[Opinion] No royalty, the bitter appetizer!

Quwwat Khan Sunny

The federal Minister for communication has given a fatwa that Gilgit-Baltistan does not qualify for Royalty on Bhasha Dam, for Royalty is paid to a province not a territory that lies outside of the jurisdiction of the constitution. The minister further has boasted that the fate of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would radically change in the coming decades.

Like most of the grandpas who always have bucketful of jokes to please the innocent kids, the federal pundits have great constitutional explanations to legitimize their injustices and to turn down the rights of the people. They always have been hungry for power and resources and have never been ashamed of repressing the weak. This has been witnessed for decades in this relatively lawless country.

Gilgit-Baltistan is contextually a weak territory and the pundits at Islamabad have gauged the weak nerves of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the last 63 years.

They know about this blasé nation which has been leniently living in the fantasy of packages, executive orders and support programs. An excessively harmless nation that believes in the stroke of the pen rather than the smoke of guns has got nothing to prevent any external strategic and economic venture — they know it.

They have found us trained subjects to their courts. They are aware of the comfort we have in their loyalty. They know the fact that we take pride in dusting the welcome mats of Wattos, Chaudries and Gojars of Lalamusa.  So why should they hesitate to pass their time playing around us and leech the great strategic and economic gains from the soil that belongs to none but the people of the region.

So we do not qualify for the royalty? Bravo!  Loot whatever you find in my house to feed your kids and pay me nothing, for your family rules does not allow to do so? Where did you get the sort of constitution that allows encroaching and confiscating somebody’s property and limits rewarding and compensating for what you exploit?  You must be playing with the emotions of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as usual.

May be Mr. Arbab is a candid gentleman, surprisingly upfront to call spade a spade that Gilgit-Baltistan is a deprived and politically orphan territory where neither the constitutional regulations can be imposed nor the residents can be expropriated from their own resources. But he seems to have no problem dynamiting somebody’s yards to feed his voters in Punjab and Khybar Pukhtoonkhwa.  Thus his candidly posed personage is unverifiable.

A snagging question: why don’t they make Kalabagh Dam, a giant feasible project in their own province? It can irrigate their fields, quench their thirst and protect them from the devastating floods in much better way than Diamer Dam. Well, Raja Perveiz Ashraf has announced that “opposition from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and other stakeholders, the project was no longer feasible”

There you go; they do not want to displease their voters. They instead would snatch from the weak. They would loot the unattended free stuff like Bhasha or Sadpara, pretty simple.

It is, however, ruthless to blame the constitution for everything that represents an ill intention. Gilgit-Baltistan has a great respect for the constitution of Pakistan not because it is their constitution but because they do not have one like that. There are people in Gilgit-Baltistan who read the constitution of Pakistan, despite the fact that it is not binding on them.

About the matter under discussion, article 161. (1) of constitution of Pakistan says, “Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 78 the net proceeds of the Federal duty of excise on natural gas levied at well-head and collected by the Federal Government, and of the royalty collected by the Federal Government, shall not form part of the Federal Consolidated Fund and shall be paid to the Province in which the well-head of natural gas is situated.”

Sub Section (2) further states, “ The net profits earned by the Federal Government, or any undertaking established or administered by the Federal Government from the bulk generation of power at a hydro-electric station shall be paid to the Province in which the hydro-electric station is situated.”

This, perhaps, is being referred by Arab Alamgir. It appears the article does not prevent to give royalty to the people of any territory where the resource is extracted. It, rather urges on the correlation between the natural resource and the original ownership that would be entitled to the royalty. Disproportionably focusing on the word, “Province” in the constitution entails a greed, ill-intention and injustice.

If constitutional experts take the province as it is, then the acquisition of land from a territory other than the province would be unconstitutional. It is the same constitution that stresses on the word “Province” when it allows acquisition of land for federal purposes.

Article of 152, under the head “Acquisition of Land for Federal purposes” sets out that “The Federation may, if it deems necessary to acquire any land situate in a Province for any purpose connected with a matter with respect to which [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] has power to make laws, require the Province to acquire the land on behalf, and at the expense, of the Federation or, if the land belongs to the Province, to transfer it to the Federation on such terms as may be agreed or, in default of agreement, as may be determined by an arbitrator appointed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan

Which article is being followed; the first one about royalty? Or the later about transferring the land on the terms agreed upon, determined by an arbitrator or Chief Justice of Pakistan?

Apparently no constitutional guidance is being followed but a word of choice (Province) that creates confusion and ambiguity paving the way to grab the free stuff, is being used to befool the innocent people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

If a constitution deprives someone of his rights (as Mr. Arbab states, it does), it is a constitutional error. It should be fixed before someone starts digging around holes.

The government of Pakistan got UK work permits to thousands of the people of Dadyal and Mangla to reciprocate their deprivation. As a result, most of the Pakistani community in UK belongs to Mirpur, Mangala or Dadyal who have a fair role in influencing the Kashmir cause internationally. One of them recently threw his shoe at the face of President of Pakistan in Birmingham. Is there any plan to accommodate any of the Chilasies or people of Diamer in the similar fashion?  Who will guarantee to compensate adequately for the loss of businesses in the area of Bhasha Dam? Would the people of Gilgit-Baltistan be given free electricity forever?

Is there any plan to provide the best free water supply system in Gilgit-Baltistan and who will guarantee it? What employment (top to bottom) quota has been agreed upon in this project for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan?

This is a right time for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to thoroughly determine and address the core concerns related to the project. The royalty denial issue should be taken seriously and be addressed promptly. Can a country construct dams in an internationally disputed region, is a question of great concern too.

