Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said that as new Gilgit-Baltistan government was in place, the federal government would immediately launch work to grant it provisional provincial status for its uplift at par with other provinces.
Addressing the newly sworn in cabinet members, the prime minister said an exclusive committee would be tasked to work out the formalities for the provisional provincial status on timeline-basis that would meet the longstanding demand of the people.
The ceremony was attended by Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur, GB Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon and newly elected Chief Minister Barrister Khalid Khursheed.
After national anthem and recitation of Quranic verses, the GB governor administered the oath to the 12-member cabinet.
Among the newly sworn in cabinet members included Obaidullah Baig and Raja Muhammad Zakria Khan Maqpoon as senior ministers, and 10 ministers including Fathullah Khan, Javed Ali Manwa, Muhammad Kazim, Wazir Muhammad Salim, Raja Nasir Ali Khan, Raja Muhammad Azam Khan, Haji Shah Baig, Haji Gulbar Khan, Mushtaq Hussain and Haji Abdul Hameed.
This was the prime minister’s second visit to GB in as many months as during his previous tour on November 1, he had announced his government’s decision to grant provisional provincial status to the territory which fell bad on India.
The prime minister while congratulating the new GB government, hoped that they would set new precedents and standards of public service there to win the people’s hearts as well as their prayers.
He resolved that the PTI government would put the GB region on a development course, that would change people’s lives altogether through multiple projects in tourism, power, economic and health projects.
Reiterating his vision of Madinah State model for Pakistan by uplifting the poor, he announced to launch anti-poverty Ehsaas Programme in GB, besides giving Sehat Insaf Card of Rs 10 million health insurance cover, to entire GB population.
The prime minister said his government’s another major focus would be the exploitation of immense tourism potential of GB which attracted huge number of local and foreign tourists, particularly in summer.
He said the government would extend easy loans to the people to build guest rooms to accommodate tourists and help build economy on which the federal government would update the chief minister in detail.
Moreover, he said the federal government was also in talks with an Austrian company, specialized in developing skiing resorts, which had shown interest in GB observing that the area could host a skiing games for expanded time due to prolonged snow cover there, contrary to other regions. In such a case, tourism would also flourish even in the winter season, he added.
The prime minister said a 250-bed hospital in Skardu would be completed soon that would be further expanded as per local requirements.
He said considering huge potential in GB, two hydro power plants were in progress, two more were in pipeline and another two had been approved for total power generation of 300MW to meet whole GB needs. Besides, micro hydel power stations would also be installed in villages on the model of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added.
The prime minister said as the area was connected with China and an important part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a special economic zone would also be developed there.
He advised the newly elected GB government not to give up the principles of truth and honesty which were the core of the Seerah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) as well as the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
He said they had been given the power to change the people’s lives and it was the best opportunity to earn masses’ prayers which would also bring in mental peace as well as Almighty Allah’s appeasement.
Referring to opposition’s corruption, he said despite having appointed their crony as NAB head and signing Charter of Democracy with rival party, the corruption scams of the PML-N were unearthed through the Panama papers.
He said the corrupt people as well as their children had to tell lies throughout their lives just to cover up their theft.
“The (stolen) public money is Allah’s curse. I have seen Nawaz and Zardari facing (Allah’s) punishment by coming in and out of jails, moving to Saudi Arabia or London just to cover up their theft and corruption,” he remarked.
The prime minister said that for the very purpose, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was holding public gatherings despite sharp COVID spike and reported above 70 deaths on Tuesday as the country’s highest death toll during last two and half months.
He said the doctors and nurses were concerned over mounting pressure at hospitals but the PDM was adamant to hold public gatherings.
Calling stress as the root cause of all major disease like heart, blood pressure and even cancer, the prime minister referred to the grilling of ex-finance minister Ishaq Dar by BBC’s host Stephen Sackur in an interview on Tuesday where he (Dar) was visibly under immense stress for facing questions about his assets and return to Pakistan.