The willful prolong lenient policy & eye closing on sectarianism in Gilgit has created so much un-certainty, unrest, disappointment & distrust that a fertile environment has been created for the bad wishers and enemies of Pakistan to play their games to manure in roads into the extremist elements of different sects to promote more hate and hostility between them to destabilize & paralyze the beautiful Gilgit City, which is no doubt “Nervous Centre” being capital of the most sensitive and strategic region of Gilgit Baltistan, the real jugular vein of Pakistan. Thus continuation of mishandling policy of the Governments, state running machinery as well as ignorance on sensitive issues of Gilgit Baltistan showed by supreme judiciary, civil society, press and media of Pakistan, will cause irreparable loss to our beloved Country Pakistan if not realized and redressed at the earliest .
Mr. Nazir Naji, the eminent columnist speaks about the current situation in Gilgit Baltistan in his column recently published in daily Jang as under:
“It is pertinent to mention here that it is the people of GB, after the people of East Pakistan, who fought their war of independence themselves, got their freedom and joined Pakistan of their own volition”
“However, returning to the point I was making, it was the people of East Pakistan that had rendered the most sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan and after them, the people of GB who got their territory freed from an oppressor and joined Pakistan. The decision about East Pakistan was also taken by people who had no remarkable contribution to the creation of Pakistan. And now what is being done in GB is also being done by elements who never fought for the cause of Pakistan”.
“Gilgit has been in a curfew for the last three days. Corpses litter the roads and no one dare pick them up. Sectarian hatred is fermenting in South Punjab and our tribal areas and reaching that region”.
“Kashmir is the ‘jugular vein’ without which we have been living for 64 years. But if some enemy gets hold of our jugular vein of GB, we will definitely not have 64 years”
The feelings of insecurity, fear and terror to life of the people of all sects of Sunnis & Shias in Gilgit City since long in general and 80% population of all sects of Shias after the tragic invasion in 1988, barbaric killings of innocent people at Kohistan & Chilas on KKH recently in particular, has created a negative perception among the minds of the people of Gilgit Baltistan. The powerful sate organs have totally failed to realize the negative impacts of these happenings on unmatchable love, sentiments & ideological commitment of people of this area for the solidarity and security of Pakistan. The lawlessness and challenging state authority by few terrorists and extremists on KKH in general and in a small area of just 6 Km area of Gilgit City having a very small and scattered population in particular and failure of more than one dozen intelligence agencies to locate & detect the criminals & their master minds and the disappointing performance of incapable & inefficient GB political Government and district administrations and continuation of acquittals of criminals by the judiciary has created serious questions about the future of Gilgit Baltistan.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan, no doubt, are loyal and true lovers of Pakistan and rightly consider as a unpaid soldiers of the country but even then they have not been trusted so far by giving them full fledged political and legal rights guaranteed under a constitution as enjoyed by other Provinces in Pakistan, AJK and even Indian held Jammu and Kashmir people.
The Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment & Self Governance) Order 2009, on the basis of which present political, administrative, legislative, judicial and governance system of Gilgit Baltistan is built upon, is an Executive Order issued by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs, Federal Government of Pakistan under which the entire Gilgit Baltistan is ruled but this order does not have status, guarantee, back up or authority of a “Constitution” which makes this area as a unique region in the entire world . So instead of following status quo tactics of bureaucracy by making temporary arrangements of governance through issuance of “Executive Orders”, the time has come to take immediate political steps to bring Gilgit Baltistan at par with the four provinces of Pakistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Indian Held Jammu & Kashmir by giving the people of Gilgit Baltistan the same political & constitutional rights “Guaranteed under constitution” as directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its historical judgment in 1999 in the case of Al-Jehad Trust Versus Government of Pakistan, either by:
- Making amendment in the Constitution of I.R of Pakistan 1973 by declaring Gilgit Baltistan as fifth Province of Pakistan either permanently or provisional basis, having same rights enjoyed by the people of other four provinces.
- Replacing Gilgit Baltistan (Empowerment & Self Governance) Order 2009 by an Interim Constitution of Gilgit Baltistan as done in the case of AJK, by giving full powers to Gilgit Baltistan Assembly and other institutions as well as Gilgit Baltistan Council which must have 100% representation from Gilgit Baltistan with the exception of Prime Minister of Pakistan as Ex Officio Chairman.
One, may argue that presently the Gilgit Baltistan has been given Governor, Chief Minister and a Cabinet having full powers to govern the area and it is their failure in the present scenario. Besides known incapability & inefficiency of present GB Political Government, every body knows that how much they are empowered and how much they are being listened. Still all important decisions are being made in Islamabad and conveyed from the corridors of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs.