All the modern economic deals and projects are undertaken by the parties with the simple WIIFM (what is in it for me?) premise. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan should be conscious of their rights and interests. They should maturely react to what is being said or done against their interests.

Sitting cross-legged like very nice kids has so far earned us nothing but deprivation. We should at least nudge each other to save something for our future generations. The future of our generations wholly and solely depends on the energy resources and the strategic competitiveness.

There is a big talk about the new great game in the region. We have to decide whether we want to be a party to the deal or a sandwich. Remember; most of the external activities in the region would be undertaken in a camouflaged style. “The destiny of the people of GB would be radically changed” is a peace time card stalking propaganda. Whispering no royalty means to serve a bitter appetizer.

The contributor is based in Canada. He belongs to Yasin, Ghizar.

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  1. Wow ! what an article. Your logic and arguments are fact based and represents the ground reality. In one way, I am feeling happy about the the Pakistani minister’s comments about GB that it does not kind of belong to Pakistan though it deprives our people financially. Who wants to be a part of a country that leaders, politicians and most of the population is chours and dakoos. Thank you minister for not including us in your chour and dakoo state.

    Quwwat Khan, could you please send me your email address at – I also live in your current country of residence. Thanks.

  2. Dear all,

    I have yet to see any of the concerned individuals advocating with our two representatives to take up on priority the legislative proposal on “Harmonization of Customary Laws on Natural Resources”:
    In my opinion this is the only logical recourse to realize the rights ensured by UN Universal declaration to which GOP is a signatory. Please read the preamble and Definitions carefully and help realize the rights in a civilized manner.

  3. I agree with every word of yours, Dear QKS. You have really done a marvelous job.

    The people of GB need to stand up and fight for its constitutional right. Public advocacy is really weak in the region because of willfully engaging the people of GB in non issues such as ethnic and sectarian issues by the national security agencies.

    Education is not only a tool to get jobs, it has to transform a society into a knowledge society which is well aware of its rights, duties and social responsibilities and welfare of its members.

    I think we are squarely divided by sectarian, ethnic, economic, cultural, and linguistic lines and the divide is deep rooted that it needs years of hard work to repair it.

    The fate of the people of GB is in the hands of illiterate mullahs and sheikhs installed by the agencies, who are trained only to teach and preach hatred because if we get united they will die of hunger, because their bread and butter is ensured when people are divided and their masters are pleased.

    A new breed of people who are imposed on us are the semi-literate “jiyalaas” sitting in the GB legislative assembly, who have only one point agenda “LUTTO TEY PHUTTO”. They are least bothered what happens to the people of this region.

  4. Great article written by SUNNY. It mirrors the sentiments of every patriotic person of Gilgit-Baltistan. The occupying power is not allowed to exploit the the resources of the territories under its control for its own benefit. If the Minister does not consider G-B as province and not entitled to royalty,then which international law has given him right to construct a dam over our land displacing thousands of people and destroying our ecological balance.
    The people of G-B should seriously think about their political stataus. On the one hand sevaral empires are struggling through great game to bring the region under their influence, while on the other, a Federal Minister of Pakistan denies our due royalty on the plea of being out of the ambit of the constitution of Pakistan. This is traversty of the matter.

  5. Each sentence of the above article is full of logic and advocating the deprived people through an intellectual reasoning.
    GBLA should take these concerns into account in order to ensure a win-win scenario for the people of GB out of any project constructed at our soil to beneficiate other provinces.

  6. I agree to mr Jaikhal that we should be thankful to the minister for speaking the truth, we sholud look at ourselfs , how we are just degrading ourself by directing our efforts in settling scores with each others and wellcoming expoliters.
    I want 2 add just two pts :-
    1. geogharaphically , historically and culturally GB is more closer to central Asia then Indian subcontinent, after associating ourselfs with Paksitan ( mainly indian culture of ever subjugated ppl by the invaders ) we are loosing our oun cultural values .
    2. with in pakistan our ppl and leaders should take a principal stance and deal with pakistani fedration on equal terms. How in 21st century some one sitting at islamabad ,or elected from punjab,sind,PK ,or balouchitan can decide the fate of ppl and natural resources from GB. did we join pakistan on terms of salavery?

  7. Mr. QK has written a nice article. I request him that he should write such article in Pakistani newspapers. After reading such informative and revolutionary article, I deem it wise to add some more words.

    After the objection of three provinces on construction of Kalabagh Dam, government is willing to construct Diamer dam (DM) in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB); but the obstacles in its construction i.e. royalty and demarcation of boundary between GB and KP, have not been resolved yet. Although due to the construction of this reservoir GB’s more than 80% land would be inundated, but the propensity of government on its royalty seems to be towards KP, which will be a devastative and subversive attempt. As Federal Minister for Communication Mr. Arbab Alamgir while talking to journalists in Peshawar on October 4 quoted a controversial statement that the royalty of DM would not be given to GB because GB is a disputed territory, and according to the constitution of Pakistan disputed areas are not given royalty. Soon after this statement, the Gilgit Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court (GBSAC) in a suo moto case on 15th of this month, announced a verdict that 75% royalty of DM was the right of GB, while 25% should be given to KP, and if the disputed area between GB and KP after demarcation is given to GB, then the region will have 100% royalty. The court also stated that 142 kilometers of land of GB would be submerged while KP’s only 4 ½ kilometer land would come under water.
    After the apex court’s (GBSAC) decision, government should allay the misgivings of people of GB and the tug of war between GB and KP, otherwise the real stakeholders of this mega project will resist against its construction.
    Due to the consecutive injustices by Pakistani Governments the new generation of GB are converting towards nationalism, which would, in future, be a chaotic and subversive attempt for ‘Pakistani Usurpers’.

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