The Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan was held on Thursday.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Sajid Mir and was attended among others by Senator Lt.Gen (R) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt, Senator Dr. Shehzad Waseem, and senior officers of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs Gilgit Baltistan, Government of Gilgit Baltistan and the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Committee was briefed about the development work in AJK & GB during the last five years.
Regarding AJK the Committee was briefed on the socio-economic indicators such as per capita power availability, rural urban ratio, unemployment rate, literacy percentage, etc.
The Committee was informed that the development programs had been formulated with a view to translate Government of Pakistan’s vision, goals and objectives into five year plans.
Deliberating over overall investment the Committee was informed that there has been 99 percent utilization of funds during 2017 - 18 and that alone speaks volumes of the development needed in the region.
Establishment of Bomb Disposal Services along 6 sub-divisions located along the LOC, Forest plantation on 45231 acres of land, ensuring drinking water supply to 9 districts and free emergency medicines to DHQ hospitals and provision of interest free loans for social enterprise development were miles tones that were achieved in AJK.
About projects and funding the Committee was further informed that the only hurdle that the Government of AJK faced was from the Finance Division in Pakistan. Chairman Committee, Senator Sajid Mir directed that Finance Division be summoned in the next meeting.
Regarding Gilgit Baltistan the Committee was informed about the year wise utilization and allocation of funds. In 2017 -18 cent percent utilization was seen. Deliberating over the issue, it was revealed that the electricity demand-supply gap was a major issue that Gilgit and Baltistan faced at this point and donors are required for power sector projects. In addition to this, delay in CPEC projects, lack of M&E system, lack of coordination and due diligence and quality issues were other challenges that are being faced by the Government of Gilgit and Baltistan.
Tourism, Energy, Infrastructure, Education, Health and Nutrition, clean drinking water and sanitation, etc were listed as priority sectors for the next five years. Regarding tourism the Committee was informed that the Souter/AJK link is imperative for its promotion in the region.
Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt, was of the view that the Committee needs to look into matters of occupied Kashmir and the atrocities committed there. He recommended that the Kashmir Office must be opened in every country. The Committee recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be summoned in the next meeting.