Gilgit - BaltistanPakistanPolitics

[Opinion]Sad state of affairs

by Ashfaque Ali Khan

It is a sad state of affairs for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan where apparently everyone unrelated to the region is making a hue and cry about the political reforms issue, with exception of the people of these regions themselves. In a précis it ranges from Kashmiri leadership (both in IOK and AJK) to the detestable sacrament of Pakistan’s all opposition fraternities of politicising the issues raised by Governments even if they are valid. Irony of the matter is that the planned package itself is not being considered as ‘enough’ by people of the rocky region.

In order to better understand the validity of these assorted views and insecurities over the issue, firstly we should be looking back into the past. The last independent state of Gilgit-Batistan region which fell to the British rule of India was Hunza valley, which only happened in 1889 A.D.

There may not be any other reason behind affixing the fate of Gilgit-Baltistan with J&K by the British except the ease of governing this tough terrain . It is immensely exasperating for an ordinary person living in Gilgit-Baltistan that his or her identity has so much been mystified by those designating themselves as stakeholders of the region.

Another historical fact became very evident with the end of colonial rule too when the freedom fighters of the region successfully revolted against the then Dogra governor of region, Ghansara Singh, under the charismatic leadership of Col. Mirza Hasan Khan on 1st of November 1947 and to this date, the Independence Day is celebrated on November 1st every year in Gilgit-Baltistan. Seventy two thousand square miles of land were liberated by the poorly armed, poorly trained, semi – military organization called Gilgit Scouts.

No matter, even if the independence war ever fell prey to people seeking credits for their role, the fact cannot be negated that the people fought for “their land” and that was another reason behind not advancing further unnecessarily to join Kashmir’s freedom war which resulted in partial success.

The questions which every person of Gilgit-Baltistan is asking from the Kashmiri leadership and those opposing the action of present Government are:

1. Should the political and/or administrative conduct of the British and Dogras be the benchmark and a reason to justify the claim of Gilgit-Baltistan being the part of J&K?

2. How could possibly, the political reforms process in Gilgit-Baltistan region may affect the Kashmir issue where both have no connections at all from all perspectives ranging from ethnic origin, culture, tradition, societal norms and religious backgrounds in various districts of present Northern Areas?

3. Should people of the region remain happy with the name (i.e. Northern Areas) which was given by the United Nations and hence remain in confusion of what their identity is?

4. Should the political future of 2 million people remain clouded in myths and mysteries in the environment where they don’t know what their political status is and why they are not equal citizens of Pakistan’s other provinces?

5. Should these strong feelings, i.e. of being deprived of constitutional and legislative rights for last more than sixty years, be allowed to culminate in even more deleterious and belligerent nationalist movements which are presently being less heard by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan region?

6. Should, the lack of leadership at par with their ancestors due to lack of opportunities which has amassed with the passage of more than sixty years, be a reason to leave 2 million people unheard at this critical time for whom a tiny ray of hope has just started to shimmer?

7. How could someone expect contentment from those people who have at least one shaheed in their families after proudly battling for their country in almost all the wars and minor armed confrontations, by simply making NLI a regiment and providing subsidy on some food items?

It therefore is the unanimous demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan region that let their wishes and aspirations be victimised no more, for an issue which is not their own. The balance of power should now be devolved to the people through their elected representatives so that the process of intellectual, political and democratic evolution could kick off.

The contributor belongs to Hasanabad, Hunza. He is currently based in Karachi.

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  1. Kashmiri Leaders: How Dare you claim to be the heir-apparent of Governor Gansara Singh, who was kicked off by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in 1948??

    Tell the people now, where were you:

    1.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when Shin-Kohistan and Chitral was put under the administrative control of NWFP before 1948?

    2.Where were these Kashmiri leaders when in 1948, with assistance from the British officers in Gilgit the Gilgit-Baltistan freedom fighters defeated the Dogra forces ,kicked them from the area almost reaching close to Srinagar and unilaterally joined Pakistan?

    3.Where were these Kashmiri Leaders when Quaid-i-Azam, responding to the telegraph message by Mirs of Hunza and Nagar, and accepted Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Pakistan in 1948, and deployed Political Agent and officials in the area?

    4.Where were these Kashmir leaders, when Gen Ayub and Z.A. Bhutto settled the border with China and more then 2000 sq.kms. area of Hunza was ceded to China in 1962-63?

    5.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when Pakistan and China agreed to construct KKH through this area, and are currently widening it?

