistan 2009 20

Party Positions in GBLA 20

7- Recommendations 22

Annexure 24

Bibliography 24

THIRD SCHEDULE 25

FOURTH SCHEDULE 29

THE GILGIT-BALTISTAN REFORMS 2009

1- Background

The Government of Pakistan introducedGilgit -Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009”on August 28, 2009. The reforms package was introduced through a presidential order which was approved by the Federal Cabinet and set forth for immediate implementation. It was a matter of celebration for the people of GB that they are going to have their own Governor and Chief Minister and the status similar like a province but not a province because of denied representation in the Parliament and the Senate of Pakistan. Through the reforms another setup has been created similar like AzadJamu and Kashmir, the GB Council headed by the Prime Minster of Pakistan. These two parallel arrangements on the other hand, increase the prevailing confusion of the local population in order to explain the future of the area with regards to its constitutional inclusion in Pakistan as fifth province or integration withJamu and Kashmir as one of the unit of probable plebiscite.

The Northern Areas of Pakistan now named as “Gilgit -Baltistan ” is the homeland of 1.5 million people left constitutionally indeterminate state for long time after its annexation with Pakistan in 1947. The area is divided into two entities ofGilgit andBaltistan which further divided into seven administrative districts of,Gilgit ,Ghizer ,Hunza -Nagar,Astore ,Diamer ,Ghanche andSkardu .Gilgit -Baltistan (GB) is situated in the north of Pakistan bordered with China, India, Afghanistan and Tajikistan viaWakhan Corridor. The GB covers about 72,400 square kilometers area, hosting the intersection point of world’s largest mountain ranges of Himalaya,Hindukush and Karakoram, second highest peak of the world K-2 and the largest ice mass out of poles in the world. The GB’s geo-strategic relevance has been growing rapidly in the last few decades as an emerging hinterland for energy, trade and water corridors linking South, West and Central Asia. The intense debate about providing access to one of the world's largest oil reserves located in Central Asia to energy-starved global economies is provoking new strategic thinking in many important capitals.

The GB was called Frontier Province of Jammu and Kashmir State after its occupation byDogra Kashmiris in the nineteenth century. British government took possession ofGilgit Agency from the Kashmir State Government through a lease agreement for 60 years on March 29, 1935 and returned back the area to the State Government on August 1, 1947, following the decision of British Government of dividing sub continent into two sovereign states of India and Pakistan. During the joint rule by British andDogras the area was administratively divided intoGilgit Wazarat andLadakh Wazarat .Gilgit Wazarat had no representation in State Assembly while five (5) representatives fromLadakh Wazarat were elected in the elections held during 1934, 1937, and 1941 and in the last assembly which was terminated in 1947[1] .

In 1947 when the British Government decided to return the GB to State of Kashmir, the local armed groups under the command of local Rajas[2] andMirs joined by Muslim officers of the State Army revolted against the Governor of State of Kashmir and the whole area was liberated on November 1, 1947. An interim Revolutionary Government was constituted under Raja ShahRais Khan ofGilgit as head of the State. This self government survived for sixteen days and then approached to the government of Pakistan for assistance in running affairs of the newly established government of GB. Responding to the request, a junior (non-commissioned) officer was sent toGilgit on November 16, 1947 as political agent by Government of Pakistan[3] .

An agreement was signed between the Government of Pakistan and Government of Azad[4] Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) in April 1949 in which the administrative control ofGilgit andBaltistan was temporarily assigned to Government of Pakistan (vide sub-clause 8 of section-3 of the Agreement). This agreement further enhanced the legitimacy of controlling GB by Government of Pakistan through appointment of a Political Agent[5] . When the United Nations established the Cease-fire Line in 1949, in Kashmir and later renamed as Line of Control (LoC ) underShimla Agreement in 1972, the Cease-fire (control) Line was also established in GB and U.N. Observers were posted on the control line betweenLadakh andGilgit Baltistan borders.

