Leaders of various political parties, journalists and members of think tanks participated in a day long round – table conference organized by the All Parties National Alliance (APNA) at National Press Club, Islamabad.
The conference had been called to discuss ‘the status of disputed GB territory in context of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the backdrop of the recently announced presidential order that promised province – like status for the region’.
The Kashmiri leaders opined that ‘strong, historical, links existed between the people of GB and Kashmir’. Most of the Kashmir leaders repeated their claims over Gilgit – Baltistan’s territory, based on different treaties singed by the Maharaja of Kashmir, who had forcefully occupied the region that is, now, known as Gilgit – Baltistan.
What was surprising during the conference was that the usually fiery, anti – Kashmiri, guns of the nationalist parties of Gilgit – Baltistan either silently agreed with the Kashmiri leaders or were making speeches lacking any depth and arguments. According to some reports many of the nationalist leaders are roaming in different parts of the world, on money sponsored by Kashmiri leaders and industrialists.
The leader of KNM, Umar Farooq, instead of focusing on the theme read out his party manifesto. Amir of Jamat – e – Islami, Mushtaq Advocate, said that prior to the 1970s, people of GB considered themselves as Kashmiris. He said that a breed of nationalists was created during the seventies by the Pakistan establishment to fulfill their vested interests. Surprisingly, no nationalists defended their position in the face of this allegation.
The only exception was vocal civil society activist, Ali Ahmed Jan, who challenged the claims of ‘cordial relations’ between people of Kashmir and Gilgit – Baltistan.
Aman Ullah Khan of Balor Labor Party said that empire building is in process at the movement, under the new world order, and Gilgit – Baltistan, lying at the nexus of nuclear and economic powers, is being used as a playing field.
Sultan Madad told the conference about plight of the victims of landslide disaster in Attabad Hunza, besides talking about the topic at hand.
The conference resolved that India and Pakistan shall remove their armies from all three units o the former state of Kashmir, including Gilgit – Baltistan. They also condemned the ‘criminal negligence’ of the government of Pakistan regarding risk mitigation at Attabad Hunza and demanded all out support for the victims. The conference also resolved that Gilgit – Baltistan, shall be given an AJK like government, instead of a provincial setup.
Prominent among the speakers were former president of AJK, Maj. Gen (r) Anwar, JI leader Rasheed Turabi, Professor Khalique Mark, Justice (r) Majeed Malik, Engineer Aman Ullah Khan of the Bolor Labor Party, Mushtaq Advocate (JI – GB), Ali Ahmed Jan, Sultan Madad, col (r) Nadir Hasan Mirza, Sardar Sagheer Shah, Afsar Jan Watanyar, Shahid Hussain Advocate (BNF), Adovocate Umar Farooq (KNM), Mamtaz Nagri, Safdar Ali and Burhan Ullah. The session was conducted by Arif Shahid and chaired by Col (r) Wajahat Hasan Mirza.