The lawlessness, unrest and fearful environment, as a result of sectarian tensions prevailing in Gilgit City since several years, has made this beautiful city “a hell” for the peace lovers and “heaven” for terrorists and extremists. Now the time has come to show the regime to implement its authority by establishing Writ of the Government fully and effectively. There must be no compromise at all to dealt with iron hands challenging state authority by the extremists and terrorists. The administration, security agencies and intelligence agencies must play their due legal role to upheld Rule of Law in the Gilgit Baltistan in general and Gilgit City in particular through “Justice and Equal Treatment”. One sided approach and biased policy will create grave consequences.
WHICH COULD BE HELPFUL TO NORMALIZE THE SIUATION
SHORT TERM SUJJESTIONS
1) Instead of begging extremists for peace, who in fact are mainly responsible
for such a grave situation, the Government must establish its writ by
up holding Rule of Law. No one should be above the law and every law breaker must be dealt with iron hands. The policy of encouragement, & leniency towards some extremist elements must be discouraged. The peace lover religious Ulmas be given due regard, preference and encouraged.
2. The Curfew imposed should not be lifted until and unless the last pistol/ arms is recovered from the enemies of peace and prosperity. The Army should remain in control of Gilgit City till arrest of last Terrorist ensuring peace and harmony in Gilgit City.
4) To confront problems of citizens in case of prolong curfew, the local
Administration should make arrangements of availability of essential food stuff and LPG in the Mohllahs of Gilgit City through Magistrates on spot payments basis even during the curfew hours.
5) In case of any emergency health problem, the DC Gilgit control room Or
DHQ Hospital should be directed to provide ambulances to transfer the patients to hospital.
6) The repeated search operations are required to make the Gilgit City
as Weapon Free City. For effective and meaningful search, the detecting instruments and trained dogs could be useful. However, recovery of weapons recovered so far are not meaningful keeping in view of availability of weapons in the city as witnessed on the various occasions of Aerial Firing. So, the intelligence information system is required to be geared up for successful repeated raids for effective weapons recovery .
7) All sectarian based organizations be declared as banned and the persons
running those organizations also be put on the Watch List to monitor their activities and they be restricted to work in any organization by changing name.
8) The both Jammia Masjids should not be opened un till CCTV cameras are
installed in side the mosques to monitor activities therein and the Khateebs & Naib Khateebs are appointed after getting Undertaking / Guarantee from them against the posts of recently created Ulema Board members or newly created posts.
9) The targeted Military Operations in Chilas & Darel /Tangir be started
forthwith to book the culprits of Kohistan & Chilas Incident and other crimes as well as the other absconders making this area as Heaven for Criminal Hidings. The terroists in Gilgit City also be booked before the law.
10) The VIP protocol culture awarded to religious elements by allowing them to
exhibit unauthorized & prohibited arms must be finished with out further
delay. In case of any genuine security threat, the administration should
provide official security.
11) Prime Minister of Pakistan be approached immediately for immediate
arrangements of C-130 Flights for Gilgit and additional PIA flights to Skardu till the KKH is fully secured by Pak Army in all respects.
(12) The Federal Government & GB Government must provide subsidy on the
Air Tickets of local passengers on the journey to and from Islamabad.
LONG TERM SUGGESTIONS:
- Legislation for Ban on political activities & election campaigns on
It has been experienced that new phase of sectarian tension erupts during the elections in Gilgit City Constituencies after each term. The mosques becomes political centers and the sectarian organizations become king makers by promoting sectarian sentiments to grab the votes purely on sectarian basis. There is dire need to discourage such kinds of activities by making legislation by the GB Legislative Assembly at the earliest imposing ban on political activities of all sectarian based organizations & their members, their direct or indirect support/assistance/participation to any other candidate’s campaign.
2. Drastic Changes in Criminal Investigation System
It is a bitter fact that since sixty years after liberation, there is no execution of death penalty to any murderer so far, which has surely ended fear of law among the killers of human being. The Judiciary, on many occasions, passed adverse remarks against the prosecution on their defective & inefficient criminal investigations resulting acquittal of criminals. So there is dire need to make drastic changes in the investigation and prosecution system by providing latest techniques and facilities and by engaging unbiased, efficient and capable investigation officers & forensic experts from other parts of country by giving them attractive salaries and other facilities and even award of 100000/- Rupees on each case of punishment upheld by the GB Supreme Appellate Court.
3. Government Control over Jammia Masjids & small 20 City Mosques
It is an admitted fact that, besides two Jammia Masjids, the role of other Masjids and Imamabargahs in the Gilgit city are very important with special reference to law and order situation. The Government must take control of at least 20 mosques/Imambargahs , half from each sect, by employing khateebs & Imams for these masjids/imambargahs as Government Servants for effective control. The appointments should be made after taking undertakings for law abiding and other peace needs.