Sinkiang-Kashmir Border Agreement or Sino-Pak Boarder Agreement signed between Pakistan and China in 1963 includes a clause (article 6) which clarifies that after the Kashmir dispute is resolved; the government in power in Northern Areas and the Peoples Republic of China will re-negotiate the agreement. “Through its letter dated 16th March 1963, addressed to the President of the U.N. Security Council India lodged protest against the Sino-Pak Agreement and termed the agreement as violation of the resolutions of the Security Council and the U.N Commission for India-Pakistan (UNCIP[6] ). Pakistan’s clarified its position saying that Northern Areas were integral part of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, and their fate is yet to be decided along with the rest of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, through a plebiscite as provided in the U.N. resolutions. The Government of Pakistan further clarified that the Boundary Agreement (between Pakistan and China) would not affect the status of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.[7]

2- Introduction

Since 1947 the constitutional and administrative status and fundamental human and political rights of the people of GB has been a discussion point between Government of Pakistan, Government of AJ&K andJamu and Kashmir and to some extent with the government of India although it has been a non negotiable issue on the agenda of Pakistani delegates visiting India. The Constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973[8] of Islamic Republic of Pakistan do not recognize GB as part of Pakistan but democratic governments and Military Dictators of Pakistan have introduced various governing reforms in the area under different names in order to align it with the emerging economic and political needs of the country.

A number of measures taken by Government of Pakistan to annex the region with its federation which include the reforms of ZA Bhutto in 1970’s and declaration of Martial Law Zone E in the regime of Ziaul -Haq in 1977, that further blurred the picture of legal and constitutional status of the region. The position of Pakistan with reference to its stance on Kashmir Issue has been totally different to its actions in GB. Both the courts of laws of AJ&K and Pakistan were knocked through civil petitions by the people to clarify the legal and constitutional status of GB.

March 18, 1993: Decision of Azad Kashmir High Court (Full Bench)

The Northern Areas (Gilgit andBaltistan ) are part of Azad Kashmir, historically and constitutionally.

Under the Provisional Constitutional Act, 1974, the (A.K.) High Court has the right to hear all petitions concerning Azad Kashmir and the Court also has right to hear cases in all matters pertaining to Northern Areas.

The Azad Kashmir government should establish administrative and legal institutions in these areas (GB).

September 14, 1994: Decision of Azad Kashmir Supreme Court against decision of High Court March 18, 1993

No doubt, that Northern Areas is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir – but not of Azad Kashmir. Therefore, the government needs not to take administrative control of these areas.

May 29 1999: Decision of Supreme Court of Pakistan (reference to AJ&K HC Decision)

…“that Northern Areas were constitutional part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir... that the people of the Northern Areas are citizens of Pakistan for all intent and purposes”.

The government of Pakistan should ensure that basic human rights and other political and administrative institutions are provided in the areas within six months. However, the action should not adversely affect Pakistan’s stand concerning the Kashmir dispute.

The Chief Justice AJ&K High Court (Retired)Majid Malik commented on the decision of the Supreme Court against his decision he said “Actually the Supreme Court had agreed with my decision but section 2 of the Interim Constitution of AJ&K 1974 confines the boundaries of AJ&K to its present limitation and the supreme Court considered that GB doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the AJ&K High Court while my interpretation about the jurisdiction is that the area got free fromDogra Rule in 1947-48 including all parts of GB is under the jurisdiction of constitutional ambit of AJ&K”[9] .

3- Chronological Order of Administrative and Self-Governance Reforms (1947- 2009)

After taking over of the control of GB by Government of Pakistan in 1947, the colonial law of Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) was enforced over whole area. The FCR was imposed in all the agencies annexed with Pakistan including Federally Administrative Tribal Areas. Under this English law for the tribal areas and GB a civil servant exercised all judicial and administrative powers. However, before November 1947 under the state of Jammu and Kashmir, an independent judicial system for the areas was in placed, with right of appeal before the Kashmir High Court. While under the FCR the Political Agent inGilgit was placed under the Political Resident of the NWFP which was an attempt to include the area into administrative control of a province of Pakistan. Over the time administrative and political reforms were introduced by the Government of Pakistan responding to increasing demand from the local people are listed mentioned in chronological order:

1950 Establishment of the Ministry: The federal Government established the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) and transferred the affairs of the Northern Areas to the Ministry.

