Education: The only cure for Gilgit-Baltistan

Zaheer Abbas

After the passage of more than 60 years since its inception, Gilgit-Balitistan is still deprived of its due right of constitutional representation. With no representation in the upper and lower house of the parliament, the inhabitants of this mountainous region are all dependent on others’ representatives who are sitting in the parliament. In these circumstances, people from GB do not expect much from the parliament, but then important question which comes to mind is, why are they not struggling for this due right like they did against the Dogra armed forces? The reason behind is very simple. They are not united as one body like they were before the so called ‘independence’. They are suffering from internal divisions. Among these divisions, the sectarian divide between Shia and Sunni sect, is of serious concern that, has engulfed the nation. Local residents also blame the “external elements” which, according to them, try to infuriate the existing deteriorated situation for their benefits.

Education, which can play a crucial role to curtail the diversities and making nation united, is unfortunately at scarce among the parts most vulnerable to these external elements. However, G-B in overall, keeping in mind its limited resources and education facilities, is performing better in education attainments as compared to other provinces. During a recent study conducted by Alif Ailaan, on district education rankings throughout the country, puts Gilgit-Baltistan at the third position in terms of education score. Despite the poor condition of school facilities, according to the report, this region is out performing all of the, comparatively well facilitated, provinces of Pakistan excluding Punjab, even it is not far behind Punjab with a minor difference in terms of education score.


Apart from the interprovincial disparities, Gilgit Baltistan is also facing intra provincial disparities in terms of educational facilities as well as educational attainments as depicted in the above graph. The extent of disparities can be visualized from the fact that, according to Alif Ailaan report, Hunza Nagar one of the eight districts of G-B stood at the 9th, while Diamer district of the same province is at 136 position in terms of education score (attainments), among the national rankings of 140 districts in total. This is not only limited to education attainments, the case is even worse in terms of educational facilities which have been captured through school index, where Diamer is the district suffering most from the lack of education facilities among all of the 144 districts of the country.

It is also important to mention here that, Diamer is the same district where number of sadistic incidents had happened in the near past. During the month of April last year, numbers of passengers had been killed, by a local mob, while they were on their way back home. Not only this, the tragic incident in which 11 foreign tourists had been brutally massacred near fairy meadows which also happened to be in the same district. These all are, no doubt, the consequences of the lack of education to my understanding.

The national government, however, is not responsible alone for these educational disparities, provincial government, I must say, is also part of the crime. After 18th amendment, education has been devolved to the provinces and it is the provincial government which, now, is responsible to fortify the institution of education in the respective provinces. By introducing article 25-A in the constitution, according to which government is responsible for the education of all children from 5-16 years of age, Parliament has, to some extent played its role of policy formulation. Now it is the turn of the provincial governments to play their role.

The contributor is a Research Associate at Idara-e-Talim-o-Aagahi (ITA). 

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  1. Through his research, Zaheer Abbas has reminded us again that education can help us deal with political deprivation and secterain fault lines. In South Africa during the struggle against apartheid, the black independence movement leaders (Mandela was in jail) equated education with white rule and boycotted schools…remember the famous song… we don’t need no, education…! They suffered and are continuing to pay a heavy price even several decades after independence in terms of lack of technical, business and management skills–with virtually no difference in poverty levels among the black masses before and after independence–and are largely dependent on minority white community (and migrant workers from neighboring Zimbabwe, who were also ruled by the whites but whose leaders did not boycott education), despite having their own government. The only difference is emergence of a small black elite.

    In India also, Ghandi advocated non-cooperation in all matters related to social and technological progress. He had insisted on putting his cotton weaving wheel on the India flag after independence, but after Nehru’s tireless pleading, they reached a compromised and agreed on a modern-looking wheel! There were many Muslim leaders who also promoted a similar policy, including the advocates of the Khilafat movement.

    But visionaries like Sir Saeed Ahmed Khan and Sir Sultan Mohammad Shah advocated modern education. They advocated education as a long term strategy to gain economic and political empowerment for the masses. Jinnah built on that foundation. As a result of Ghandi’s myopic vision, India remained inward looking after independence and lost many “decades of development”, until mid 1990s, when it began to modernize under BJP. PAkistan had a solid start after independence, until ZAB nationalized education and industry–the two vital drivers of national development. The rest is history as the saying goes!!

  2. Glad to see such a pe0ple who want to develope our GB by making education as stragitic and powerfull souce . by the increment of education we can make our GB a perfact land ever in pakistan .there are alot of people in GB who takes a keen interst in building of of our motherland . RESPECT FOR SUCH A PEOPLE . ……………………….l0ve my G.B (the hidden paradise)

  3. Zaheer Abbas! Well elaboration and thanks for sharing the findings of education attainment. you have indicated towards two main issues of Gb 1. Not having constituently right in National assembly & Senate. 2. Importance of Education and ranking level of students’ attainment. Izhar Hunzai a well known social scientist of GB has elaborated in detail regarding education and results of accepting changes. The nations who have not faced the challenges of new time and have not accepted changes have remained always backward and underdeveloped.

    1. Constitutional right of GB ! So far no political leadership has taken it seriously. Individual efforts are made to raise the voice but not collectively. In a discussion I was asking Inayetullah shumali why joint efforts are not made at all levels to make GB a corruption free zone and address the main issues. He told me that we had formed a grand alliance of political parties and CM was its General Secretary. It is shocking this group could not achieve a remarkable target except on working on peace but still it is improving area.
    We would recommend and suggest to all parties leadership to work jointly to achieve this common goal that is the right of vote in National assembly. The present governing party of GB should keep close coordination and liaison with all leadership to strengthen integration to raise common voice. Unfortunately it has not happened in GB so far. In spite of following the principle of equity and equality every leader has tried to give benefit his party worker. If this would be our standard of leadership than how can we expect to get our right? This is the need of hour to be same on page to get vote right. GBIANS would never forget that leader and party who would address this issue.

    2. Diamer district in educational perspective : As above finding shows that all we need to work more to enhance the educational awareness in Diamer. Many time I had quoted that in Diamer the no of boys students is 19523 while girls students are 3394 ( EMIS 20111-2012) This figure indicates clearly towards imbalance society. In 611 AD Our Serkar du Alam Holy Prophet peace be upon him had made it pre requisite and obligatory to acquire education for male and female equally. In 2013 still we are reluctant to follow the direction of our Rehmatulil alimeen. In such situation what would be our position in society.

    Though it is really alarming and challenging for all leadership( Political, religious, social) and scholars of Diamer but same time all Leadership and management of GB also can not abdicate itself from this responsibility. All need to work more to bring this district in main stream line as well as rest of GB districts. The local leadership better knows how much time will required being balance in the strength ob boys and girls students in Diamer. It does not mean that in Diamer human resource is not available these are diameries who had introduced first time private school system in GB that was Islamia High school Gilgit was established in seventies by Prof. Dr Salim who is darelee.
    However it seems individual efforts have been made in diamer not in collective way. All the Leadership and social activist of Diamer need to be on one page to make their society a well balance society to cope the destination. Last month many groups and stake holders from shangela, besham and Kohistan had visited GB schools to replicate the models in their area.
    At last my suggestion would be with Govt management and leadership to take steps to sensitize and motivate the community of Diamer especially remotest areas and villages to break the ice for opening female schools to make a balance society. It is well said that to educate a boy is to educate an individual while to educate a female is to educate a whole family. We need to show maturity in educational perspective as well as politically to ensure establishment of civilized society.

  4. Its the fault of Diamer people themselves, why do they blow up girl schools. No one can help them change if they do not want themselves to change.

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