The Two Jamma Masjids should have Two Khateebs/Imams in BPS 18 and two Naib Khateebs in BPS 16.
The 20 Khateebs/Imams should be given BPS 14.
The sectarian based organizations and persons must not be allowed to indulge in any Masjid/Imambargah affairs.
The property of the concerned Masjid/Imambargah shall be managed by a committee appointed by Khateeb/Imam after approval from administration.
- Law & Order Control Through CCTV Cameras.
The crime ratio all over the world using CCTV cameras has been controlled significantly. The Gilgit City is a small city by area and population as well, as such, easy to manage. Only one hundred CCTV Sets would be enough to control and observe happenings in the entire city and mosques/ Imambargahs. The Jammia Masjids and other 20 Masjids/Imambargah should also be equipped with such cameras.
- Establishment of Gilgit City Police
It has been observed that the local inhabitants of mohallahs do not cooperate with law enforcing agencies regarding arrest of culprits and crimes. So it is suggested to raise Gilgit City Police comprising 15 policemen, 01 SI, 02 ASI, 03 Head Constables & 09 Constables from each mohallah to be responsible for law & order and crimes in their own area. The appointments of eligible candidates should be made on the recommendations and guarantee of Mohallah Committees specially constituted for this purpose. The Mohllah Committees shall act as Peace Committees as well to monitor law & order situation and control crime in their area. There should be a Police Check Post in each Mohllah which will be responsible for arresting the actual culprit which committed crime in their area. The concerned mohallah check post shall collectively be responsible for Un-traced criminal cases in their area.
There are 35 Mohllah and villages in Gilgit City including Jagir Baseen & Sakwar. So the total strength of the Gilgit City Police would be 525-550. This force shall be under direct control of IGP GB.
- Constitution of Jirga for settlement of enmities between the different families in Gilgit City.
The sectarian tensions in Gilgit City, as a result, has given birth of enmities between several families which makes the situation more aggravated whenever sectaries tension erupts in Gilgit City as they come out to get benefit of such a situation for taking their revenges. So there is ample need to constitute 4 or 5 Jirga Teams under the command of District Administration to settle the enmities with in a period of 04 Months. In case of fixation of diyat, the Government should bear half of Diyat Amount. This arrangement will definitely reduce the sectarian tension in the city.
Apart from above mentioned measures, following steps be taken to generate economical activities in the region to confront poverty and un employment on fast track basis:
STEPS TO BE TAKEN BY CHAIRMAN GB COUNCIL
The GB Government should immediately put up a summary to Chairman GB Council/Prime Minister of Pakistan for the issuance of notification regarding:
i. Exemption of whole of Customs Duties and Taxes on imported goods to
be consumed in Gilgit Baltistan.
ii. Exemption of Sales Tax on the imports for rest of Pakistan to attract the
traders from down country to do their trade via KKH.
iii. Exemption of Taxes & duties on all kinds of investments in Gilgit
Baltistan foreign entrepreneurs.
iv. Instructions to Schedule Banks from Pakistan operating in Gilgit
Baltistan to provide credit facilities of at least 20% of Deposits/funds taken from Gilgit Baltistan to local enterprenuers/individuals as running finance for trading & other business activities as well as project financing.
- Immediate establishment of an Industrial Zone near Alam Bridge
Gilgit from GB Council Funds and there after industrial zones in each districts.
- The matured case of establishment of Export Processing Zone near
Gilgit be expedited by arranging notification from Ministry of Production Islamabad. This project would be very helpful to attract numerous Chinese Traders, who are interested to set up their Ware Houses to introduce their products not only in Pakistan but also intended to do have transit trade with Afghanistan, Iran & Gulf Region. Moreover, a lot of Chinese entrepreneurs are interested to set up their industrial units by using local raw material, particularly the minerals, to make finished or semi finished products.
- Inclusion of agenda regarding Opening of Skardu- Kargil & Astore- Sri Nagar Trade Routes, in the forth coming bilateral talks with India.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN BY GB GOVERNMENT
- Immediate issuance of Mining Leases & Exploration Licenses to
potential Local Entrepreneurs enabling the Gilgit Baltistan Metals Minerals & Gems Association (GBMMGA) to arrange meaningful foreign investment as per its commitments.
- Issuance of Instructions to Provincial Karakuram Cooperative Bank
Limited to play its role by financing mineral, agricultural and medicinal plant sector based business activities.
- Arrange Trade Delegations to neighboring Xinjiang China for promotion of bilateral trade.
The contributor is a lawyer. He can be reached at email@example.com