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Hunza landslide death toll rises to 13

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, Jan 5: Death toll in the Monday’s disaster at Atabad rose to 13.

About 30 people are still missing. Rescue work was resumed early in the morning on Tuesday.

National Disaster management Chairman Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed, Force Commander Gilgit-Baltistan Maj Gen Bajwa, Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah, Chief Secretary Babaer Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad and other officials reached the affected area.

Thirteen bodies mostly women and children were laid to rest at Aliabad, main town of Huinza on Tuesday amid tears. The bodies were recovered from the rubble and efforts are on to rescue other people still under the rubble, by the local volunteers and rescue workers who are racing against time to rescue others.

The massive landslide, caused by shearing off a portion of the mountain, hit Atabad, a small hamlet, about twenty kilometres from main Hunza, damaging over 40 houses, a community centre, a school, cattle pens, trees and orchards, causing panic in Hunza-Nagar.

The boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza River, forming a lake that would threaten the low-lying villages and submerge many villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide has damaged over two kilometres stretch of the Karakuram Highway, disrupting all kinds of communication links and traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families have been evacuated from the village to safer places.

A thick cloud of dust blanketed the whole Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

People of Atabad village had noticed shearing off the rocks, with cracks developing fast on it in 1994 when a high magnitude of earthquake jolted the village.  Later the local authorities declared the area dangerous without making any alternative arrangement of relocation and rehabilitation of the inhabitants. The continuous geological movement had developed huge gullies in the village and surrounding mountains. The people from the dangerous zone of the village were evacuated some days ago.

The residents had conveyed to the authorities concerned about the danger.

Experts had suggested rehabilitation of the residents to some alternative area, as living in such a hazard-prone environment could result in disaster anytime.

But the local administration not responded to the concerns of the people. Had they taken the issue seriously the loss of life could have been avoided, a volunteer working with a civil society organisation said requesting not to be named.

The residents had boycotted November 2009 elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly as no candidate – either ruling party or from other parties – had taken their problem seriously.

A delegation from the village had met Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira at Karimabad Hunza to inform him about the danger. He had assured them of help but no concrete steps were taken.


Posted in Economy, Environment, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Natural Resources, Society, Water | 1 Comment »

Peace a must for development: Mutabiat

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on December 12, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HUNZA, Dec 12: Peace, harmony is prerequisite for sustainable development in Gilgit-Baltistan, said Mutabiat Shah, the newly-elected technocrat member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.

Talking to mediapersons in Gilgit, he stressed the need for promoting interfaith and cultural harmony in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“The PPP-led Government has empowered the people of Gilgit-Baltistan through the recently announced self-governance Order and it is now our responsibility to implement it and strive for the basic rights of the people and seek more steps from the federal government,” he said.

While stressing the need for a coordinated and team work, he said focus should be laid on uplift projects targetting the marginalised and left-out segments of the society. The region has great potential of power generation which needs to be exploited to augment the development process in the region, he added.

He said the students of GB need to be given education according to the region’s specificities which would further help in developing relevant human resources in the region.

Mr Mutabiat, a well reputed experienced professional with over three decades experience in development sector said he will work for introduce reforms in the prevailing outdated system and promote merit and transparency in governance the region. There is a need to enhance the capacity of local media as a watchdog on legislators and bureaucracy.

He will encourage civil society initiatives and implement projects at grassroots level institutions while utilising the experiences learnt during the engagement of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme.

He said the local support organisations (LSOs) have the capacity to increase the effectiveness in service delivery and receiving mechanisms.

He will develop a consultation body of educated youth and professionals to multiply the benefits of development and prepare youth for the future leadership positions, he added.  Mr Mutabiat wants to identify and implement projects after consultations and according to the aspirations of the local communities.

He said he will build a strong team work with Wazir Baig to implement the 19 portfolio projects which were announced during the election campaigns in Hunza. He said they will ensure to secure additional seats for Hunza in the GBLA which was the main demand during the election.

Gojal well deserves the status of sub-division after the formation of the new Hunza-Nagar district, he said.

Efforts will be made to convince NHA to take over the roads of the far-flung Shimshal, Chipurson and Misgar valleys, he added. The approval of PC-IV of different projects in health and education sectors will ensure effective service delivery to the local communities, he said. Efforts will be made to develop sense of belonging among the youth and restoration of common image and prestige of Hunza valley.