1952 Appointment of Resident : A Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs was appointed as Resident in the Northern Areas with all administrative and judicial authorities.

1967 Empowerment of Resident : The Ministry of Kashmir Affairs introduced reforms by transferring powers of High Court and Revenue Commissioner to the Resident and appointed two Political Agent one each forGilgit andBaltistan . District level powers delegated to the PoliticalAgent to act as District and Session Judge, Revenue Collector, Commissioner for FCR, Chief of Police and Controlling Officer of Cooperative Society.

1970 Establishment of Representative Body of Northern Areas: The elections of 16 members of Northern Areas Advisory Council (NAAC) were conducted for the first time. While the Council had the power to sanction development schemes and all other matters were beyond its powers.

1972 Re-designation of the post of Resident as Resident Commissioner: Through a Presidential order 1972, the post of Resident was re-designated as Resident Commissioner andGilgit andBaltistan Agencies were transformed into districts by appointing Deputy Commissioners along with creating an additional district ofDiamer .

1974 Z.A Bhutto Reforms : The government of Z. A. Bhutto announced a package of administrative and judicial reforms by abolishing the State ofHunza and Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR). The Rajas (rulers) of abolished States were given government jobs and maintenance allowances. Two additional districtsGhizer andGanche were created.

1977 Imposition of Martial Law and Zone E : When General Zia-ul -Haq imposed Martial Law in Pakistan the GB was declared as Zone-E and imposed Martial Law in the area. This was the first major step towards the deviation of Pakistan’s stand about on GB with regard to Kashmir issue. The representatives from GB were included in theMajlis -e-Shura .

1985 Appointment of Advisor to Kashmir Affair: A high power Committee was constituted by the government including Federal Secretaries of Finance, Planning, Law, Interior, Education, and Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KA&NA) for introducing the reforms in GB. On recommendations of the committee a representative from Northern Areas Aga Ahmad Ali Shah was appointed as Advisor to Minister Kashmir Affairs.

1988 Appointment of Advisor to Prime Minister: The democratic government of Ms. Benazir Bhutto appointed an elected representative of Northern Areas Council Mr.Qurban Ali as Advisor to Prime Minister with equal status of a State Minister.

1994 Benazir Bhutto Introduced Reforms: The Federal Cabinet approved a “Reforms Package” as Legal Framework Order 1994 through which Northern Areas Rules of Business were Framed, Chief Secretary and Civil Secretariats were established and judicial reforms were introduced. The post of Judicial Commissioner was abolished, and a 3-member Chief Court was constituted under the chairmanship of a retired Judge. Any senior judicial officer belonging to federation or the provincial High Court was eligible to be deputed as member of the Chief Court, whereas a District Session Judge from the Northern Areas is eligible to be its member.

1999 Delegation of Legislative Powers to the NALC: The LFO of 1994 was amended by empowering the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) to legislate on 49 subjects as envisaged in schedule –II of the LFO.

2005 Establishment of Apex Court: Northern Areas Court of appeals was established in addition to increasing number of six (6) reserved seats for technocrats and one additional seat for women in Northern Areas Legislative Council.

2006 Empowerment of NALC: Six (06) Advisors were appointed from the NALC members and NALC members brought at par with members of AJ&K Assembly for pay and privileges.

2007 Changing Name of NALC: The Northern Areas Legal Framework Order 1994 was renamed as Northern Areas Governance Order 1994 andamended, similarly NALC was renamed as Northern Areas Legislative Assembly.

