Governance in Gilgit – Baltistan

by Aziz Ali Dad

Effective management of the affairs of the assembly and good governance will require that the leaders rise above petty personal interests. The members of the GBLA and the new setup should master the modern mode of governance. Application of worn out strategies for the management of the new system would be doomed to failure.

To ensure good governance it is indispensable for GBLA members and the staff associated with the assembly to be truly empowered. The existing setup and procedures are new to most of the members of the assembly. In the absence of clear understanding of the system the local administration there is a state of confusion resulting from the fact that while the administration has experience of the previous system, the mode of administrative functioning has changed at the upper tiers of the system under the new package. One of the flaws of the empowerment package is that it was hastily put together, without an effort being made to prepare the ground for the new system. Because of this, the bulk of the development last year’s budget went to the meeting of the new system’s expenses.

Empowerment entails great responsibility. It is the responsibility of the members of the GBLA to ensure development in the area by using their powers effectively. Too much dependence on the bureaucracy and the central government will render futile all the exercise involved in setting up the new system: the election and the establishment of new institutions, as well as the legislation the assembly will produce.

Members of the GBLA enjoy perks and privileges and a hefty amount is earmarked for the chief minister and the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan. If this trend continues, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan would end up incurring a large debt on non-development expenditures. Without generation of resources at the local level the Gilgit-Baltistan government cannot meet its expenses. In the long term this will contribute to bad governance.

Gilgit-Baltistan’s failure to manage its own affairs will provide justification to the bureaucracy and some political elements at the centre to take away the powers of the GBLA. Since they are representative of the people it is the duty of the elected members to acquaint themselves well with the new system and ensure development by encouraging effective exploitation of available resources in the region. Gilgit-Baltistan has enormous potential in minerals and mining.

Complete at SOURCE

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  1. We agree with the general argument of the article but we would take exception to the thesis that incompetence of any incumbent GB dispensation should serve as a compelling pretext for federal authorities to snatch away diluted powers. One can wonder at the unprecedented lack of vision in current PPP government in Islamabad and yet no one has come forward so far to marginalize them. The point is that Pakistan is by and large a mediocre country so that is the order of things. However, this point should not be construed as my argument for status-quo, rather I wish to dispel the impression that scrupulous politicians and power-hungry federal authorities will always be looking for exploitation in GB.

    Even if such kind of thing happens the civil society should organise itself to form a bulwark against encroachment of power and interference from the center.
    While devolution of power and strengthening local communities and federating units is in the best interest of Pakistan for it to be a progressive and just society, yet we believe that state institutions can make real difference in the lives of people if corruption is rooted out, ethno-prejudices marginalized, and religious and sectarian commitments purged. But unfortunately Pakistani state has conducted itself over the last fifty years as a partisan political force in which certain ethnic groups dominate at the expense of others. Unlike many post-colonial societies Pakistan is a heterogeneous country and hence QAZ’s famous constituent speech in which he talked about creating a sense of ‘citizenship’ based on the membership of the country irrespective of religion, caste or creed. But successive military-bureaucratic power-brokers have turned this state into a global geo-political pawn, and a local tinder-box for terrorism.

    We in GB should understand these historical forces all around us and respond accordingly. Needless to say but the idea of Pakistan is very beautiful however it has been tormented so much that it is rather wise to turn away from it. May be I am seeing things in a shorter time-frame but I am no Cho En Lai and Pakistan is no China. I hope people understand the allusion.

  2. The entire GBLA House including CM, Cabinet and members should go through an training process. This training should be conducted by legislation and constitutional experts, federal secretaries, eminent law maker and former parliamentarians, experts in the field of management, planning, financial and monetary matters, monitoring and evaluation and law and order matters.
    This is necessary because our members have not expertise to run a government. They have got experience as district and NA councilors but they have no exposure to run an entire system nor they have got the required education. In the their present capacity they are unable to contribute to good governance rather they are while elephants to the existing fragile economy.

    1. The comments by gbpost on the article of Mr.Aziz Ali Dad is highly commendable and worth reading. The author has correctly and succinctly depicted political realities in Pakistan. Pakistani State and politics is dominated by elite groups who are corrupt from top to bottom and use every thing from religion,sect to ethnicity to further their strangle- hold. They donot have slightest sympathy with the common man except lip service. Unfortunately, the 18th constitutional amendment instead of getting rid off the laws,which promote fanaticism, sectarianism and anti-minority laws has further strengthened dynastic and monarchical form of plutocracy in contradiction to Mr.Jinnah’s 11th August speech
      My worry is that our politicians learn from their counterparts in Pakistan and rather emulate their party leadership’s method of governance. This is a very dangerous tendency, which should be immediately curbed.Here comes the role of the comments by Immaculate Dream. Our politicians should be given a short training on real democracy, social justice, secularism and modern political practices in the western democracies by our own local NGOs, experts and intellectuals to save them from the evil influences of Pakistani politicians.

  3. Taking the important points raised by gbpost, Immaculate Dream and Dr. Sabit Rahim further, I would say that the process of preparing informed and skilled leaders will have to start somewhere in our schools/colleges and universities or other youth bodies that need to be in place for this specific purpose.

    I am not really optimistic about raising the skill base of Thekedars who seem to be reigning power in Gilgit – Baltistan.

    Establishing a civil society organization focused on capacity building of future leaders, legislators and policy planners seems to be an overdue task.

    GBLA can do the region a favor by establishing the Gilgit – Baltistan Youth Parliament, as a first step in this direction.

    It is going to be a long wait, but hopefully worth it.

  4. Thanks for valuable feedback on my article by gbpost, Immaculate Dream, Noor and Dr. Sabit Rahim. Let me to confess first that the issue of governance is not my forte. I am basically a student of philosophy but this time I venture into the area of governance because some readers wrote emails complaining that I always engage with theoretical issues and do not write about issues related to GB.

    It is the nature of op-ed writings that we have to convey a message within the limited space of words. That is why we tend to generalize things. The devil hides in the detail. Hence, I am scared of dealing with it. By criticism from readers helps revealing the devil in details. Gbpost has rightly pointed out “that incompetence of any incumbent GB dispensation should serve as a compelling pretext for federal authorities to snatch away diluted powers.” I might not be clear at this point. The point I wanted to highlight was that the current dispensation of power would continue as de jure power, but the bureaucracy will become de facto power of affairs. This kind of set up is conducive to bureaucracy’s interest because it can put onus of incompetence on elected representatives while enjoying real powers. Our elected members need to realize that it is their test to prove their worth by exercising power rightly with clear vision. I had paragraph regarding capacity building of GBLA members and staff about the modus operandi of the new system but editor deleted it because of the constraints of space.

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