Pak approves self-governance for Northern Areas
Last Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2009, 00:16
Islamabad: In a move with far-reaching implications, the Pakistan government today approved a self-governance and reforms package for the Northern Areas, renaming it as "Gilgit-Baltistan", part of Jammu and Kashmir currently under Islamabad's occupation.

The strategically located Northern Areas, which borders the North West Frontier Province to the west, Afghanistan and China to the north and Jammu and Kashmir to the east, will have rights akin to those of Pakistan's four provinces, said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The "Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009", unveiled by Gilani at a news conference, is also aimed at giving the Northern Areas "full internal autonomy" and changing the region's name to Gilgit-Baltistan.

The order will come into effect after President Asif Ali Zardari formally ratifies it by issuing an official notification.

Federal Minister Farooq Sattar told reporters separately that elections will be held in the Northern Areas in the next three months to install a government like the one in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Sattar also said a cabinet committee will be constituted to "remove hurdles for merging Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan in accordance with the resolutions of the UN".

India says that the Northern Areas are part of its territory as they were part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, August 30, 2009, 00:16

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