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NAB judge to take office in G-B, Security challenges loom large on KH

26 August 2015 No Comment

 By Shabbir Mir in The Express Tribune,Aug 26, 2015
GILGIT: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved the appointment of a National Accountability Bureau judge for Gilgit-Baltistan. This has sent alarm bells ringing for those who have embezzled from the public exchequer, especially during the previous government in the region.

The establishment of NAB in the region was requested by G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman after he assumed public office to deal with the corruption cases that surfaced during the previous government.

“The office will be operational as soon as the judge takes charge,” an official privy to the development told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

The judge, who will be notified in a couple of days, will hear all those cases of corruption that were heard by judges in other courts, including district and session courts.

Strengthening bodies: According to insiders, a number of corruption and embezzlement cases have already been referred to NAB. However, the proceedings were taking place at snail’s pace.

Speaking to journalists in Gilgit earlier this week, the CM said NAB and the Federal Investigation Agency should be strengthened so that anti-corruption bodies work in a transparent manner and are not pressurised by any individual, party or group.

“We are politicians and it’s not our job to decide who is corrupt,” said Rahman. “On the other hand, it is the responsibility of investigation agencies.”

On the cards: The G-B government also plans to induct three more ministers in the cabinet. “A minister will be selected from Ghizer, Diamer and Skardu districts,” an official told The Express Tribune. “The chief minister has completed the paperwork that will be sent to the prime minister for approval.”

Action against health officials: The chief minister has vowed to ensure good governance. As a result, a series of decisions have been taken to streamline matters.

Recently, the health department has ordered freezing of the salaries of over 80 workers in Diamer district. The action against the employees was taken following their absence from duties and the failure to access records regarding their appointments.

“The relevant banks have also been informed about the decision,” District Health Officer Dr Issa Khan told The Express Tribune.
Security challenges loom large on Karakoram Highway
By Shabbir Mir in The Express Tribune,Aug 25, 2015
GILGIT: The region’s jugular vein – the Karakoram Highway – has in the recent past witnessed a spate of organised terror attacks. With the challenges surfacing once again, those who frequent the road quite often have an issue to confront.

In view of fresh threats and intelligence information, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government recently made it compulsory for transport companies to have private guards on board before setting foot on the highway. The road that connects China with the rest of the country through Gilgit-Baltistan, passes majorly through Kohistan district where terrorists clad in military outfits have attacked passenger buses in the past.

Transporters have reciprocated by manning buses with untrained security guards carrying outdated firearms. “There are security guards in buses but most of them aren’t trained to fire even a single bullet,” an insider from the transport companies told The Express Tribune on Monday. He said hardly any have enough cartridges to even resist armed militants for a bit.

Some of the transporters have gone a step ahead. They have bought security guard uniforms for their conductors who serve the dual purpose of fooling the administration and giving a false sense of security to the travellers.

“When the K-P police check buses for security arrangements at check posts in Kohistan, they allow them to go as they see uniformed men inside,” said a bus terminal official in Gilgit. Sources went on to say the bus owners even hire guns from dealers. “In reality these guns aren’t worth tuppence. If trained terrorists cross the path of these buses, only divine help can save the defenceless passengers.”

One of the most gruesome attacks in the recent past was when militants dressed in army uniforms, dragged 16 men out of the buses in Kohistan and shot them dead. The outlawed militant group Jundallah had claimed responsibility for the brutality.

Diamer Deputy Commissioner Usman Ahmad agreed the security situation is terrible. “I recently inspected three Islamabad bound Northern Areas Transport Corporation buses,” he told The Express Tribune. “Uniformed conductors were present who had never fired a round in life.” He said while most couldn’t shoot at designated targets, one of the guards did not have a single cartridge.http://tribune.com.pk/story/944107/dangerous-roads-security-challenges-loom-large-on-karakoram-highway/

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