4- Political Movements

Demand for fundamental human, political and constitutional rights was raised by the local people of GB time to time without any significant revolt against the government of Pakistan but peaceful political and constitutional efforts continued. During the course some organized and unorganized reactions erupted in the area against the decisions of officers appointed by the government of Pakistan but these issues were resolved through interventions from Islamabad.

ColonelMirza Hasan Khan an ex-officer of State Army and one of the heroes of the freedom war ofGilgit-Baltistan established a political party “TheGilgit League” in 1957 against the FCR and the party demanded political freedom and democratic rights for the people of GB. This was the first political organization established by the inhabitants ofGilgit andBaltistan in the area but was not registered under the Pakistani constitution. After the 1958 Martial Law, the organization was banned, and ColMirza Hasan joined Civil Services of AJ&K in 1961.Mirza Hasan then joined Pakistan People’s Party and was arrested by ZA Bhutto regime on political differences in 1973 and put in jail[10] .

In early seventies on dismissal of the headmistress of Girls SchoolGilgit , a local delegation went to see the Political Agent ofGilgit ; the officer insulted the local delegation. This triggered violence in the whole area. As a result, a nationalist organization “Tanzeem -e-Millat [11] ” was established and violence erupted in the whole area. During the violence one protester Mr. Rajab was killed by the government officials and arrested the top leadership of the organizations. People attacked onGilgit Jail and set freed their arrested leaders. Some of the top leaders of the organization were re-arrested and placed in Pakistani Jails includingHaripure Jail in NWFP. This was a significant mass mobilization and political movement against the FCR and against the powers exercised by the Political Agent. The first lawyer ofGilgit-Baltistan Mr.Joher Ali was the leaders of TEM movement. This moment was diluted through abolition of FCR and introduction of administrative reforms by ZA in 1972.

Later Mr.Johar Ali with his comrades established a political organization named “Gilgit-Baltistan Jamhoori Mahaz ”. His party started educating local people on their basic political and constitutional rights and staged several demonstrations against the policies of Government of Pakistan. In 1973, Mr.Johar Ali joined Pakistan People Party. He never practiced law in the court and did not recognize the state courts as constitutional setup. In eighties he was isolated from government affairs and official functions because of his nationalist ideology. He died in early nineties but still he is considered as symbol of nationalism in the area and got status of a saint for many people.

5- TheGilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009

The federation of Pakistan comprises of four provinces and for all practical purposes four non-provincial units, namely FATA, Northern Areas (GB), Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Islamabad Capital Territory. The people of theGilgit-Baltistan have been living in a constitutional vacuum for over 60 years; they are neither represented in the parliament, nor given the constitutional mandated to the local assembly. Whereas the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) have an elaborate governance structure operating under an Interim Constitution enacted by the Legislative Assembly in 1974. Even Indian-held J&K is tied to the Indian Constitution under Article 370 and has its own State Constitution (1957) – which made the status of the GB, quite illogical and unjustified even more disputed than the other disputed parts of the former princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. The other two parts the Capital Territory and the FATA have their representatives in the Parliament and the Senate.

TheGilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009was introduced in August 2009 which is heavily influenced by the AJK setup and provincial setups of Pakistan. It explains that on continues demand of local people, the democratic government of Pakistan has decided to take the GB further towards full internal autonomy and bring it at par with the provinces of Pakistan but not a province. It clearly explains that GB is not part of Pakistan in terms of Arcticle-1 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan whichspell out the territorial limits of the country. However, the present package of reforms is in-fact further up gradation of what the Northern Areas Council Legal Framework Order 1994 and the Northern Areas Governance Order 2007 offers.

The Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan constituted a high powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Minster for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas. The DG Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bauru (IB) were the members of this Committee along with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Law and Justice, Secretary Law and Justice, Secretary Cabinet, Secretary KANA and Advisor for Interior. In its various sittings the Committee discussed the present status and the reforms introduced so far in the Northern Areas and consulted informally the members of Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and the like minded public opinion leaders from different for drafting theGilgit-Baltistan Order 2009. The draft reforms package was vetted by the Law and Justice Division and approved by the Cabinet.

