Islamabad, October 26: Not only have the people of Gilgit-Baltistan been suffering due to oppression, they have also been cheated. The region is not represented in any constitutional institution of the country and oppressive rules are being extended there. The Gilgit-Baltstan Council has met only once during the last four years and the Prime Minister has failed to fulfil his duties.
These views were expressed by speakers at the launching ceremony of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s report, titled “Caught in a new great game”, based on observations of a fact-finding mission sent to the region early this year.
The issue of Baba Jan and his companion’s life imprisonment was discussed at length during the report launch. Senator Farhat said that he will take up the issue of registration of cases under article 124 against 9 human rights defenders recently.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the Gilgit-Baltistan region has been deprived of fundamental rights. He, however, said that efforts are underway to amend the 2009 executive order under which the Gilgit-Baltistan Council and the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly were formed. The amendments, he said, would give more powers to the regional government.
He said that a revised and enhanced version of the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 will be prepared within 6 to 8 weeks. He urged the people present to make recommendations for improving it further.
Senator Farhat, who recently visited the GB region along with other senators, said that Gilgit-Baltistan is vital for the security, economy and foreign policy of Pakistan.
HRCP’s Hussain Naqi said that powerful forces are maneuvering to change demographic composition of the region. “They are not ready to empower the Shia dominated region”, he said, referring to the civil and military bureaucracy dominating the national policy apparatus.
The HRCP has made some important recommendations about changing the attitude of the federal government towards Gilgit-Baltistan’s issues. The recommendations include, giving more powers to the region’s elected representatives, giving representation to the region in important national institutions, like NFC, National Economic Commission, Council of Common Interest and the national parliament.
Speakers also said that the region’s populace has been faced with a situation of statelessness, despite of being governed by Pakistan. They said that feeling of statelessness and oppression are not in the interest of Pakistan.
Issues faced by women, the differently-able (special) people have also been highlighted. However, some participants pointed out that the issues of women have not been covered significantly. The issues of youth have also been neglected by the fact finding mission.
Recommendations have also been made to create a more robust judicial system in the region. Participants highlighted the need for creation of constitutional court in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Barrister Saif of MQM said that his party has always stood for the rights of the people of GB. He said that MQM will continue supporting the people of the region in their efforts for getting constitutional rights.
The activists and intellectuals and media men raised various issues related to the Gilgit-Blatistan region and made some proposals for resolving issues to the region’s constitutional and national identity. Issues of climate change, environment, mega projects, particularly of issues being faced by the people affected by the Diamer Bhasha Dam, were also raised.