ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced a development package of Rs 370 billion for Gilgit-Baltistan to help its youth through skill development initiatives and transform the region into a top tourism destination.
Khan visited the region's capital Gilgit along with cabinet ministers and addressed a gathering attended by lawmakers of Gilgit-Baltistan and supporters of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party to unveil the package.
"We are announcing a package of Rs 370 billion for Gilgit-Baltistan to be reimbursed over the next five years," he said.
Khan said the investment in tourism could transform the region of Gilgit-Baltistan as it was twice the size of Switzerland and more beautiful than the small European country known as a haven for tourists.
"By developing infrastructure for tourism, Gilgit-Baltistan would not only become rich but would be in a position to support the rest of the country instead of looking towards Islamabad for help," he said.
Khan said Gilgit-Baltistan was the best place for food processing factories and hydropower projects, promising to invest in these sectors.
He said the package will also focus on skill development and scholarships for the region's youth.
He said the government would build facilities to start operations of international flights to the region.
Khan visited the region last year during the election campaign for its legislative assembly and had promised to give the status of provisional province to the region and initiate development.
His party won the polls and is now ruling the region.
India has previously slammed Pakistan for its attempt to accord provincial status to the "so-called" Gilgit-Baltistan, saying it is intended to camouflage the "illegal" occupation of the region by Islamabad.
Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava had said India "firmly rejects" the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad's "illegal and forcible occupation" and asked the neighbouring country to immediately vacate such areas.