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Gilgit Baltistan

PML-N issues white paper on ‘rigging’ in G-B polls

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ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday issued a white paper on the alleged rigging in the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Legislative Assembly polls and warned the incumbent regime of “dire consequences” if “such practice” was adopted in the Azad Kashmir polls.

“A ‘selected’ government has been imposed through undemocratic means in Gilgit-Baltistan,” PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said while addressing a news conference in the federal capital.

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He was flanked by other party leaders including Khurram Dastgir, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman and Marriyum Aurangzeb.

Ahsan said he had repeatedly warned that G-B strategically and politically was a “sensitive” region and that it was absolutely crucial to hold “free and fair elections” according to the wishes of the people there.

He alleged that every code of conduct marked by the election commission was violated during the G-B polls as the premier and the ministers visited the region, which he said was against the law.

“Yet, the PTI could not even get simple majority and had to ‘beg’ the independents to join them to make the government. The long-term results of this could be devastating for the country,” he said.

The PML-N leader warned the ruling party of resorting to “unfair means” during the elections in Azad Kashmir and maintained that the PML-N would guard the sanctity of the vote like “lions” at all the polling stations and will not let the mandate of the people get “robbed again”.

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G-B former chief minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman said that they were handing over the white paper to the PDM, which would now fight their case.

The PTI had emerged victorious on 10 seats in the G-B elections which were held in November last year. Seven seats were won by independent candidates while the JUI and MWM secured one seat each.

The PPP and PML-N — both of which had levelled allegations of rigging — held five and three seats, respectively.

PTI formed government in the region after the independent candidates joined the ruling party and seat adjustment with the MWM.

Khalid Khurshid Khan of the PTI was elected as chief minister of the G-B while PPP’s Amjad Hussain as leader of the opposition.

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Gilgit Baltistan

Army officer, wife among seven dead in Skardu river accident

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GILGIT:

Seven people, including an army aviation officer and his wife, lost their lives when their vehicle fell into Indus River in Kharmang area of Gilgit-Baltistan on Wednesday, officials said.

The tragic incident took place at Bongpadi on the Kargil Road in Kharmang area of ​​Skardu, the largest city of G-B, as a result of which seven members of the same family drowned in the river, the deputy commissioner Skardu told The Express Tribune.

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Army aviation officer Captain Hassan and his wife Dr Samina are among those who drowned in the river, he added.

The family was travelling from Olding to Skardu when driver of the van lost control and the van fell in Indus.

Also read: Six of a family perish as car plunges into ravine

On receiving information about the car falling into the river, a rescue team was dispatched immediately by the civil administration to search the bodies. They pulled out the bodies of three people from the river, while the search is underway for four others, including the army officer and his wife.

Sources told The Express Tribune that Captain Hassan got married only a week ago and was a resident of Skardu. Those who drowned include Sadiq Hussain, Rohullah, Batool, Yazdan and two-year-old Sania.

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Dr Samina was doing her specialisation in ENT (ear, nose, and throat) as the Gilgit-Baltistan region lacks ENT specialists.



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Gilgit Baltistan

Pakistan Army rescues Polish climber from K2

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RAWALPINDI:

Pakistan Army has airlifted an ailing Polish mountaineer from K2 base camp to Skardu, abruptly ending his expedition owing to a disease.

Waldemar Kowalewski’s ascent to the K2 summit was cut short after he complained about a hernia that developed during a load-carrying trip to advanced K2 base camp. He was a part of the biggest international SST K2 winter expedition.

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An Army Aviation helicopter evacuated the afflicted Polish climber from the world’s second-tallest mountain to Skardu, where he is being treated for hernia.

This is the second time that Kowalewski has attempted to ascent K2 — the worlds famed second-highest peak — in winter.

Sadly, both of his expeditions have ended early and abruptly due to injuries. In winter 2018-19, he was hit by a chunk of ice on his way to Camp-1.

Pakistan’s northern area is considered as an ideal destination for adventure tourists who throng to the country to scale its high-altitude peaks.

Every year foreign mountaineers visit Gilgit-Baltistan, also called the “mountaineers’ paradise”, as five of the world’s 8,000m-plus peaks are located in the region, including K-2. Unfortunately, several tragic incidents also occur to the expeditions during their missions.

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In February 2020, Pakistan Army rescued two foreign climbers trapped in the country’s eastern Karakoram mountain range in the Himalayas, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“Pakistan Army Aviation pilots rescued two foreign mountain climbers, Mr. Donald Allen Bowie (USA) and Ms. Lotta Henriikka Nakyva (Finland) from Broad Peak, Baltoro Glacier … part of an International Winter Expedition attempting to summit Broad Peak but stranded en route due to sickness,”, said the military’s media wing.

In 2019, two British mountaineers trapped near the Koyo Zom peak in the Chitral district were retrieved by the army.

In 2018, French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol was rescued from Nanga Parbat, after getting trapped there while trying to summit the peak.



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‘Efforts afoot’ to set up SEZ in G-B

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Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur on Saturday said the federal government had acquired land for setting up a special economic zone in G-B under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

“Efforts are afoot to start development work on the special economic zone,” Gandapur said while talking to a delegation of the G-B’s ministers, who called on him here to discuss the future strategy for carrying out uplift work in the area. The delegation comprised of multiple ministers of the G-B government – including Wildlife and Forest Minister Raja Muhammad Zakirya Khan, Excise and Taxation Minister Haji Shah Baig, Tourism Minister Raja Naseem, Food Minister Shams Lone, Local Government Minister Abdul Hameed, Health Minister Gulbar Khan, and others.During the meeting, the federal minister called for extensive efforts to fulfill the huge mandate, given by the people of G-B to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the recent elections.

In the G-B elections, held in November 2020, the PTI bagged 22 of 33 seats of the G-B Assembly, according to the region’s election commission. In the elections, the PTI emerged victorious on 10 seats, while seven were won by independent candidates. The JUI and Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) won one seat apiece.

Six of the independent candidates have joined PTI after the election and the party already had a seat adjustment arrangement with the MWM.Gandapur stressed that both the federal and G-B governments would follow an all-inclusive strategy to achieve sustainable development in the area. He said that more focus would be given to major sectors – including education, tourism, health, and hydel power. It would eventually, lay the foundation for a prosperous G-B, he added.The minister claimed that the federal government had provided massive funds for the G-B development in the past and had a plan to invest billions of rupees in its various sectors, including health, education, and tourism for their uplift.

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Moreover, he said the move would result in bringing “revolutionary changes” in those sectors, and to create massive job opportunities in the area.On the occasion, GB ministers gave a detailed briefing to Gandapur on their ministries concerned. They expressed the resolve for improving their ministries’ performance through collaboration. It was highlighted that such an approach would not only help provide basic amenities to the people of GB but also ensure transforming the area into an economic hub of the country.Gandapur assured the ministers of full cooperation of his ministry and the federal government for the purpose. Muhammad Atif, a social worker from Diamer, made the announcement for formally joining the PTI on the occasion. 

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