Under theGilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-governance order 2009 the name of the area has been changed from Northern Areas toGilgit-Baltistan , Offices of Governor, Chief Minster and Ministers are created. On pattern of AJK Council theGilgit-Baltistan Council headed by the Prime Minster of Pakistan was introduced, theGilgit-Baltistan Assembly is delegated with the powers of approving budget, the concept of Consolidated Fund was introduced and the legislative powers of the Assembly are increased from 49 to 61 subjects along with powers to legislate on all other subjects not in the domain of theGilgit-Baltistan Council.Gilgit-Baltistan Council has the power to legislate on 55 subjects. The detailed functions and procedures of running various organs ofGilgit-Baltistan’s government in light ofGilgit -Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 will be laid down inGilgit -Baltistan Rule of Business 2009 and system of Financial Management and Budgeting which in accordance with Article 22 (5). The GB 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 jurisdiction.

1-Gilgit Baltistan Assembly

The Legislative Assembly shall consist of thirty three members of whom-

(a) Twenty four members shall be elected directly on the basis of adult franchise

(b) Six women members shall be elected on the pattern as in case of reserved seat in Pakistan. One additional women seat (total 07) was created for newly created district ofHunza Nagar.

(c) Three technocrats and professional members shall be elected on the pattern as in case of reserved seat in Pakistan.

The Assembly will have its Chief Minster, Speaker and Deputy Speaker elected by the house. The lower house will have 61 subjects for legislation given in the fourth schedule of the presidential order. Mr.Mehdi Shah has been elected as Chief Minster[12] , Mr.Wazir Beig as Speaker and Mr.Jamil Ahmad as Deputy Speaker.

2-Gilgit Baltistan Council

Gilgit Baltistan Council shall consist of the following members

Prime Minister of Pakistan

Governor

Six members nominated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan from time to time from amongst Federal Ministers and members of Parliament

Provided that the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs andGilgit -Baltistan shall be an ex officio member and MinisterIncharge of the Council

The Chief Minister ofGilgit -Baltistan

Six members to be elected by the Assembly in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote

The Prime Minister of Pakistan shall be the Chairman of the Council whereas The Governor shall be the Vice-Chairman of the Council and the Minister of State for Kashmir Affairs andGilgit -Baltistan shall be an ex officionon voting member of the Council. The council will legislate in 55 subjects given in the third schedule of the Presidential order. The Governor shall be appointed by the President of Pakistan on advice of the Prime Minster. The Federal Minister Information (Ex-Minster Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas) Mr.Qamar Zaman Kaira has been appointed as interim Governor till the appointment of a local Governor from GB. On December 27, 2009 the President of Pakistan has announced that the new Governor of GB will bea women .

The appointments on constitutional positions like Governor, Chief Court with provision of 5 Judges, Auditor General, Chief Election Commissioner and Chairman Public Service Commission enhance credibility of the reforms and provide relief to the people of Pakistan similar to the people in other provinces.

3- Stakeholder’s Views

The GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 was appreciated and welcomed by large segments of the society including media, civil society and political parties of Pakistan in general. However, some segments of right wing political parties have shown their reservations referring the reforms as deviation from the principal stand of Pakistan on Kashmir issue and raised their concerns on the process of consultation through which the reforms prepared and introduced. On the bases of stakeholders view three main arguments were phrases as:

1- Majority in general and insiders of the area in particular have the opinion that the present reforms is a right step and timely decision of the government of Pakistan and sufficient to bring the people of GB at par with other provinces.

2- A considerable number of opinion leaders inside the GB and outside have the opinion that the present reforms is a positive step of the government but insufficient to bring the area at par with other provinces because this does not provide any assurance of parity.

