Protests have erupted in Gilgit-Baltistan over the appointment of the new Governor. The people in the region had defeated the Dogra army and voluntarily decided to make it a part of Pakistan. Their aspirations for equal status with the rest of the country were not fulfilled for a long time. They had to struggle hard to get whatever rights they now possess. The area was allowed to remain under the Political Agent who acted as the chief executive as well as the sole judge till 1974. There were no elections on party basis till 1993. The GB Empowerment and Self-governance Order 2009 brought into existence an elected assembly for the first time. Gilgit-Baltistan is still deprived of a provincial status and of representation in the National Assembly and Senate. There is a deep sense of deprivation in the region.
There is a growing recognition in Pakistan for greater provincial autonomy and the need to respond sensitively to the peculiarities of the provinces. This explains where despite there being no constitutional bar, the Governor and Chief Minister in Sindh and Balochistan are not appointed from the same ethnic community simultaneously. In Gilgit-Baltistan people want the Governor and Chief Minister to belong to the region. Ignoring the sentiment has caused widespread resentment and led to protests across the region. Two major political parties i.e., the PPP and PTI have strongly condemned the decision to impose a non-GB resident on the region.
The appointment violates the spirit if not the letter of Article 101 of the Constitution which stipulates that “a person to be appointed governor has to be a registered voter and permanent resident of the province”. At a time when the country is fighting an existential battle, it is highly inadvisable to take a major decision of the type arbitrarily. Polls in Gilgit-Baltistan are due last week of May. The Prime Minister has already appointed a caretaker setup of his own choice. The change of Governor at this juncture has therefore led to allegations of creating conditions for pre-poll rigging. PAKISTAN TODAY EDITORIAL