Prime Minister Imran Khan has revealed the federal government’s plans to boost the economy and other industries of the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said, in the oath-taking ceremony of the Gilgit-Baltistan cabinet, that they had already shortlisted a couple of ideas to better the lives of the locals and the government has already formed a special committee in this regard.
The PM, speaking passionately about how the government aims to make the people of Gilgit-Baltistan feel more included, pointed out the fact that the best way to rule a region is self-governance. Someone sitting in Islamabad, the PM said, can not decide what is best for the people of GB.
The three projects that the government plans on starting in the region are focused on healthcare, tourism, and sustainable energy harvesting.
Plans on starting the Ehsaas Programme within the region have already been drawn up, according to the Prime Minister. This programme aims at relieving poverty and is possibly one of the biggest poverty-eradication programmes within the country. “Health cards, similar to the one distributed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, will be given to each household in the province,” said the PM. These health cards can then be used by families to get treatments from any hospital within the region (as long as the total cost of the treatments doesn’t exceed Rs 1 million). A 250-bed hospital is also under construction in Skardu, revealed the PM.
The tourism industry of the region, said the PM, does not need to be further marketed. “The region is so famous for its beauty and nature that it doesn’t even need to be marketed.”
“This year, not as many tourists visited the province because of the coronavirus situation but we will ensure that next year, all the losses are covered for.”
Skiing, a snow sport, can potentially be a part of the Gilgit-Baltistan tourism experience. The region has remarkable mountains and lots of snow in the winters. The PM disclosed that an Austrian company was interested in bringing the sport of skiing to GB. “Pakistan has a huge potential for skiing and once it comes here, it will bring along a lot of business and profit for us.”
Low-cost loans will also be given to small-time business owners to help them set up hotels and guest houses for tourists in the region.
Lastly, the PM talked about setting up six hydroelectric power plants within Gilgit-Baltistan to solve the electricity issues faced by the region. “Two of these units are under-construction, two are in the pipeline, and the approval for two more stations has been given.”
Micro-hydel stations will also be set up for small towns.
The Prime Minister plans of adding special economic zones within the region to further boost its economy. “These will come in the route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and will bring a lot of development here.”
The Prime Minister concluded his address by first talking about the Coronavirus SOPs being violated within the region, and then advising the people and the leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan to always stay steadfast on two things: honesty and trustworthiness.
“I have known Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif for over 40 years,” said the PM, “and I can see God’s wrath coming on them.”