3- The third group mainly people from civil society and human rights organization express the opinion that the present reforms is an eye wash and demands for more concrete steps like changing and amendments in the constitution of Pakistan to include the area as its constitutional parts.

Main political parties of Chartered of Democracy (CoD ) signed between Benazir Bhutto andNawaz Sharif on May 14, 2006 considers the reforms as implementation of its sub- clause- (9) under the heading constitutional amendments says “Northern Areas shall be developed by giving it a special status and further empowering the Northern Areas Legislative Council to provide people of Northern Areas access to justice and human rights”.

The only opposition against the reforms came from political parties of Jammu and Kashmir except PPP AJK from both sides of Line of Control. In a conference of stakeholders called by National Press Club Islamabad facilitated by LordNazeer of UK which was attended by more than twenty representatives of major political parties from AJK where all the Kashmiri leaders showed their reservations with the plea that the “reforms are equivalent to taking outGilgit Baltistan from Kashmir issue”. Some of the leaders including the nationalists and mainstream political parties like Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference declared that they were not taken into confidence and the action of Pakistan would give an upper hand to India as it wants the existing line of control to be accepted as international border.

RecentlyBlour [13] -Jammu and Kashmir All Parties National Alliance (APNA) arranged a stakeholder’s dialogue in National Press Club Islamabad. During the dialogue the following main statements/suggestions came out:

1- Mr. NadirHasan a nationalist leader from GB representing two Thinker Forums said that “we welcome the reforms but we need more, an independent interim local government ofGilgit -Baltistan is our right according to UNCIP Resolutions”.

2- ProfessorKhalique a nationalist leader of Kashmir said “any party or a group has no right to change the status of either part of the disputed territory includingGilgit -Baltistan if done this would not be a justified act”.

3- Choudhary Munir advocate Kashmiri Nationalist went to the extent that ”Azad Jammu and Kashmir should be merged inGilgit -Baltistan to intact the integrity of the state and on all the important positions like President and Prime Minster should be appointed from the integrated area (GB).

Former AJK Prime Minister and President, Muslim Conference,Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan welcomed the reforms package saying “I fully support the reforms package as it was the need of hour to empower the people ofGilgit andBaltistan because their rights were being denied for the last 65 years,”.

Terming theGilgit -Baltistan reforms as a ‘colonial-type’ package, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has said that it would stage a long march to Islamabad demanding the withdrawal of the package. JKLF presidentSyed FaisalNazki said that “TheKashmiris considered theGilgit -Baltistan package as an attempt to divide their homeland”.

A Quetta-based development analyst,Syed Fazl -e-Haider said that the reforms, which were announced, are targeted at providing an enhanced security cover for the region which has seen some massive Chinese investments in the recent past… Both Beijing and Islamabad are also planning to link the Karakorum Highway (KKH) to the southern Pakistani port ofGwadar in southwesternBalochistan province through the Chinese-builtGwadar-Dalbandin railway, which extends up to Rawalpindi (ANI).

The Indian Government summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of PakistanRiffat Masood and registered its strong protest against the Government of Pakistan’s “Gilgit -Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order -2009″. An Indian government spokesman described the “Gilgit -Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order -2009″ was yet another cosmetic exercise intended to camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the region (ANI).

Pakistan Army also has a stake in the area in-terms of deployment of soldiers in the border area of GB includingSiachen Glacier, and establishment of the Headquarter Force Commander (Maj. General) Northern Areas in GB but no clear statement released on the reforms package. The landline telephone communication system is still under army control in GB.

4- People ofGilgit -Baltistan

Though the opinion is divided among the masses about the reforms package however, in general the people of GB have high expectations in this regards. Majority of the people have ambitious and expectations to be part of Pakistan as a province, it was proved in the elections where people participated in high number in polling. Some of the highlights of the expectations of people of GB are presented as under because the reforms are in the initial stage of implementation phase:

1- The reforms would give the area provincial status within the constitutional jurisdiction of Pakistan

2- The powers will be shifted toGilgit Baltistan and undue interference of Ministry of Kashmir Affair and Northern Areas (KA&NA) in the petty issues of the area will end.

