Gilgit - BaltistanPakistanPolitics

Constitutional drawbacks

by Tariq Hasan

In addition to tribal areas there are other constitutionally disadvantaged territories in Pakistan. These comprise the Northern Areas comprising the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan district of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar, which are not even mentioned in the Pakistan Constitution. These territories do not have their own constitution like the state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which although an integral part of the country, is also not mentioned in the Pakistan Constitution. Furthermore, unlike Federally Administered Tribal Areas or Provincially Administered Tribal Areas these territories are not even autonomous or semi-autonomous. But like the tribal areas, most of these territories are under the administrative control of Pakistan.

Northern Areas are administered by Pakistan under the Northern Areas Council Legal Framework Order, 1994 (LFO) and are for this reason also referred to as the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA). No government in Pakistan to date has ever taken any meaningful steps to address the wider issues of constitutional disregard and political deprivation of the Northern Areas.

This lingering neglect has evoked judicial intervention at the highest level. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a landmark case entitled Al-Jehad Trust vs. Federation of Pakistan, held that the people of Northern Areas are citizens of Pakistan for all intents and purposes and like other citizens have the right to invoke any of the fundamental rights, and liable to pay taxes and other competently imposed levies. It further observed that these people are also entitled to participate in the governance of their area and to have an independent judiciary to enforce, inter alia, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Pakistan Constitution. The Supreme Court, therefore, directed the Federation of Pakistan to initiate appropriate administrative and legislative measures within a period of six months from May 28, 1999, to make necessary amendments in the Pakistan Constitution and relevant statutes, orders, rules, and notifications to ensure that the people of Northern Areas enjoy their fundamental rights to be governed through their chosen representatives and to have access to justice through an independent judiciary, inter alia, for enforcement of their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Pakistan Constitution.

Read complete at SOURCE

The writer, a former chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan, is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

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  1. This is a thought provoking article.The writer,Tariq Hassan has depicted the main issue of ‘recognition ‘of the people of Northern areas.He is absolutely right in saying that just using strategies of force and economic development will not bring peace in these areas but an integration of these areas into the body politics of Pakistan through a multi-faceted approach involving constitutional,legal,adminstrative,,political,economic and social reforms.Our political leaders should take the initiative and address this issue and preserve the rights of the people of Nothern Areas.

  2. thank you Mr. Tariq for adding such a valuable facts and showed us mirror again. its such a devastating situation that 60 years have past and our leaders and people can not up their voice against this deprivation. whenever any such step is taken, it is suppressed by creating religious or ethnic riots. i don’t blame any one expect the people of our region, who look for their small personal interest over regional interest. but hope never dies and one day we will get what we deserve. inshallah !!

  3. Dear PT
    Its sometime good to see such topics. It must and much better one to talk on and to get feedback on such topic.
    That why we are not Pakistani by law and still know as Pakistani when our soldiers are killed for the sack protecting the country where we do not have any right then why. Next we have all the
    But I not understand to talk about Mir or Pir this something which shows our fear. What ever he or she call her/himself it you what you go for.
    Must have topic, about the above topic, Why Wakhi is listed on the Red Book, what is the real situation of Education and knowledge in Hunza, not the possession of Degree.
    What think and where we are standing at


  4. Dear Tariq,
    Thanks for sympathy shown through an intellectual effort. We do hope it will be stimuli to open the eyes of the inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltitsan. The Apex court (Supreme Court of Pakistan) should take notice and take practical steps to ensure the delivery of the basic rights to the people of the area according to the charter of UN human rights declaration. It is also the first and foremost duty of the media and civil society institutions as well as responsible individuals to raise their voice to include the people of GB in the mainstream.

    Thanks and regards

    Sharif Khan

  5. While we should appreciate the Pakistani liberal media, rights activists, lawyers and politicians who time and again raise voice for the fundamental rights of the people of GB, it is also important to understand that the public in Pakistan and those who care for fundamental rights internationally are unaware of the real question of GB.

    Mr. Khan has tried to project the case of Northern Areas, which is nice, but at this juncture linking its arguments with ‘tribal areas’ and discussing Northern Areas between the lines, if not mischievous, might create an impression indirectly that probably the problems, challenges, issues, aspirations of the two areas and the people are the same; terrorism, extremism, control by taliban and hideout for Al-qaida etc.

    While these are challenges not far from GB, our fate is linked to the Kashmir problem for the last 60 or so years.

    We don’t want our fate to be linked to the tribal areas or NWFP for another 60 years???

  6. It is nice that the writer has raised the issue of violation of the fundamental rights of the People of Gilgit-Baltistan but such article do more harm than good to our cause as mentioned by Mr. Amin Beg.

    While the poeple of Gilgit-Baltistan have started realizing that their fundamental rights are being compromised it is pertinent to understand what level of integration we want with the state and people of Pakistan. It would not be a step in the right direction if the people of Gilgit-Baltistan demand to make their area the fifth federating unit and settle for the rights granted to the people and governments of the other four federating units of the country. It would be a grave mistake just to settle for that, for we know now what the people in Baluchistan are demanding (independence) and what the people of Sind and nwfp want (provincial autonomy).

  7. Dear readers

    Thanks for Tariq and PT teams for raising this hot issues about Gilgit Balthistan fundamental rights, which government of Pakistan did not gives us from last 61 years
    although we given many sacrifices for this country and using literary and leagel approaches for achieving these rights, unfortunately tell now we are suffering.

    Dear legislative members of NALA

    I strongly request to the all elected legislative members of NALA to kindly spear a few minutes from his personal interest for the common interests and raise these hot and important issues of Gilgit Balthistan fundamental rights in front of federal government representatives to solve this important issue on his first priority

    Ali aman

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