Gilgit - Baltistan

Constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan discussed at Bar Council meeting

The senior lawyers are addressing a press conference in Gilgit. Photo: Mon Digital
The senior lawyers are addressing a press conference in Gilgit. Photo: Mon Digital

Gilgit, September 10: (PR) An Extra-Ordinary Meeting of Gilgit Baltistan Bar Council was held at Gilgit presided by Mr. Shehbaz Khan Advocate Vice Chairman. The meeting thoroughly discussed various issues and unanimously resolved on each point separately including the issue of “Constitutional Status of Gilgit Baltistan”.

 The Meeting appreciated and lauded the sincere efforts of the Standing Committee of Senate on Human Rights for taking notice of Human Rights violation in GB with special reference to constitutional deprivation of the people of Gilgit Baltistan for the past several decades. Participants of the meeting thanked the Chairman, Afrasiab Khattak, and all members of the committee and showed their full support and assistance to the Senate Committee on the sensitive issue of denial of constitution rights to the people of Gilgit Baltistan since 67 years of liberation.

The participants of the emphasized that the Gilgit Baltistan is no doubt a Jugular Vein for Pakistan because of its geographical, strategical  & economical importance,  but the rulers   of Pakistan have not bothered to realized this fact and that they have not been treating the people and the region accordingly by bringing at par with the other provinces or AJK or even Indian Occupied J & K in terms of constitutional & political  rights. This, they said, is despite the fact that the UNCIP resolutions, to whom Pakistan is a “signatory” and is under obligation to give the people of Gilgit Baltistan a “Local Authority” as done in the cases of other parties to Kashmir

The meeting declared that the denial of fundamental   Rights guaranteed under a constitution to the People of Gilgit Baltistan since 1947 is not only a violation of UN’s  International Charter of Human Rights but also a deviation from the UNCIP Resolution on Kashmir dispute as well as disobeying of the decision and directions of the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan given in 1999. ( 1999 SCMR 1379).

The 72000 Sq Km area, was liberated and acceded to Pakistan by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan themselves but surprisingly the area is still undefined and being treated as “a  colony occupied and conquered  by the  Ministry of K &GB  having  exclusive  right to rule  through  remote controlled governing system by framing and issuing   Executive Orders in the shape of Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) , Legal Frame Work orders (LFO,s)  & Governance Orders  from time to time since.1947,

Participants of the meeting also said that the  elected bodies of NA Advisory Council, NAs  Council, NAs Legislative Assembly and now the GB Legislative Assembly have always been created from the embryo  of above mentioned executive orders, and as  a result the local representatives even could not get the powers to make any amendment in  the previous or present Governance Orders.

They also said that the GB Council, in which GB is only symbolically represented, is based in Islamabad and it is also a meaningless  institution, working as the fact of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, @safeguarding and catering  interest of the Ministry not the people of GB”, they said.

They also said that Gilgit Baltistan has been made a sacrificial goat in the name of so called Kashmir Dispute with a malafide intention of keeping the area and the people  under the clutches of bureaucratic system, depriving them of their basic fundamental rights.

The meeting pointed out  that  the current political and constitutional position of  actual parties to   Kashmir Dispute – AJK & Indian occupied J &K,  is entirely different as they are enjoying all kinds of constitutional and political rights since long.

 The AJK , which was liberated by the Pak Army with the help of Tribal Lashkar, is comparatively in a better position compared to GB,  having an “Act” based governing system at least since 1969 & 1974 although not having a constitutional status thereto.

At the same time, the  people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, have got special constitutional status and full representation in the Central Government under Article 370 of Indian Constitution  since 1948,  in addition to having  their own Jammu & Kashmir Constitution 1957 passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1957.

The meeting regretted to note that due to continuous mishandling of “affairs” of Gilgit Baltistan,  the situation here   has become very fragile and alarming. The sense of deprivation has reached to its maximum level. The time has come that the Parliament , the Supreme Court , the Political Government   & the Security Concerned Institutions of Pakistan should come forward  without wastage of time and take serious notice  of negative  impacts in GB due to  Ministry of K & GB Islamabad  deeds   since 67 years.