3- The reforms package will provide means and ways to the people ofGilgit andBaltistan to be part of the national legislature of Pakistan i.e. National assembly and Senate.

5- Challenges

Apparently there is no opposition and disagreement on the contents, proposals and language of the reforms 2009. However, the package is not without challenges and difficulties in terms of its implementation and smooth sailing.

Legal and constitutional protection

The reforms package has been promulgated through a presidential order after its approval by Federal Cabinet. The reforms were not presented before either house of the parliament with the plea that the area does not come under the purview of Pakistan’s legislature and cannot be discussed there. According to the constitution of Pakistan the president has an authority to issue orders through Ordinances whereas the same would have to be placed before the parliament for its approval with simple majority to make it an Act of the Parliament before 120 days after the ordinance was issued. In the recent past, the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued by Ex- PresidentMusharaf could not get approval of the parliament and become nullified. The executive order of the President has no legal and constitutional binding on future governments to continue the reforms.

Integration into the Federation

Gilgit -Baltistan has been gradually upgraded to the status of an administrative unit on the pattern of a province from 1972 to 2009 through various reforms. All the reforms were extra constitutional and out of the framework of settlement of Kashmir issue provided under the UNCIP resolutions. As a separate administrative unit the area has to function like other provinces in Pakistan without its representation in the legislative bodies like national Assembly and Senate. After the elections inGilgit Baltistan , the ChiefMinster of GB has been invited to participate in the meetings of Federal Cabinet as an observer that has also provided with an opportunity to interact with the top decision makers of Pakistan. Interestingly all the major political parties of Pakistan including Pakistan People Party and Muslim League (N) already integrated GB in their Central Executive Committee providing opportunity to participate in the national decision making processes. The representation in other forums like National Finance Commission (NFC) where all the Finance Ministers of provinces and Federal Finance sit and decide about distribution of financial resources among federating units is yet to be materialized. Even if the area is included in NFC, as non constitutional unit under the Article 160(1) of the 1973 constitution the representatives of GB would have no equal say in the forum where decisions are made on majority vote basis.

Taxation and revenue generation

As an administrative unit with its own governance structure the government of GB would be generating its financial resources to make its budget which is based on its resources besides the GB Consolidated Fund. To this effect the newly established government ofGilgit Baltistan and all future government would impose local taxes on public which would be highly unpopular decisions in a least developed area where economic opportunities and tax related institutional capacities are minimal and the people are living in non tariff area where a tax holiday is going on for the last 6 decades. The revenue generation and tax imposition would make the reforms unpopular among the masses. The GB government seems reluctant to imposed taxes like, income tax, sale tax, wealth tax because some of the members are planning to move a bill in the first sessions of the Assembly for removal of tax on importing goods from China[14] . The excise and taxation department has already established excise and taxation department inGilgit recently under the Finance department and planning to expend it to other districts. The current function of the department is to collect only the vehicle token (private vehicle ownership tax) which was collecting by the traffic police for several years. Since a couple years people of GB are demanding removal of the custom on import of goods from China for GB consumption. A few years back tax was introduced through telephone bills but people resisted and this tax was withdrawn.

Defining roles and responsibilities

The reforms were introduced in a simple presidential order and no debate has taken place on pros and cons of the initiative. There are some drastic changes in the reforms where a Governor and Federal Minster would be working parallel one as In-charge of theGilgit Baltistan Secretariat and the other as Deputy Chairman as well as head of the Government ofGilgit Baltistan . As theGilgit Baltistan has been ruled by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs for long time and the new governance structure with ambiguities and anomalies in roles and responsibilities among different offices would cause delays in delivery of services which would ultimately affect the performance of the government and effectiveness of the reforms.