He thanked the PPP leadership for entrusting him with the position. He said the people of Gojal are committed to the PPP manifesto and will never forget the services rendered by PPP since the time of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Meanwhile, the PPP Hunza chapter also thanked President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira and other party high-ups for nominating Mutabiat Shah as member of GBLA on technocrat seat.

They expressed hope that he will utilise all his capabilities for the development of GB.

Posted in 5584, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Political Parties | Leave a Comment »

President calls upon PPP winning candidates to ‘rise to expectations of people,

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on November 23, 2009

By Our Reporter

Islamabad, November 23: President Asif Ali Zardari while felicitating the PPP winning candidates in Gilgit-Baltistan elections has urged them to rise to the expectations of the people of the area as they have reposed great confidence in the PPP. The President was talking to a delegation of PPP winning candidates in the Gilgit-Baltistan’s elections that called on him in the Presidency on Monday night. He said the Pakistan Peoples Party working on policy of reconciliation would take along all the political forces in Gilgit-Baltistan also.

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari meeting the delegation of PPP winning candidates in President House.

The President said the jubilant victory of the party in the elections had convincingly demonstrated that the PPP was a potent political force. “The people of Gilgit-Baltistan belied the inimical propaganda of adversaries, who claimed that the party had lost public support” he added.  He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had made great sacrifices for democracy and democratic struggle led by the PPP. He praised the sacrifices offered by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan on October 19, and December 27, 2007 and said they have always stood by the party in hard times. He said the party will never forget the manner in which the party workers of Gilgit-Baltistan had suffered during the dictatorship.

The President said that the government was working on various projects for poverty alleviation in Gilgit-Baltistan. He said the government was keen to exploit the economic potential of Gilgit-Baltistan with particular focus on the tourism industry for the prosperity of the poor people of the region.

He said there was great potential for power projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and assured the delegation that the government had drawn plans to harness this potential.

The delegation assured that they after forming the government would work earnestly for the welfare and uplift of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. They also expressed complete confidence in the leadership of the party.

The delegation led by the party President Gilgit-Baltistan  Syed Mehdi Shah included Aftab Haider Advocate, Muhammad Ali Akhter, Wazir Baig, Sheikh Nisar Hussain, Shakil Ahmad, Wazir Hassan, Syed Muhammad Ali Shah Rizvi, Hamid Khan, Muhammad Naseer, Ali Madad Sher, Muhammad Jaffer, Muhammad Ismail Engineer and Ayub Shah.  Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Labour, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Ms. Rukhsana Bangash, MNA, Ms Fouzia Habib, MNA and Spokesperson to the President former Senator Farhatullah Babar were also present.

Posted in Election2009, Government, Political Parties | Leave a Comment »

Mehdi for promotion of peace, education and health

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on November 22, 2009

GT Report

Islamabad, Nov 22: President  PPP Gilgit-Baltistan chapter and a for-runner for the position of the first ever Chief Minister of the region Sayed Mehdi Shah has said promotion of peace, education, and health and poverty alleviation would be priorities of his government and vowed to utilize all its energies for the betterment of the area and its people.

“I am determined to take steps for promotion of mining sector, create investment friendly atmosphere and eradicate poverty from the area so that people could live a prosperous and decent life,” state owned news agency APP quoted him as saying.

He said his party has won the election on the basis of its performance and services delivered by the party leadership including the introduction of Self-governance Order-2009, and economic package for the welfare of the people.

“PPP had also won eight seats in 2004 elections and PML-Q secured only five seats and PPP was not allowed to form a government and PML-Q which was in power at the federal level formed its government in GB with minority seats” he said.

He said prior to the elections, he toured seven districts as President of the PPP where the people warmly welcomed him and added PPP has won 12 seats and enjoys majority with a position to form its government in the GB. “However, PPP would take along its partners and other political parties for the promotion of peace, harmony and development in the area” he added.

Responding to a query he said the elections were held in a free, fair and transparent manner and rigging charges are baseless. He said people of the area could be better served through investment in social and infrastructure sectors with ultimate purpose of creating job opportunities and raising their living standard.

He accused the MQM for creating law and order situation in his constituency during the polling process.

He said efforts would also be made for the promotion of tourism sector and in this regard he particularly mentioned announcement made by Prime Minister for awarding international standard to airports at Gilgit and Skardu. “The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly is likely to hold its first session after Eid ul Azha to complete the entire process including election of Chief Minister, Speaker and Deputy Speaker” he added.

