Imran Khan speaks to the participants of the Azadi Parade in Gilgit-Baltistan on Sunday. PTI Twitter photo
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced the provisional provincial status for Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as he addressed the region on the 73rd Independence Day celebrations.
Imran said he was happy that he was here for a second time to celebrate this day with the people and it will be his effort for as long as he was the prime minister to spend this day with them.
"I want to pay tribute to GB scouts and those martyrs who gave sacrifices and freed this region. I wanted to congratulate people of GB on another thing: our decision to give GB provincial status. This decision has been taken while keeping in view the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions."
He said he could not speak in detail about a development packages since it would be a violation of the stated procedures as elections were about to take place in the area but assured the people that his government would prioritise helping the poor and people from underdeveloped areas.
The prime minister visited the national park in Astore and reviewed the work being done on the Diamer-Bhasha dam.
Every year on November 1, the region of GB officially celebrates its independence from Kashmir’s Dogra family rule. Gilgit was liberated on November 1, 1947 while Baltistan was freed in 1948 as a result of a bloody freedom war. However, the struggle to integrate the region in Pakistan continues.
The prime minister said that one of the many reasons Gilgit-Baltistan remained backwards was because it was "cut off" from the rest of Pakistan.
Imran Khan during his visit to GB. Twitter photo
"Insha'Allah you will see in the coming days, our development plans will go there [backward areas]," he said.
Training his guns on the rival leaders, Imran Khan said that the fact that the opposition was criticising the chiefs of Pakistan army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) proved that he had appointed the right people to the posts.
The premier, who visited Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) to mark the 73rd Independence Day of the region, was speaking to the attendees and participants of the Azadi Parade.
"If these thieves (opposition) are speaking against them, it means they (chiefs) are the right people," he said, responding to the recent remarks from the opposition camp.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his speech from London to the anti-government rallies of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has alleged that Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed orchestrated his government's ouster in 2017 and rigged the 2018 general elections to "impose the ‘incompetent’ Imran Khan" on the nation.
Imran said the opposition parties have been blackmailing the government since day one to grant them amnesty. He said that the NRO given to the opposition by Pervez Musharraf had had disastrous effects on Pakistan, leading to an increase in debt liabilities.
The prime minister expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the current local governments and said a system was being introduced at the village level under which funds would be transferred directly to the councils.
Imran said that the ticket prices for the Peshawar BRT were "just right." "Our programmes should give priority to improving the lives of the common man. Everyone can afford the ticket which ranges from Rs10 (0.02 files) to Rs50 (Dh1.02). There are also tickets for students to make travelling easier for them and hospitals have been connected so people will no longer face difficulties in this regard.”
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