ISLAMABAD - The Federal Cabinet on Saturday unanimously approved the new Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Ordinance 2009 to give full internal and political autonomy to the Northern Areas. Giving briefing on the Cabinet meeting to the media, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that the present democratic government decided to take the Northern Areas further towards full internal autonomy and in this regard he had constituted a highly powered committee under the chairmanship of federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas (KANA) to prepare a reforms package for the purpose. After taking all the stakeholders into confidence the draft was presented in the Federal Cabinet, which was unanimously adopted. The Prime Minister told the newsmen that the new name of the Northern Areas would be Gilgit-Baltistan. He said there would be a Governor for Gilgit-Baltistan who would be appointed by the President of Pakistan. He said till the election of the Legislative Assembly, Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas would act as Governor. There would be a Chief Minister who shall be elected by Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and would be assisted by six ministers with provision of two advisors. The Prime Minister said that Legislative Assembly would have 24 members who would be elected through direct elections. In addition, there would be six women and three technocrat seats. Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that todays decision would empower the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly to do legislation. He said in order to empower the Council and the Assembly on financial matters; there would be a consolidated fund. He said budget of the area would be presented and approved by the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly. The Prime Minister said the Chief Judge of the Appellate Court would be appointed by the Chairman of the Council on the advice of the Governor, and other judges would be appointed by Chairman on the advice of the Governor after seeking views of the chief Judge. He said that number of judges would be increased from three to five. The Prime Minister said Gilgit-Baltistan Public Service Commission was to be established to further empower the people of the area. He said that separate Auditor General and Election Commissioner would be appointed. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilnai has said that his government has fulfilled its commitment by empowering the people of Northern Areas (NAs) with the unanimous approval of Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009. He was talking to a delegation comprising members of Northern Areas Council and notables of the area, which called on him at the PM Secretariat. The Prime Minister said that elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly would be held on schedule under the new Governance Order 2009. He hoped that the Council members would play their role in strengthening democratic institutions and new administrative set-up, adding that the decision would greatly contribute towards the welfare of the masses. The Prime Minister congratulated the members of the delegation on behalf of the federal cabinet and whole nation on this historic occasion. The delegation members invited the Prime Minister to visit Gilgit-Baltistan. The Prime Minister said that he would soon visit the area to personally felicitate the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and announce a comprehensive package for these areas. Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for KANA Qamar Zaman Kaira termed the decision a great achievement. He thanked the Prime Minister and his cabinet on behalf of the people of NAs. The delegation on behalf of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan thanked the Prime Minister and the cabinet for the historic decision. They also appreciated the personal efforts of Federal Minister for KANA, Qamar Zaman Kaira, in this regard.