ISLAMABAD, Aug 29 (KUNA) -- In a landmark decision, the Pakistani government on Saturday granted full autonomy to the northern areas of Pakistan, along Afghan border, ending their empowerment and self-government struggle since independence in 1947.
Prime Minister Syed Raza Gilani announced at a press conference after a cabinet meeting that the Northern Areas of Pakistan have been granted full autonomy. Though, still not being given the status of a province, the Premier announced Northern Areas to be renamed as Gilgit-Baltistan. He said the region would have its own assembly, separate election commission and auditor general.
Beside, the Prime Minster said that Gilgit-Baltistan would have a governor and a chief minister, who will be assisted by six ministers.
This was a major decision taken by the government for the first time since independence for the region, which is not designated as a fully integral part of Pakistan by the constitution.
It may be mentioned here that Gilgit Baltistan is internationally contested by Pakistan, India and the native inhabitants of Gilgit Baltistan as well.
Its inhabitants never had any representation in the parliament but the federal government has one non-elected minister representing the region. Hence, the Northern Areas had no political representation and no status under Pakistan's constitution. (end) KUNA 291413 Aug 09NNNN