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Opposition leaders in Gilgit City of Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan (PoGB) this week organised a press conference raising their concerns over the wrongdoings of the ruling party and the matter of leasing guest houses and forest lands to private entities in PoGB, a local news outlet reported.

Raja Zakaria Maqpoon while raising the issue of leasing governmental forest land and rest houses in PoGB said that “the national park and the wildlife comes under the jurisdiction of the local administration and has no intervention of the Pakistani administration. I myself, have produced profits PKR 30 to PKR 40 cores from this department and have distributed them amongst the people. Hence, the wildlife and the forests are a profitable opportunity. However, the ruling party has not convinced us that the leasing of these lands will be profitable”.

Maqpoon further stated that “the administration must get rid of its shady policies. Like in the budgetary session, neither the governor nor the CM has been participating in these sessions, and if the members of your government are not available in the meetings then it is better that you not apply any such deals to PoGB”.

Another PoGB opposition leader Javed Ali Manwa stated during the conference that “The assembly is not just the ruling government, it combines both opposition and the ruling party. The ruling party had called the pre-budget session which generally takes four days. But this time they did not complete the agenda before closing the session indefinitely. This is not the way, and the government cannot rule by their own will there are rules and regulations regarding that. They are not ready to hear the voices of the opposition and the public. And many important topics still remain un-attended”.

While raising the issue of land leasing to the Green Tourism Company the same opposition leader stated “This is one of the major issues in PoGB, in the last 10 years there are certain sensitive matters. Be it the issue of wheat and flour and be it the matter of land, the government has to take the opposition and public in confidence before making any decision. But despite all our attempts, they have not discussed the matter properly in the PoGB assembly.

According to the local PoGB news report the opposition demanded a strict investigation into the matter.

He further added “They have been dodging the questions. For at least the last 10 days they were proudly owning their decision the leasing decision. But they are now totally taking back their statements. They don’t even have their conceptual clarity on their own decision. One representative of the government called it a ‘Joint Venture’, another spokesperson called it a ‘Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) agenda-based project’, another spokesperson called it a ‘Government to Government (G2G) agreement’ and when we see actual papers, they point out that the business entity is a private ‘Green Tourism Company’. But the way they have assessed the costs of these guest houses, the way they have calculated the cost of these lands and the way they have formed these contracts within moments is shady. It would have been a better thing if this was done based on the laws”.