Posted in Election2009, Government | Leave a Comment »

GBLA likely to hold first session after Eid: Kaira

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on November 21, 2009

By Our Reporter

Rawalpindi, November 21: Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira has said the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly is likely to hold its first session after Eid ul Azha.

Speaking at a reception held in honor of the elected members of the GB Legislative Assembly Mr. Kaira, said it was the credit of the PPP to introduce Gilgit-Baltistan Self-governance Reforms Package-2009, which was another step towards political and socio-economic development of the area. He said although the election process has been completed, but the election on the reserved seats for women and technocrats was yet to take place. “The government formation would start once this process is completed” he added.

Rawalpindi: Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira in a group photograph with the members elect of GBLA during a breakfast hosted by MD Pakistan Baitul Maal Zamrud Khan

He recalled that Benazir Bhutto visited the residence of Zamurd Khan on November 30, 2007 and offered special prayers for the departed soul and said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has always strived to serve the people across the country and the people of GBLA have a lot of expectations from the PPP. Mr. Kaira said the results of GB elections have once again proved that the PPP is the political force of the country and it enjoys support of the masses. He said that whenever free and fair elections would be held in any part of the country, the PPP would return victorious.

The minister said PPP has given lot of sacrifices for democracy and it would not give anyone any excuse to derail the system. He said that victory in the Gilgit-Baltistan elections was an achievement, but coming up to the expectations of the people of the area was the bigger challenge ahead. Mr. Kaira congratulated all the elected members and urged them to resolve the problems being faced by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan on priority.

Recounting the services of the PPP leadership for the people of the area, he said it was the government of Shaheed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto which brought far-reaching reforms in the area.  He further said that during Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s second term as Prime Minister, Northern Areas Legal Framework Order was introduced.

The reception was hosted by Managing Director, Bait-ul-Mal, Zamurd Khan here at his residence. It was also attended by Mehdi Shah, the nominated Chief Minister of the GBLA.

Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan, Government | Leave a Comment »

Mehdi set to become GB’s first chief minister

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on November 20, 2009

Islamabad, November 20: Syed Mehdi Shah, chief of the Gilgit-Baltistan chapter of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is set to become the first chief minister of the region after his nomination as the party’s parliamentary leader in the Legislative Assembly here on Thursday.

Islamabad: PPP information secretary Fauzia Wahab addresses a news conference. Syed Mehdi Shah, chief of the Gilgit-Baltistan chapter of PPP is also present.

Mehdi Shah was nominated parliamentary leader at a meeting of the members-elect of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.

The decision was announced by PPP information secretary Fauzia Wahab at a news conference.

The PPP won 11 out of 23 seats for which polling was held on Nov 12. Later, an independent member-elect, Abdul Hameed Khan, joined the party.

Mehdi Shah said the PPP was engaged in negotiations with other parties and independents for forming the government.

He said although the PPP was in a position to form government on its own, the party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari had directed them to form a coalition government.

He said the party would call for appointment of a local figure as the governor. He was of the view that the governor should preferably be from the PPP.

However, he said, any decision of the party co-chairman would be acceptable to him and his colleagues.

APP adds: Acting Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira hosted a reception for the PPP members-elect of the legislative assembly on Wednesday night.

Speaking at the reception, Mr Kaira said the PPP had given a lot of sacrifices for democracy and it would not give anyone any excuse to derail the system.

He said the co-chairman had the party’s leaders and workers to remain cool despite a vilification campaign launched by opponents.

Mr Kaira said victory in the elections was an achievement, but coming up to the expectations of the people of the area was a bigger challenge. He said the PPP had a history of serving the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and it had made efforts for providing them political rights.

He said the PPP had introduced the Gilgit-Baltistan self-governance reform package which was another step towards political and socio-economic development of the area.

Mehdi Shah vowed to take steps for eradicating poverty from the region and to implement the Self-Rule Ordinance.

He said the people of the region could be better served through investment in the social and infrastructure sectors with the ultimate purpose of creating job opportunities and raising the living standard of the poor.

The members-elect pledged to work jointly for promotion of peace and sectarian harmony and for socio-economic prosperity of the region and welfare of its people.-Dawn

Posted in Election2009, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government | Leave a Comment »