What is common among the members of Legislative Assembly Gilgit-Baltistan (GBLA) and other stakeholders of GB? Sense of responsibility; No, education policy; absolutely not, sentiments to ensure peace and implementation of law in its true letter and spirit; totally absent, emancipation of accountability; No, No, culture of merit, again No. The correct answer is; corruption, nepotism, cronyism, fanaticism, embezzlement, incompetency, fraudulence, dishonesty etc these are the qualities which are common among the GBLA members and other stakeholders of government as well as NGOs sector.
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) has been burning in the bloody fire of corruption for the last many years. The gravest problem of GB is corruption but there are also other issues along with this gigantic evil, viz law and order, subsidy on some commodities, extremism, ignorance, energy crisis, boarder disputes, etc. This has badly tarnished the social, political and economic fabric of GB and it can be detrimental for the whole region. No any department is free from corruption may it be education, health sector, tourism, WAPDA, or any other. It is unbridled among law enforcing agencies, courts, fisheries and agriculture and all the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) etc. it is well said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; but here in GB the situation is somewhat different, the so-called stake holders are absolutely powerless but they are absolute corrupt in every aspect. It has now become their political slogan to plunder the national exchequer and poverty ridden masses from all side; they accumulate as much money as possible and celebrate the festive when they became billionaire with great pomp and show. This is the open confession of their own corruption, (as Ali Madad Sher did). If we peep into the last three decades, the GB government has done nothing for the welfare of the indigenous people. Their motives were clear; they came plundered, divided the people, pleased the federal government and went after the completion of their shameful tenure. The so-called leaders have dragged their poor masses into complete darkness and still follow the same policy. They have neither any plan nor have any capability and capacity to take any active and positive step to uplift their nation. These ignorant people could not be called leaders because they don’t possess any quality, a leader must have. We can called Nelson Mandela a leader; his charismatic leadership championed the noble cause for which he was striving for decades; “apartheid in South Africa”. He eradicated it with wisdom and without any violence. These puppet leaders cannot be compared with Mandela at any cost. They are selfish and self-interested and they have nothing to do with the myriad people if their vested interests are fulfilled. In the last five years GBLA has broken all the previous records of corruption in every field and no any department remained safe from their dirty hands. For instance, take the education sector of GB; undoubtedly, there is no scarcity of talent in GB. But what the so called ministers and their compliances have done with it is the complete destruction of the education system and the future of our new generation seems to be dark and ruined. They conducted test and interviews and bestowed their dear ones and all those dishonest who sell their conscience and gave huge sum of money as bribery. None of the positions in GB has been filled on pure merit. They have exterminated the merit and have encouraged incompetency, enticement and all other evils. They have recruited fake degree holders, Shepherds, madrasa certificate holders, matric certificate holders and even some of the illiterate people who had applied for the post of door keepers have been appointed as teachers. This is what blemish people have been doing with education department for the last five years. The so called education minister along with other corrupt stake holders had taken three lac rupees from every individual as bribery. The students who have completed their education from prestigious universities are wandering in bazaar while holding their degrees in their arms in search of jobs. This is the situation of education, how can a nation move forward if shepherds go to teach and degree holders loiter outside the educational institutions with great disappointment. In such circumstances the people are no more ready to trust these puppets. It has now become general opinion that the educated people along with their family ask such sort of questions like, why we educate our children? What is the purpose of education? This has created obfuscation among the poor masses to a greater ambit. They are of the opinion that the positions in every department have already been allocated for elite families, ministers, and other stake holders. Favoritism, cronyism, bribery, political pressure, religious pressure in favor of only their dear ones is at the climax. Poor people have no one to recommend (sifaresh) them. This attitude has created frustration among the youth and this can lead them towards extremism which is not in favor of the region.
The story of power sector is no more different. The power sector has so badly been affected that despite GB being the hub for cheapest source of hydel-power generation is still unable to provide light to small population. It is estimated that more than 50,000MWs of electricity can be produced from the waters of GB, but we have hardly managed 50MWs of electricity so far. 20 hours power breakage is a gag with the people. This issue will remain unresolved as I expect no protesting voices arising from the slumbered masses around on such a burning issue. Billion of rupees have been embezzled in the name of new projects which have never been completed.
The annual budget of GB, already not sufficient for the development is being robbed in the name of internal security annually. GB has its own police, scouts, elite force they are well-trained and capable enough to control and handle any situation. But the deployment of FC and Rangers in our region is out of question. Their presence has only worsened the situation and they have done nothing remarkable to restore peace in the region. They get handsome amount in the form of allowance from the budget of GB. On the other hand our own forces are not being given any special allowance. There is no eternal enmity between the people of GB. The general public opinion is absolutely in favor of peace, tranquility and prosperity. Layman demands justice, equality, peace and other basic human rights. Time has changed so have the people. The unexploited hidden natural wealth has no common in any other part of the world. The income from sost dry port is greater than our annually allocated budget. We lag far behind in every sphere of life because of the policies of sluggish and puppet leaders. The incompetent leaders just dance around the fire without realizing the real grievances of the region. They only attend meetings with priminister and others for photo session. This is their attitude. Recently, government of Pakistan has initiated to curtail the subsidy on wheat slowly. People in different areas have pledged to show bitter and stubborn resistance until and unless the government’s decision is taken back. The circumference of demands shall be enlarged. Remember, pubic has power which can easily topple the GBLA. Government must realize all outstanding issues and take concrete steps to eradicate the evils and redress all policies regarding the region. The so called politicians, who have been in power for decades, have done nothing for the poor people; they have been using the religious and racial tickets for political gains. The condition of people in their respective regions is deplorable and they intentionally keep the masses aloof from education so that they could not prove detrimental to their vested interests in future. Therefore, they use such flawed tactics. Time has come to reject all these corrupt, dishonest and intellectually bankrupt people. Teach them a lesson because you have the real power in your hands.
Finally, it is high time to take steps to eliminate corruption from our society. Members of GBLA must adopt anti-corruption Acts so that anyone who is involved shall be dealt accordingly. A renowned scholar C.S Lewis opines that people are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. In case of GB it is totally true in its interpretation and meaning. It is also the onus of religious clerics and other educated people to teach ethics. Effective and sincere Government Administration makes anti-corruption mechanism stronger to produce better results. The poor people who have taught their children after shedding their blood and sweat are lamenting along with their children. The incompetents have been bestowed through back doors in every department. The so-called chief minister of GB along with his marionette cabinet is soon going to legalize the illegal appointments which would be a question mark in history. ALAS… how disappointing… People are not more ready to see it again in time to come. People have a lot of expectations that government will not brook any mismanagement in future and surely will ensure merit.
The contributor is based in Gilgit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org