By Awais Ali Khan
Six decades of voiceless presence, and non-participatory oblivion, from mainstream administrative and political framework needs to be reviewed now. When the country has went through a phase of its first successful democratic transition, there needs to be prioritization of possibility measures to change trends about issues being put in to lime light so far. During the phase of government transition, when whole of the country was discussing about upcoming government and elections, masses of Gilgit-Baltistan were putting a question for themselves, ‘what kind of citizens we are in a country where we can’t vote ?’ They see themselves at the state of six decades long oblivion, and still uncounted.
Bring representation-less in the parliament , policy making and high echelons of administrative sections, masses of Gilgit-Baltistan remain desperate, agitated and frustrated about their undecided fate .These elections have been very different from the past ones. Now social media, electronic and print media are quite active than ever before, so people got more connected, and became more concerned about pre-election processes . Across the country, a surge of sudden activism was observed, especially in youth. Most of them were ones’ who voted for first time and used their democratic right to decide their future political leadership.
Among this slot of activated youth there lied a ‘segment’ whose youth was just as motivated and energetic as all other youth. There lied no difference in them, in terms of competency, talent and political insight. But, unfortunately there came a ‘big difference’, when they were to exercise democratic right to vote. All others ‘voted’ and used their voice for themselves, and their country, in legitimate proportion. But the said ‘chunk’ was unable to be a part of any such process. It was just because they were born and raised in a region which is constitutionally orphan, historically non-revealed and contemporarily unrecognized, as a peculiar identity.
Strategic importance of the region, which should have been capitalized, not only to empower indigenous people, but also to produce ripples of prosperity nationwide, has been a prime source of its stagnancy. Its strategic position has been a cause of its deprivation, remoteness and seclusion. It’s nexus to China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kashmir, makes it pivotal point in Asian region of ‘nuclear flash point’. It is corridor to access land locked Central-Asian-States .It is also bottle neck for future trans-boundary trade with China, and Central Asian States.
Blessed with glaciers, lakes and lofty mountains the land has a great capacity for generating enough tourism activity that can feed whole country for decades. The wild life and ecosystem carries significant value, being somewhat explored and protected by international institutes like WWF and IUCN, but large portion of it is yet to me managed and controlled. Mineral reservoir potential is also ignored section that can change fates of people country-wide.
Gifted with naturally uncountable blessings, region requires optimized utilization of its underlying capacity, which is possible by mass empowerment and mainstreaming people of region. In the midst of prevailing economic crisis of country, strategic potential of region can be well utilized for establishing, long-term trade corridors with China and Central Asian States and reviving tourism industry, for its prolific contribution in economy. Perpetuity of said outcomes depends on ‘indigenous mass empowerment’ of region by bringing them at par with other counterparts, removing obliviousness and sense of deprivation.
Awais Ali Khan is an undergraduate student in Department of City and Regional Planning, at University of Engineering and technology, Lahore. He can be reached at: email@example.com