LoC crossfire victims to get Rs350m package | The Express Tribune

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ISLAMABAD:

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) was held on Friday at Parliament House, where officials said that a relief package of Rs350 million will be given to the Line of Control (LoC) crossfire victims.

Legislation in this regard will also be enacted soon, the meeting was told. The meeting was chaired by Senator Sajid Mir and was attended by Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Falak Naz, Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui, Senator Muhammad Qasim, Senator Shahadat Awan, and senior officers of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and GB, Government of GB and the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

The agenda before the committee was Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) budget’s utilisation from January 1 to June 30, and the implementation status of various issues taken up in previous meetings.

Officials told the meeting that Rs10,000 will be provided for persons above 18 years of age, and free education for children under the LoC package. Selected training and interest-free loans are also part of the package, they added.

The committee also discussed the status of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) in G-B; especially with reference to the latest GLOF incident in Skardu and measures taken by the government to mitigate the effects of these episodes.

Appreciating the timely steps taken on the eruption of the lake, Minister for Climate Change Sherry said that fortunately no casualties were reported in G-B. She also lauded the chief secretary for doing a good job.

She also stressed the need for the government to step up measures to deal with this issue head-on.
She asked Advisor to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and G-B Qamar Zaman Kaira to prepare a PC1 for this issue so that the Ministry of Climate Change may ask international bodies for funds.

The committee was informed about the PSDP budgetary utilisation by the government of G-B during the past six months – January 1 to June 30.

Kaira was of the view that even if 25 percent for a certain project is unavailable, new projects must not be started.

While reviewing the implementation status of various recommendations made in previous meetings by the committee, it was asserted that affordability by the government is essential for any project that may be recommended by the committee.

The federal government may take on the project; yet in stringent times such as these with raging high-level inflation, it is essential that feasibility for every project is carried out, it was added.

Additional Chief Secretary Azad Kashmir Fayyaz Ali Abbasi and officials of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs gave a briefing on the Islamabad-Muzaffarabad Helicopter Service and relief package for the victims on the Line of Control (LoC).

He said that soon the federal government is going to start helicopter service, and in this regard, talks have been held with the aviation division. In the first phase, it has been agreed to operate small planes, with private sector undertaking the project, he added. He further said that the government does not have the money to subsidise this scheme.

Earlier, the meeting commenced with a discussion on the latest situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJK), especially with regard to the sentencing of Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik. The committee expressed concern over the government’s lax attitude towards the issue and stressed the need for a concrete plan to address the issue internationally.

Committee Chairman Sajid Mir said that Malik is a freedom fighter and a resolution should be passed on the issue of his punishment.

Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that this is a national issue beyond politics. There is a long story of aggression and it is a political issue, he added.

“Kashmiri leaders have sacrificed their lives. Both inside Pakistan and outside, there is no forum where this issue has not been raised,” the senator said, adding that delegations should be sent abroad in this regard.

(With additional input from APP)

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