Self-help key to GB rebuilding

Noor Muhammad

The newly elected government of Gilgit-Baltistan may never have imagined that its first year would be spent in fighting two of the region’s worst natural calamities.

Over 20,000 people evacuated from vulnerable villages downstream of the dammed Hunza lake were still in relief camps when the worst flood disaster struck all seven districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. According to Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority a total of 347 villages were affected due to the rains and floods, including 71villages in Diamer District where 103 casualties also took place. The total death toll in Gilgit-Baltistan is 183, as reported by GBDMA.

The total number of houses damaged in Gilgit-Baltistan has been reported at 2,830 by the regional authority. A total of 86,000 people were affected including over 9,500 in Diamer District alone due to destruction of 953 houses.

Around 947 kilometres of paved and unpaved roads have been left in shambles, 182 bridges destroyed and several hydel power stations destroyed, plunging a major part of the region into darkness.

Skardu and Ghanche were the second worst hit districts in terms of loss of life, with 56 casualties, mostly in Qumrah and Talis villages which were washed away by flash floods while the people were asleep. Ghizer was the third worst hit district in terms of inundation of cropped fields, destruction of houses and damages to infrastructure.

Gilgit-Baltistan needs enormous rebuilding before temperature drops below the freezing point. The federal government is strapped for cash. The governments of China and USA have sent relief goods but a long term strategy for the entire region seems to be missing at the moment. The Gilgit-Baltistan government has expressed its inability to cope with the disaster. The chief minister has demanded Rs12 billion from Islamabad. But his cabinet does not seem to understand. A senior minister has spent millions of rupees on self glorifying advertisements during the Independence Day celebrations.

The government of Gilgit-Baltistan has several options available that can be exploited to generate resources for normalization of life in the region. The biggest resource is the highly mobilised and motivated development-oriented communities of Gilgit-Baltistan. They only need expert help and some funds which can be obtained from the amount requested from the federal government, supplemented by contributions from international governments and NGOs. The website of Gilgit-Baltistan government may be used for collecting donations from the world over and GB’s own expatriate community.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Council needs to be made functional on priority basis. The onus of initiating and harmonising the joint relief and rehabilitation efforts and maintenance of law and order rests on the shoulder of the Governor and Chief Minister. They can lead the region towards hope with wise, effective and visionary leadership.

Source: DAWN

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  1. I totally agree Noor. We need to explore the avenues that enable us to make us self reliant. For several reasons we have developed dependent mentality. Only by removing this barrier in our minds we can bring about change in real terms. Otherwise we will end up begging and complaining to the government which itself go around the world with begging bowl in hands.

  2. An active Civil Society can open the door for an enormous variety of energies and talentsfrom a broad spectrum of organisations and individuals. It means opening the way for diversity. It means welcoming plurality. ……three critical underpinnings of a quality Civil Society — a commitment to pluralism, to meritocracy, and to a cosmopolitan ethic.

    A cosmopolitan ethic is one that welcomes the complexity of human society. It balances rights and duties, freedom and responsibility. It is an ethic for all peoples, the familiar and the Other, whether they live across the street or across the planet.

    The Aga Khan Development Network has worked over five decades to assist in the enhancement of Civil Society. Civil Society is your recognition that democratic societies require more than democratic governments.

    I have been impressed by recent studies showing the activity of voluntary institutions and not-for-profit organisations – a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture — the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others.

    This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment — “enlightened self-fulfillment.”

    During my Golden Jubilee — and this is important — six years ago Ismailis from around the world volunteered their gifts, not only of wealth, but most notably of time and knowledge, in support of our work. We established a Time and Knowledge framework, a structured process for engaging an immense pool of expertise involving tens of thousands of volunteers.

    In sum, I believe that Civil Society is one of the most powerful forces in our time, one that will become an increasingly universal influence, engulfing more countries, influencing, reshaping and sometimes even replacing ineffective regimes. And I also believe that Civil Society around

    Quality education is fundamental to the development of a meritocratic Civil Society, and thus to the development of pluralistic attitudes.

    Address of His Highness the Aga Khan to both Houses of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa
    27 February 2014

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