    6.Where were the Kashmiri Leaders, when Z.A. Bhutto demolished all the princely States (in Baltistan, Gilgit, Hunza, Punial, and political districts of Chilas and Darel/Tangir) and turned them into administrative districts and established a Northern Areas Advisory Council through promulgation of Northern Areas Government Order 1976?

    7.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when all major political parties of Pakistan opened their chapters in Gilgit-Baltistan; PPP, PML, JUI, JI, TJP, PWP and participate in local elections, where not a single Kashmiri political party has presence or a seat in the local assembly/council?

    8.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when Gen Zia declared Northern Areas as Zone-E along with the four provinces of Pakistan, and AJK was left out?

    9.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when, Benazir promulgated LFO 1994 and imposed a federal Minister of Pakistan as Chief Executive of Northern Areas?

    10.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when Islamabad was solely appointing commissioners, chief secretaries, Secretaries, IGPs, DCs, SSPs etc. in Gilgit-Baltistan?

    11.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when Gen Musharraf made NLI as a separate regiment of Pakistan army and awarded Lalik Jan Nishan-e-Haider?

    12.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when Pakistan allocated funds in PSDP to construct Diamer-Basha, Bunji, Skardu, dams? Did they consult you on these mega projects?

    13.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when NWFP has engulfed part of Diamer-Bahsha area and part of Shandur border Chitral? How many times they raised this issue with NWFP and Islamabad?

    14.Where were the Kashmiri leaders when the federal Minister was made Chairman, and the name of the deputy chief was changed to Chief Executive Northern Areas?

    15.How many times have the President, PM, political leaders and Ministers of AJK visited Gilgit-Baltistan during the last 60 years?

    16.How many seats are reserved for Gilgit-Baltistan in the AJK Assembly?

    17.How many Ministers and officials in the AJK government are from Gilgit-Baltistan?

    18.How many times, the AJK leaders offered the post of President, PM, Speaker and other key positions in AJK to Gilgit-Baltistan?

    19.How many Gilgit-Baltistan leaders are represented on the Hurriyat Conference or any Kashmiri political alliances in Pakistan or abroad?

    So , lets be clear. There is no link between AJK government and the Gilgit-Baltistan as far as political, legal, administrative and constitutional status of these areas are concerned. Both are unique and different with different goals and aspirations, mixing them together might lead to new forms of violence and instability;

    However, Yes, as Pakistan and India are having common heritage as both were part of the Indian history, and both share colonial past with the British and the larger common wealth, likewise, some parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and the Jammu and Kashmir have a shared heritage of living both under Mughul rule, Sikhs and Dogras Raj and later shared the British colonial past and now for over 60 years, both share the colonial rule of Islamabad, albeit with different experiences and rights and oppressions.

    Our solidarity is with the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination both in Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir.

    But we are no more ready to incarcerate ourselves for the Kashmiri people, when the Kashmiri leaders’ mindset, as reflected through the views of Yasin Malik and their cronies in AJK, is not different from that of the Dogras Sikhs, who think that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as loyal servants should suffer for their ‘previous masters’ for life, and voluntarily surrender all their freedoms and rights, even when these masters are continuously hatching conspiracies with their ‘grand masters’ and getting all kind of perks and privileges and even feel relieved when they see their loyal servants suffering from pain for their freedom.

    No more please. 70% of the 1.8 million population of Gilgit-Baltistan are below 30, and almost 90% of them are now in schools, colleges and universities. The youth of the area know were they want to be, what freedom means to them, and how to struggle and protect their fundamental rights.

  2. I am 100% confident that the so called Kashmiri leaders who are opposing this package for NA, don’t have answer for these questions. I doubt their knowledge about the area itself.

  3. Dear readers,
    I 100% agree with Amin Beg and thank him for informing us about many facts.

    Aslam Ghalib


  4. Well done Amin Bhai for your valuable contribution giving a chronological and historical perview of the facts of the past and thanks to Ashfaque Bhai for raising this issue.

    What a difference, there are people in some corners of our motherland Pakistan who want to (God Forbid) destabilize Pakistan but at the same time, there are hundreds of thousands of those Patriots of Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan who would love to sacrifice their lives for Pakistan in the Country as well as on the frontiers and would love to be called and are proud to be Pakistanis.

    I am sure that every form of Government has been well aware of the strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan, the historical facts and the level of love of its people for the motherland Pakistan. They therefore know what to decide and when to decide.

    Salutes to the Patriotic People of Gilgit-Baltistan…….Love you Pakistan…!!!

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