By Muhammad Panah
Gilgit-Baltistan is gradually becoming politically mature after the passage of almost seven decades. In the long transitional period of political maturity, we have finally been able to get the name Gigit-Baltistan for our region, instead of the Northern Areas. It seems, however, that political maturity in G.B has come very late. At the same time, political rights and freedom of expressions is being oppressed by the federal government using different tactics, because the region has no legal identity or status.
It is a fact that many countries have progressed all over the world in six decades (1948-2014) and now those countries are waiting to become super powers and welfare states. In the mean time, we are still politically and economically stagnant in our first step where we had stepped in 68 years ago.
In effective political practices in the region since 1974, when the princely states were dissolved, which has resulted in weakening of institutions and the social fabric. Even after devolution of power to the bureaucrats, and the public, the former rulers’ influences remain. They still govern the region in one way or the other. And, they have also been blocking common people from contesting elections. Ultimately, democratic essence has not flourished in the region.
The second cause of the political unawareness is that the populations are living in scattered valleys. Therefore unfavorable geographical conditions do not let people to come on one page to discuss the real issue of the region.
The third cause of disunity and tension is the policy of “divide and rule”. It is the tool for any government to apply those policies to create or enhance mutual distrust and tension among the citizen.
The forth and most challenging sector for GBians is the absence of real political representation at the regional or national level. There is no certain electoral process to contest election for G.B assembly except wealth; no other obligatory pros and cons are considered for political representation. The contractors, political title holders are elected who have no political will to represent at national and international level. They are only interested in loot and plunder of resources.
Once a non-political candidates win election, they became a representative of the federal government rather than their voters; they try to take federal government’s sympathy and desperately try to keep themselves in the good books of the bureaucrats and federal politicians. The incompetent leaderships does not raise voices for fundamental things which are the primarily duty of any representative.
It is the time to evolve leadership and attempt to reduce the leadership quality deficit through advocacy, training, awareness-raising and mentoring, coaching. Thousands of highly qualified youth educated in development and politic from well recognized national and international universities over the last many years. Now, it is their responsibility to take part in regional politics to get democratic autonomy.
In this regard civil society organizations can play vital role to educate social elites and activist to elect potential candidates in the upcoming election. It is important for all nationalist, human right organizations and progressive youth to take part in the mission to elect real political representative who represent their voters and get political right through democratic ways of demand.