If the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should owe someone for something for lifetime, it should be their profound life time gratitude to His Highness Prince Karim Aga khan. His concerted efforts have resulted in the socio-economic and educational uplift of the people of Ghizer, Hunza and Nagar districts if not entire Gilgit-Baltistan. The chain of schools in the shape of Diamond Jubilee middle and high schools and the fanciful Aga Khan Higher Secondary Schools are undoubtedly uncontested pillars of quality education of Gilgit Baltistan and of which I myself am a direct beneficiary. Not only that, the basic health units extended to the far flung of areas in the said districts have ensured quality treatment with ease. In addition to that students of Gilgit Baltistan belonging to the Ismali community studying at various top ranked Universities of Pakistan have been thoroughly sponsored by Aga Khan Education Service Pakistan thus making financial hurdle as something to care less about. Moreover, the Aga khan rural support program has drastically improved the socio economic conditions of the people of Hunza and Ghizer if not Gilgit Baltistan to entirety which is evident by the standard of living and entrepreneurial diversity in the said region.
However, the latest statistics which has revealed the tremendous literacy rate of Gilgit Baltistan is a moment of joy, pride and a moment of shame at the same time. It speaks volumes about the unequal level of attention that the district Diamer has experienced incessantly. At a time when the remaining 7 districts namely Gilgit, Ghezir, Hunza Nagar, Diamar, Astore, Baltistan (Skardu) and Ghanche of Gilgit Baltistan have thrived, Diamer remains far behind in the race due to the incessant negligence of the successive governments, idle leadership of Diamer and the heedlessness of the so called NGO’s operating in rest of Gilgit Baltistan. According to the documented facts released by Ministry of Education of Gilgit Baltistan government as many as 54 percent of total youth are out of schools in district Diamer. Equally ironic is the fact that the remaining lots in schools are deprived from quality education and basic academic modules in schools. The infrastructure is dilapidated condition and the system is headed by lethargic and corrupt officials.
Mind you, Diamer is home for tourists, and comprises of, Daral, Tangir, Thore, Hudur, Gais Paen, Gohar Abad, Bonerdass, Goner Form, Riakot and Thalichi etc. A region once known for producing its bureaucratic presence in the administration of Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan is now craving for quality education. Currently education system has been virtually destroyed in the district and to cope with that those who can afford were able to send their children to cities like Gilgit and other provinces for better education. But, this very handful of them to say the least.
There are multifaceted reasons to impose educational emergency in Diamer district. Given the geographical position of Diamer and its proximity with the rest of Pakistan it stability holds immense importance for the entire region. At a time when the influx of terrorism in Pakistan is undeniably moving upward towards northern region of Pakistan the region of Diamer perfectly suits the aspirations of firebrand extremists. If the livelihoods and education level is not uplifted the poor masses of Diamer will be vulnerable to extremist practices. Government needs to act and act swiftly and should formulate a clear modus oprendi for district Diamer in collaboration with other NGO’s. Also, it is time that the so-called leadership and elites of Diamer who have this honorific life style of Arabian Sheikdom, act decisive and lobby for the educational uplift of their region. If not addressed on time the threat of Diamer being the next heaven of extremist element will be radically real and imminent with disastrous consequences for entire Gilgit Baltistan given the vitality of KKH and its proximity with district Diamer.
The contributor is former foreign minster at youth parliament and studying international relations from Bahria University.