Friday, July 19, 2024

Concerns Raised Over Gilgit-Baltistan Land Leasing to Military Subsidiary

Immigration News

The Gilgit-Baltistan government has leased 37 rest houses and forest sites to Green Pakistan Tourism, a subsidiary of the Pakistani military. The properties, including 20 buildings owned by the Communication and Works Department, have been rented for Rs 7 lakh per month, while 17 properties spanning 450 acres from the Forest Department have been leased for Rs 1.35 lakh monthly.

This leasing has raised concerns over the valuation of public assets, with many feeling the terms undervalue the properties. Political leaders such as former Chief Minister Hafeez-ur-Rehman and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Abbas Mosvi have questioned the transparency of the process. Rights groups and social media influencers have expressed their dissatisfaction, threatening protests if the deal is not reviewed.

This situation is part of a broader pattern of the Pakistani military’s involvement in commercial activities, which include entities like the Fauji Foundation, Shaheen Foundation, Bahria Foundation, and Army Welfare Trust. Critics argue that the military’s economic ventures, which include corporate agriculture under the “Green Pakistan Initiative,” raise potential conflicts of interest and could undermine economic development and democratic governance.

The military has justified its land acquisitions as necessary for national security and boosting food production. However, opponents argue that more effective solutions could involve modernizing agriculture to benefit small farmers, rather than transferring productive lands to military-controlled entities.

The ongoing situation in Gilgit-Baltistan is not isolated. For example, the Okara Military Farms have seen long-standing disputes between farmers and the military over land use and revenue sharing. These tensions have sometimes resulted in violence.

As Pakistan faces economic challenges, the military’s role in the economy continues to be a topic of debate. Studies suggest that military-owned enterprises may underperform compared to civilian businesses. The current situation in Gilgit-Baltistan highlights the need for a balanced approach to managing public resources, ensuring transparency, and supporting democratic institutions.

For Pakistan to achieve sustainable development, it is crucial for all stakeholders, including politicians, civil society, media, and the judiciary, to work together to address these issues. Ensuring the supremacy of democratic institutions and focusing the military’s efforts on national defense rather than economic ventures is seen as a path forward for the country’s stability and growth.

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