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G-B versus K-P: Boundary dispute gushes towards Diamer-Bhasha Dam

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PESHAWAR:The longstanding conflict between Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) over a strip of land lingers on, with the G-B Assembly recently passing a unanimous resolution against the K-P government for allegedly encroaching upon a proposed dam site.

HunzaNews  March 20th, 2014.

Meanwhile, the K-P government hopes the centre will be able to resolve the row as the 40-day ceasefire agreed upon by the warring sides in G-B and Kohistan on March 1 looms closer.

Ministry of Kashmir and G-B Affairs Secretary Shahidullah Baig told The Express Tribune the prime minister is likely to approve the ministry’s summary for the formation of a three-member commission, which would include the minister for Kashmir and G-B affairs, minister for information and minister for water and power. Baig said both K-P and G-B’s claims on the land will be discussed by the commission which will prepare its recommendations in six months. The commission has recommended that it can only sort out the dispute with the consent of the law and justice ministry and will thus also comprise retired judges from other provinces except K-P to keep neutrality. It will then furnish its recommendations to the law department for a permanent settlement of the row, added Baig.

Meanwhile, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker from Kohistan, Abdul Sattar Khan, told The Express Tribune the jirga formed by the provincial government has yet to hold a meeting for a peaceful settlement of the issue.

“The jirga was formed by K-P Senior Minister Sirajul Haq and is supposed to submit a report to the K-P government,” he said, adding if no practical step is taken by the government a massive conflict could be triggered, which would make the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam controversial. The jirga comprises the K-P home secretary, Hazara DIG and MPAs from Kohistan.

The nearly 10-kilometre stretch of land on both sides of the Basari check post, which separates Kohistan from G-B, has long been a bone of contention between Thor Valley in Diamer and Harban Nala in Kohistan. The disputed land is among the areas being demarcated for acquisition for the much-awaited dam.

Responding to a query, the MPA from Kohistan said a specific group in G-B was pitting Chief Minister Mehdi Shah against the K-P government to stir up a controversy over the dam. “The local tribes have no problems with each other and the G-B government needs to know the ground realities and avoid stirring up the issue,” he added.

He further said the people of Kohistan will only accept the boundary commission’s decision if the K-P government pleads their case effectively. “Neither the jirga nor the provincial government has held any meeting for preparing their case for the federal government,” he said.

Haq, who is the chairman of the jirga, told The Express Tribune the main aim of the jirga was to hear both the warring sides, saying, “It is not good that people from both sides have strained relations as both are our brothers”.

“This problem is of a national level which is why it is the responsibility of the federal government to solve it,” he added. Responding to a query, Haq said the jirga has done its job by assessing losses that resulted from the clashes and condemned the G-B government’s resolution.

The minister lamented that the federal government was yet to take measures for a lasting solution to the dispute.

Express Tribune

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