Islamabad - A day after the top political and military leadership concurred to grant more administrative and financial autonomy to Gilgit-Baltistan while retaining GB Council as advisory body, opposition members of GB Assembly and a large number of stakeholders gathered outside the National Press Club on Sunday, brusquely refusing to accept the GB Order 2018, terming it another eyewash and a farce.

The GB Assembly opposition members including Nawaz Khan Naji and Raja Jahanzeb and other stakeholders, addressing the protest outside the NPC, announced to march on the Parliament House on Monday to lodge a strong protest against what they say another attempt to hoodwink the subjects, who have been deprived of constitutional and political rights for the last 70 decades.

They said that the much touted order was completely silent on the constitutional status of GB, which neither has a representation in Pakistan Parliament nor a complete autonomous status like that of  AJK.

Nawaz Naji, Raja Jahanzeb and others who talk to The Nation said that they were ready to accept the new order provided if it was converted into an Act of Parliament and given a constitutional cover.

However, GB Adviser for Information Shams Mir claimed that under the new order, almost all subjects, most of them were the prerogative of GB Council earlier including financial and administrative matters, have been devolved to GB Assembly while relegating the powers of GB Council to an advisory body. While rejecting the hue and cry of the opposition members and other stakeholders, he claimed that the federal cabinet and NSC had endorsed transfer of almost all powers to GB Assembly. Answering a question, he said that the Pakistan government could not give a blanket constitutional status to GB or representation in the Parliament owing to the Kashmir issue and some other international commitments. He, however, indicated that the new order has made it amply clear to formulate further changes with the passage of time.

He said that majority of the Sartaj Aziz-led committee recommendations have been incorporated in the order, which, according to him, will be made public after its final vetting. He said that GB Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeerur Rehan has a meeting with the prime minister on Monday before making the controversial document public.

GB Law Minister Orangzeb Khan claimed that Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951 has been extended to GB, under which the subjects will have access to the Supreme Court. He also said that the status of GB Appellate Court has been elevated to high court and the number of judges have been expanded to seven from five. He also claimed that under the new order, the area has been given a share in the National Finance Commission Award.

Raja Jahanzeb, who is the PTI member from GB, said that the new order was another robbery on the rights of the people of the disenfranchised area and added that if the authorities in Islamabad did not entertain their reservations, they will go to the public seeking their support to reject it at every fora.

Naji, who has been elected to GB Assembly as an independent and a staunch nationalist, demanded that the proposed order should be passed from the Parliament or any other highest forum, declaring it as an Act so that the GB Assembly could make changes in the new order according to the needs that may arise in the future. He said that such order was issued earlier as well only to be rolled back by successive governments.