The people of Gilgit Baltistan are very much concern and aware of the historical existence  of the Pakistan  China Agreement made in 1963   wherein  2000 Sq Km of Gilgit Baltistan has been given to   P R of China in exchange of just 700 km. The people of GB have a right to question legitimacy of this act of Rulers to sign a pact about the territories of GB, if it is a disputed territory.  The people of Gilgit Baltistan  are justified to ask   question   that whether  giving 2000 sq km area of GB to China by the  GOP affected the Kashmir   stance of Pakistan on Kashmir Dispute ???  If not then how it will affect if the people of Gilgit Baltistan be given their fundamental rights to govern them selves through their chosen representatives guaranteed under a “constitution”  under the domain of Local Authority as committed by GOP with UNCIP??

The meeting emphasized that further denial of  political rights  guaranteed under a “Constitution”  to  the people of  Gilgit Baltistan  will not be in the larger interest of I. R of Pakistan having  crucial stratigical & economical interests in this  sensitive region. They warned that the dream of making Pakistan an Economical Tiger of Asia through Economic Corridor crossing 600 Km of GB will not become a reality until and unless the two million people of GB are not given their due constitutional, political, social and economical rights.

The meeting declared that the GB Bar Council being highest legal fraternity represented statutory Body of GB and its concerned institutions of  GB Supreme Appellate  Court Bar Association  &  GB High Court Bar Association , being actual stake holders in this context,  must be consulted while drafting and preparing any kind of proposal concerning legal and constitutional  status of the area.  Any  proposal lacking  input  of above stake holders will not be  accepted to the legal fraternity of GB.

However just to avoid delay in any expected  improvement in this regard, , the meeting demanded GOP to take following concrete steps without further delay:

  1. The Governing System must be guaranteed under a Constitution:

The past practice of Governing GB through Executive Orders must be thrown away by giving the people of GB  a governing system guaranteed under a  constitution  as directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.  The patron of   political governing system  in Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir prevailing  since 1948 & 1957  is  most suitable and viable  in this regard as the same will   not only cater stratigical interest of Pakistan  in this region  but also  redress   the prolong sense of deprivation of people of GB   as well  with out harming  principal stand of Pakistan on Kashmir Issue if the following steps taken b:

  1. Declaring the next coming general elections in GB for holding “Constituent Assembly”  and thereafter to  draft, table and pass    Constitution of GB accordingly.
  1. Making amendment in Constitution of Pakistan  by the Pakistani Parliament giving  the GB   a “Special Status”  & representation  in the constitutional institutions of Federation “provisionally”.
  1. Conversion of GB Governance Order 2009 into an  “ACT” after amendments 

The following  measures / amendments   be inserted in the GB Governance Order 2009  in the shape of a Bill and to be tabled  and passed before December 2014  by the present GB Legislative Assembly: 

Legislative Measures:

  1. A provision in the Act/Order be inserted declaring the forth coming elections in Gilgit Baltistan for a Constituent Assembly.
  1. Powers to make amendment in the Act/Order be given to GB Legislative Assembly.
  • The GB Legislative Assembly be upgraded as GB Assembly
  1. The local representation in the Gilgit Baltistan Council must  be   100%  as prevails in Indian Occupied J & K Legislative Council .
  1. The Role and Status of GB Council should be brought at par with the Senate having head quarters at Gilgit as done in occupied J & K.
  1. The main revenue generating subjects of Minerals, Forest, Hydro power and Tourism must   be under the domain of GB Assembly.

Judicial Measures: 

  • The nomenclature of the Present Apex Courts  & judges in Gilgit Baltistan be changed into GB Supreme Court & GB High Court and the Chief Justice & Justice subsequently
  • The number of Judges in GB  Supreme Appellate Court should be 05 and in GB High Court 07
  1. The system of appointment of judges in the Apex Courts must be brought at par with the system prevailing in Pakistan or AJK with a mandatory provision to get meaning full  consultation of  the concerned Chief  Justice before making any appointment by the Executive.

Administrative Measures: 

  1. The Fifth Schedule of Governance Order 2009 heading  Vacancy Sharing Formula be thrown away.
  1. Instead of GB Council, the Chief Minister be consulted during posting of IGP and Chief Secretary from Federation.

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One Comment

  1. All the well wishers of GB appreciate the efforts of Bar council regarding constitutional rights. It is expected with so called leaders and parties heads to play their role to get the constitutional right through rationalization and mutual coordination. GBIANS recall the services of zulfiqar ali bhuto , Muhterima benazir bhutoo, Pervaz musharef and nawaz sharif as they have done tremendous development work in Gb. Now the main issue is constitutional right. Any Govt that would grant constitutional right would be recorded in the history of GB like above mentioned leaders. We also appreciate the efforts of Senate committee as well as they have sensitized the Government.

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