Comprehensive package for the region; Political reforms to be introduced; Army Monitoring Agency to withdraw in 90 days
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  • The Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas, Qamaruz Zaman Kaira took oath as the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the ‘Northern Areas’ (Gilgit-Baltistan) in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) in Gilgit. Kaira pledged to introduce political reforms, improve the law and order situation in the region and asked the Army Monitoring Agency to wind up their task in the region within 90 days1. The Minister also announced a comprehensive package for the region and declared the formation of a Public Accounts Committee which would start functioning from July 2008 onwards2.

    In a related development, there was a high-level meeting between the Federal Government and the official of the ‘Northern Areas’ in Islamabad on April 24. The meeting was reportedly called to review the impact of the proposed construction of Bhasha Dam on the archaeological assets in the surrounding area3. Incidentally, China had shown a great deal of interest in building the dam which would be completed in seven years and which would cost approximately $8.5 billion4.

    Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the so called ‘Azad Kashmir’ (Mirpur-Muzaffarabad), Shah Ghulam Qadir expressed a desire to settle the Kashmir issue unanimously after taking into account the people’s views from all walks of life cutting across political spectrum5.