It is to the utter surprise of the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) that Council of Common Interests (CCI), a constitutional body set up under article 153 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is going to approve unanimously the construction of Diamer-Basha Dam. Despite the fact that the people of GB vehemently argue that GB is an integral part of Pakistan, it is being treated as a disputed territory both by Pakistan and India. The resolution is being passed in the wake of an objection lodged by India with the World Bank that the said dam is being constructed on a disputed territory therefore no finances should be provided to Pakistan for its construction. Two issues arise out of the situation i.e. whether GB is a disputed territory and whether CCI is a competent body to approve the construction of the dam? The answer to the first question is an absolute “NO”. GB was and is an integral part of Pakistan since its independence. Government of Pakistan exercises its control over the GB practically. The second question is bit contentious. However, in my humble opinion, CCI does not have any such authority over the GB as it is devoid of representation of the people of GB.
The approach of the Government of Pakistan should be inclusive rather then exclusive in resolving this whole issue. The will of the people of GB should be of paramount importance in the subject matter. The approval for construction of the dam should be sought from the GB Legislative Assembly and GB Council as these are the two forums on which both the federal government and Provincial Government of GB have representation. CCI is a body which represents and protects the interests of the four provinces of Pakistan and the federal government.
The writer is a corporate lawyer and with an LLM in Commercial and Corporate Law from King’s College London.