Gilgit, October 1 (PR) : Gilgit Baltistan is perhaps the only region on the global earth where citizens are still deprived of their constitutional rights to govern themselves through their chosen representatives in real sense. Access to independent judiciary for enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution is also lacking in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
These views were expressed at a joint meeting of the Office Bearers and Executive Committee of the Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court Bar Association, held today at the Bar room.
Presided over by Advocate Shebaz Khan, President, the meeting participants highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had decided and issued directions to the Federation of Pakistan to implement constitutional and fundamental rights in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, “within six months”, in the case titled Al-Jehad Trust Versus Federation of Pakistan, vide its judgment dated 28th May, 1999.
Participants of the meeting expressed displeasure and great disappointment on the pushing back policy of the above referred decision of the Apex Supreme Court of Pakistan by the Federation of Pakistan for the last 14 years, and “continuation of remote controlled governing system of Gilgit-Baltistan through issuance of executive orders from the corridors of the Ministry of Kashmir & Gilgit Baltistan Affairs Islamabd.”
They maintained that the present governing system in Gilgit-Baltistan under the provision of an executive order of Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment & Self-Governance) Order 2009, is a “full and deliberate violation of the decision and directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to give the people of Gilgit Baltistan a governing and judicial system guaranteed under a constitution.
The meeting observed that instead of giving more powers to the people of Gilgit Baltistan, the major powers enjoying by the Government of Northern Areas previously even under Northern Areas Governance Order 1994, have been curtailed and withdrawn by assigning the same powers to a half represented institution namely Gilgit Baltistan Council, having less than 50% representation of the region, which is actually and factually second name of Kashmir & GB Affairs Ministry Islamabad. Apart from various other powers, absence of powers to amend the Order 2009 by the chosen representatives of GB and non existence of a Claus in the present Order regarding status of GB Chief Court as High Court , appearing in the previous executive order of Northern Areas Governance Order 1994, is enough to prove that the people of Gilgit Baltistan have not been actually empowered at all as directed by the apex court.
The meeting reminded Honorable Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan regarding demands of the Association made on 20th May, 2013 and conveyed through the Minister for K & GB Affairs Islamabad to include the above sensitive issueues in the 100 days Special Agenda of the present newly elected PMLN Government but unfortunately no response has been shown in this regard so far. However, the meeting expressed its hope that the present regime will realize the sensitive situation of this region at the earliest to redress the confronting issues, which will be in the larger interest of Pakistan itself.
The meeting endorsed the decision of the recently held General Body meeting of the Association regarding knocking the doors of the Supreme Court of Pakistan for an immediate and effective implementation of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,s judgment reported in 1999 SCMR 1379. The meeting decided to send a delegation of office bearers of the Association to Islamabad very shortly to take appropriate and concrete steps in this regard.
The meeting further decided to consult and approach Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan & AJK Supreme Court Bar Association for their support and collaboration for convening a Conference in Islamabad tentatively in the month of January/February 2014 regarding “Status of Gilgit Baltistan”
Issues related to the delays in establishment of Administrative Courts in Gilgit Baltistan with special reference to GB Services Tribunal, GB Revenue Board, GB Labor Courts and GB Drugs & Narcotics Courts by the Government of Gilgit Baltistan were also discussed and the “non-serious” attitude of the government was highlighted. Concerns were also shown about the practice of importing Non-Local persons for appointments against the Judicial & Law related posts in Gilgit-Baltistan. It was demanded of the Federal and GB government to withdraw such appointments and hire eligible local people on important posts.
It was pointed out that a Banking Judge functioning in the region since 2012 is holding three different posts simultaneously, including Special Laws of Customs, Banking and Accountability. The meeting considered this act as not only an unlawful and illegal act but also a blow to the rights of local eligible judges & lawyers. The meeting demanded immediate separation of these posts to be filled from the local eligible persons.
Increase in the number of judges in GB was also demanded and appointment of local lawyers on vacant positions in the upper Courts. Concerns were expressed over the issue of indefinite continuation of appointments made on contractual posts in the GB Judiciary.