Gilgit - Baltistan

[Analytical Report] Delusions of autonomy for Gilgit – Baltisan

By Noor

The much awaited package of structural adjustment reforms was unveiled by the prime minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, after a cabinet meeting, today.

Despite of high claims of granting internal autonomy, a governor, to be appointed by the president, and the prime minister have been made the supreme authorities. The Gilgit – Baltistan Council would be chaired by the prime minister, who will not be elected by votes, direct or indirect, of the people of Gilgit – Baltistan, while an un-elected governor, to be appointed by the president, would act as vice – chairman of the council. This arrangement is being seen as a major ploy to control the elected representatives of Gilgit – Baltistan.

It is for the very first time, in history of the country, that a serving federal minister has been appointed governor of a political entity within Pakistan.

A new designation, called Chief Minister, has been created but the CM would not be authorized to form his cabinet. The governor would form a cabinet, albeit with “advise” of the chief minister. Also, the legislative assembly would not be able to elect the chief minister. He would be selected by the Gilgit – Baltistan Council.  This power mechanism  is also being seen as an explicit example of asserting real power players, in the future setup. It is being strongly felt that a powerful governor and a weak chief minister would overrun expectation of autonomy, at the grass roots, making the entire promise delusional and fraught with contradictions.

The Gilgit – Baltistan Legislative Assembly, not authorized to discuss a large number of vital issues related to governance of the region, would comprise of thirty three members. Twenty four out of these thirty three members would be elected directly from the districts, while six females and three technocrats would also be part of the assembly.

Some analysts are terming this a package for the region’s political elite, with no real benefit for the impoverished people of Gilgit – Baltistan. 

The creation of a separate election commission, increasing the number of judges of the Supreme Appellate Court from 3 to 5 and establishment of a separate public service commission, however, offer some promise for the region, which has now been formally named Gilgit – Baltistan. Nevertheless, these institutions will be of no real significance in the absence of broader rights and authorities of real decision making. 

Some quarters are seeing this move to rename a few positions in the region’s poltical setup and further complicate the heirarchies of democratic decision making, an attempt to divert attention from the issues raised over Diamer – Bhasha Dam, Bonji dam and other smaller dam projects that have been planned in the region.

Let’s remind the readers that Gilgit – Baltistan was a name suggested by the NALA, which has, now, been accepted by the federal cabinet. [updated]

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  1. Dear Noor
    Following corrections are to be made in the text you wrote.
    Kaira is to be governor till elections.
    governor, as in other provinces (example is of Mr Awais as governor of Baluchistan being a resident of NWFP) is appointed from federation. For GB Governor will be appointed by president and it is expected and pledged that S/he will be from GB (its just 3 months to discover).
    24 elected representatives 6 women and 3 technocrates. 15 members council (for lagislation), as senate in Pakistan and Kashmir Council in AJK. GB Counsel will be presided by PM.
    Chief Minister (as an autonomous head of the executives, as proclaimed) will be elected from the GBLA and 6 ministers and 2 advisors to be appointed by CM, yet to be confirmed.
    In my personal opinion, its now us, the people of GB to decide, How to take forward this so called constitutional Package, with no indemnity of Parliament and National Assembly.
    It now depends on the coming CM, who will actually steer the so called Package, if he is competent we can proceed other wise it will again be of no use.

  2. Agreed with all pionts raised by noor. As I watched todays tv strips in which government has tried to give an impression that “Gilgit- Baltistan has been gven autonomy……….. As drrafted pakage reveals … All the Powers will rest with the Governor… which NALA cannot choose..

    For me only positions has been re-named just to justify their mega projects (which will altimately benefit Pakistan) and now they will impose taxes in the Gilgit-Baltistan….

    We cannot say autonomy… unless Gilgit-Baltistan is not declared as the 6thh province.. in Pakistan Federation…..

  3. Dear Adil, thank you for correcting the apparent anomalies in this report. I agree that president of the republic will be the authority to appoint governors, as you have rightly mentioned. I have corrected the report to reflect accuracy. Thank you for pointing it out.

    The number of technocrates and women members is vague, at this moment. I tried to obtain a documented evidence of the minutes but couldn’t do so. Some news sources have quoted seven technocrats and seven female seats, while other have quoted lower numbers. Thing will be clearer after the ordinance is made available to the public, after president zaradari’s approval.

    About the president’s right to appoint governors in provinces, there can not be two opinions. However, since Gilgit – Baltistan is not becoming a province of Pakistan, but a separate political stakeholder in the state, I think there can not be any hard and fast rule about the president’s descretion to nominate a governor. Owais Ghani has been accepted in Pukhtoonkhawa because he is himself an ethnic Pukhtoon. I am not sure what would have been the reaction of NWFP, or Baluchistan, for that matter if a Pujabi/Sindhi had been appointed governor of these provinces.

    The president shall ensuer that governors and all of the 7 nominated members of the GB Council are permanent, generational residents of Gilgit – Baltistan. This avenue shall not be left open for the Marvi Memons and other “sympathizers” of our land. It is a daunting task that the mainstream parties shall press for.

    According to my information, governor is the appintment authority in terms of members of the cabinet. Let’s wait and see, as you have rightly said.

    I agree with you that complete autonomy, or utilization of this mutilated autonomy is responsiblity of the local populations. We wil have to use the power of information and reason to raise awareness level in the masses.


  4. i agree with sir saud. i dont have any deepth understanding of the political gmae. but at least we got a name proposed by our own people…….and by the way i was using this name since it was proposed by NALC……anyway good efforts by noor and adil bhai. keep it up. thank you

  5. This is a step towards the rights of autonomy of Gilgit-Baltistan. A positive development I can say. Kashmir ideology was a big hurdle in the way of this development. Now this package clears it that Gilgit-Baltistan is not an integral part of Kashmir. There was identification of our area, now we can say Gilgit-Baltistan. Today if have an independent assembly with Chief Minister and Governor it means in the near future it will definitely a province. Let us be positive and digest the food we have got…………………..

  6. We don’t need packages what we want is our basic right which every Pakistani has.
    Please ask these political criminals either we are Pakistani are not, if yes we have
    Right to vote for president and parliament. Otherwise we have to announce our own
    Identity. We have more options to emerge with anyone else.

    These Pakistani politicians are punishing us against the crime our ancestors did in
    1948, so it’s clear that these so called Pakistani politicians are Indian agents. I am not
    A politician am a normal person from this area. I feel ashamed, that we are the people
    Without an identity. This is my personal feeling, maybe I am wrong, if so please guide me.

    Sherali Hunzai

  7. @ Saud

    Why do you want to be the 6th Province of Pakistan when the people of Baluchistan do not want to be one?

  8. @ Adil Jaan..!!
    Governer from G-B..!!!
    How could it be possible..???
    Governer is person who’e appointed by da president of a state and da governer uses da Authority tranfered by da president. Now, da logical thing is, that presidnt gets his powers from National Assembly and National Assmbly is bound to follow what ever da Constitution say’s or transfers.. So, from Constitution to da Governer there’s a chain of command, so a person whom the Constutution Denies,a person Who’s Out of Da Constitution’s Jurisdiction Can Be Da Governer..????? So to Be A Governer, U Need to Be The Citizen(da legal one) of dat state, so governer will be A Pathan, Punjabi, Saindhi or Balochi, all other claims are fake. So, plz bros, accept this fact that this package is not more than a Tool to Strengthen their Occupation so that they could build illegal dams, they could impliment taxes on poor people of G-B. We Reject Thi Damn Drama Package.

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