Says government will changes lives of residents
We will change the lives of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed.
Speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of the Gilgit-Baltistan cabinet on Wednesday, he said the government has already shortlisted things it wants to do for residents of the region and a special committee has been formed.
“When I used to come here before, people asked me if they were not Pakistani and if they didn’t have rights as citizens,” the premier said. “That was when I decided that we needed to work for these people and make them feel included.”
He pointed out that the more successful way of rule in the world is self-governance. Someone sitting in Islamabad cannot decide what is best for you, it is you who knows best, PM Khan said.
He revealed a number of projects that the government will bring to the region.
The PTI government has always kept the government of Madinah as its inspiration and Madinah’s best system was its support for the poor, the prime minister said.
We plan to do the same for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, he said. Pakistan’s first and biggest poverty alleviation project, the Ehsaas Programme, will be brought to the region.
“Health cards, similar to the one distributed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, will be given to each household in the province,” the PM said, adding that with these cards residents will be able to go any hospital in the region and get medical treatment under Rs1 million.
He added that a 250-bed hospital was already under construction in Skardu.
Gilgit-Baltistan is also called the hub of tourism in Pakistan. Every summer, hundreds of tourists from across the world visit the region.
Prime Minister Khan has vowed to not just continue but also enhance this. “The region is so famous for its beauty and nature that it doesn’t even need to be marketed.
“This year, not as many tourists visited the province because of the coronavirus situation,” he lamented. “But we will ensure that next year, all the losses are covered for.”
Low-cost loans will be given to residents so that they can construct hotels and guest houses and earn money.
PM Khan remarked that in countries such as Austria and Switzerland, skiing was a sport that made huge amounts of money. He has promised to bring skiing to Gilgit-Baltistan as well.
“Last week, I has a meeting with an Austrian company that asked me if they could start a skiing setup in the region,” he said. “Pakistan has a huge potential for skiing and once it comes here, it will bring along a lot of business and profit for us.”
To solve the power woes of the people in the region, six hydro-electric plants have been planned by the government.
“Two of these units are under-construction, two are in the pipeline and the approval for two more stations has been given,” the premier said.
For small towns and villages, micro-hydel stations will be constructed.
The prime minister added that special economic zones will be developed in the region as well. “These will come in the route of the Chine-Pakistan Economic Corridor and will bring a lot of development here.”
“Despite multiple warnings by the government, the Pakistan Democratic Movement is still holding rallies,” the premier said. The burden on hospitals is increasing and people are dying everyday, but they [PDM] have turned a blind eye to reality, he said.
Concluding his address, the PM advised residents and leader in Gilgit-Baltistan to always stay resolute on two things in life: honesty and trustworthiness.
“I have known Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif for over 40 years and I can see God’s wrath coming on them.”
The prime minister announced two new high-altitude national parks in Gilgit-Baltistan, his office said in a statement. The Himalaya National Park and the Nanga Parbat NP will span over an area of 3600 square km.
The parks have unique ecological areas with biodiversity and precious flora and fauna, which include snow leopards, Himalayan brown bear, Ladakh urial, ibex, markhor and blue sheep.
The prime minister also approved the formation of GB National Parks Service which will provide 5,000 green jobs.