Gilgit-Baltistan: Legal Status, Modi’s Boasting and CPEC

Gilgit-Baltistan: Legal Status, Modi’s Boasting and CPEC

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Justice (r) Muzaffar Ali

Few days ago, on the occasion of Indian Independence Day, the Prime minister of India raised a voice about Gilgit Baltistan with a false statement that the people from Gilgit Baltistan approached him and appreciated his support extended against their atrocities by the government of Pakistan. The statement made by Modi is totally deceitful. The people of Gilgit Baltistan are loyal to Pakistan despite their grievances and demands regarding their constitutional status. The demand is for being the constitutional part of Pakistan and nobody from Gilgit Baltistan can even imagine otherwise as the elders of the region, with their indigenous armed struggle, liberated their motherland in the year 1947 and willfully invited the newly born Pakistan to extend its sovereignty, hence the statement of Modi is nothing but a scuttlebutt.

Though, the statement by Modi is whimsical but even then it cannot be ignored or over looked in the light of “Pakistan China Economic Corridor” which is going to be acted upon, through Gilgit Baltistan as gateway down to the Gwadar port. The voice louden by Modi apparently having no legs to stand but after all it is a statement of premier of enemy country and has been raised in a particular occasion, when Indian government has officially objected to pass the “CPEC” scheme across Gilgit Baltistan for its disputed status. So my loyalty, in the instant situation, compelled me to write down as the same is not political one but it requires a careful thinking and suggestions for solicitude of sovereign authorities in Pakistan with the background as under:

Gilgit Baltistan is having territory of 27000 sq. miles and is located towards extreme north of Pakistan. It is bounded with China from northeast and touches Afghanistan from its northwest. From southeast side, Gilgit Baltistan links held Kashmir. It is proper to mention here that, the mighty Indus River has its course in territory of Gilgit Baltistan. The entire population of Gilgit Baltistan is Muslim. Gilgit Baltistan is surrounded by lofty mountains and many high peaks like K2, Nanga Parbat and Raka Poshi etc., as such its geographical difficulties prevented exercise of any effective control by any outsider suzerain and local chieftains (Rajas) ruled Gilgit Baltistan for times immemorial. Gilgit Baltistan came under Indian influence in the year 1842 AD, when Sikhs conquered the area after waging bloody battles against local Rajas later on Sikhs were bartered by Dogras in the year 1846 and the Dogra suzerainty always faced armed encounters by the local population under the command of Rajas but the Dogras succeeded to continue their statute over the region till the day of partition of India. The locals never accepted the sovereignty of Dogras throughout and waited for an apposite opportunity. The opportunity availed, when Indo Pak partition took place. The people waged an indigenous war against the tyrannical rule of Maharaja Kashmir and got liberation on 1st November 1947. After liberation the people constituted an independent state with a governing body headed by Raja Shah Rais Khan with the name of “Azad State of Gilgit and Baltistan”. The revolutionary government extended a formal invitation to the government of Pakistan to take over the sovereignty of the area. Resultantly, the government of Pakistan controlled the area in the mid of November 1947 but left its status disputed, attached the same with Kashmir issue, ruled the region through bureaucratic system with continuation of F.C.R (known as black law) imposed by the Dogra regime till mid-seventies. Thereafter, the government of Pakistan introduced administrative as well as judicial reforms without extending the constitution of Pakistan but the people of Gilgit Baltistan consistently demanding constitutional status from Pakistan and wanted to get rid of bureaucratic rule.

Indeed Kashmir issue is fragmentary agenda of partition and no one can refute its importance but Gilgit Baltistan having much importance for Pakistan. Keeping in view the cutting-edge situation let me say, for argument’s sake and God forbid, that, “what would be the consequences if no war was waged by the locals against the Dogra regime in the year 1947? Obviously the region would have been under the control of Indian government and no “CPEC” project could ever be dreamed by Pakistan and China. India would have been getting the benefit of land link to Afghanistan via Gilgit Baltistan. River Indus would have been originated from Indian held territory like other four rivers”. The India even today can frame intrigues to change the game.

The CPEC program is game turning and backbone for economic development of Pakistan and China as such ill-wisher forces including India have also shown their disagreement and have become united to defeat the CPEC project. Its failure is their aim so, the responsible quarters of Pakistan need to scrutinize minutely the veiled motives of the statement of Modi, vis- a- vis the policy to deal with the conspiracy, notwithstanding the statement is air fire to the extent that the loyalty of people of Gilgit Baltistan towards Pakistan is not questionable and no single person from Gilgit Baltistan would like to approach India or Modi.  My suggestions to meet the situation are as under:

  1. Constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan must be ascertained in accordance with the wishes of Gilgit Baltistan. The people of Gilgit Baltistan are demanding extension of the constitution of Pakistan and provincial status since their independence. Hence the issue must be considered and solved without any further delay.
  2. The present judicial system lacks concept of independent judiciary and bar associations in Gilgit Baltistan have demanded to lengthen the jurisdiction of the Supreme court of Pakistan and in my opinion this demand might be reached to, even without introducing any amendment into the constitution of Pakistan, just by introducing a simple amendment into the prevailing legal framework order in Gilgit Baltistan.
  3. That, it is incumbent upon the sovereign authorities of Pakistan to remove the confusions created among the people by various negative statements about the CPEC benefits and to make the people of Gilgit Baltistan believe that the region is first to get benefit of, some projects relevant to CPEC may be announced to install therein.

The contributor is a former judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit-Baltistan. He can be reached at muzaffaralibagoro266@gmail.com

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Pamir Times is the pioneering community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral and the surrounding mountain areas. It is a voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent venture initiated by the youth.