Gilgit-Baltistan comprises valleys of incredible beauty and the world’s tallest mountains but its people are no more concerned with its scenic charms. Political developments in recent years have made them rather cynical. The spread of education, increase in general awareness and contact with the outside world has made them conscious of what their rights are as citizens of a democratic state.
Until yesterday I was very happy that now we have our own identity, now we are self-sufficient. Our own governor? Our own chief minister? Our ministers? All our own representatives, from our own poor people! But when I read that “62 vehicles will be purchased for the governor, chief minister and six ministers of Gilgit-Baltistan,” my heart sank and my spirits and elation plunged into despair and someone cried within me: “We have lost every thing!” My despair turned into hopelessness when I read further that the “Chairman FPSC & other secretaries will also be provided with new Prados and Intercoolers.”
Then suddenly I remembered Khan Liaquat Ali Khan who was the prime minister of both East & West Pakistan, was a born “Nawabzada” of India who had been educated abroad where he had personal servants to attend to his all needs and a luxurious apartment. But here as the prime minister of this poor country he died a penniless man. There was only one doctor to look after his cabinet ministers. Once Quaid-i-Azam told Dr Shah to look after the health of his ministers as they were working day and night for the country.
These words suddenly echoed in my mind when I read further in the newspaper that one Land Cruiser for Rs15 million, a Mercedes for Rs12 million and two five-door other vehicles for Rs24 million will be purchased for the governor alone. The felling deepened that we have lost every thing. Then suddenly my mind went back to the statement of Marvi Memon saying this package was nothing but a drama created by the government to silence the people of the region. There is no mutual understanding between political parties, parliament and assembly about this decision.
Then I came to realize that in the story of transformation from Northern Areas to Gilgit-Baltistan what is happening and what is going to happen. The details of the vehicles that would be provided to the chief minister were mind-boggling. This I thought is a wake up call for the people of the region. They should know the ‘real’ meaning of the constitutional package.
Afaq Mehmood, is a resident of Gilgit and a student of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad: firstname.lastname@example.org (DAWN)