Sat. Dec 5th, 2020

Gilgit-Baltistan: Diversity and Development

Khalid Jan Bari

Usually, while elaborating the issues of Gilgit-Baltistan, related to various important necessities of the region- the most important issues of the population to care for i.e. poverty eradication, inequality, education, health, basic needs and quality of life; are not given utmost importance or treated as low priority. These important issues not only deserve attention but due action by the civil society organizations and populace in time. As anticipated, Gilgit-Baltistan has a huge opportunity of economic growth due to its strategic location as well as geography. The natural resource management in Gilgit-Baltistan can be developed and used wisely for the needs and development of the inhabitants on sustainable basis to address the issue of significance i.e. human development.

Giglit-Baltistan not only encompasses a rich diversity of natural resources but also has a profound diversity of indigenous, societal, linguistic and cultural blend.  As the article three of UNESCO universal declaration on cultural diversity states that “Cultural diversity widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.”1. Furthermore, Katherine W. Philips claims that “[diversity] encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving.” 2 Thus, the diversity of G-B must not be regarded as a difficulty but instead a gift and blessing with regards to enhancing the socio-economic development of the region. The diversity dynamic and insights must be channeled and incorporated into the development context for the region.

Historically, Gilgit-Baltistan over the past decades has witnessed a swift development3 not only in thematic areas of economy, education, health and basic needs of the demography but also along the communications sector. Furthermore, though the results have been marvelous but more efforts need to be done to cater to the demands and needs of growing population and increasing strain on the natural resources such as deforestation etc. Aside from natural resources the region has a prospective reserve of educated and skilled youth that raises a hope for better future in terms of human development. The majority of the masses of G-B that reside and survive in a harsh environments with less basic needs of life, livelihood, food insecurity, lack of education and health facilities and any income to provide quality living environment for their households4.

As the 2014 Human Development Report notes that “reducing vulnerability and building resilience are essential for sustainable human development” 5 as the vulnerability could reverse the development made so far. Thus, there is a need for sustainable development approach and policy/strategy, while planning and implementing development program in the region. As, the concept of sustainable development: states, that “the development that meets the need of the present without compromising the needs of the coming generations 6 i.e. to use the natural resources efficiently; “for socio-economic development along with protecting the environment” 7. The “Northern Areas Strategy for Sustainable Development”[1] 8formulated by the IUCN was a worthy initiative to provide a vision and strategies regarding sustainable development for Gilgit-Baltistan, region. As it affirmed in the NASSD that purpose of the strategy was “to provide a concise framework for action in four key thematic areas: governance; civil society; socio-economic development/ poverty alleviation; and natural resource management.”9 The said document was a major initiative regarding sustainable development strategic course for Gilgit-Baltistan.

Thus keeping into account the socio-economic development along concerns for the environment will not only enhance the management of development but will augment the interventions for long while. There is a need for revising and re-visioning of strategies to streamline and develop and a framework for sustainable development in Gilgit-Baltistan to provide human development and poverty eradication centric course of actions. The diversity aspects must be incorporated and given due consideration with regards to equity and equal participation in the development. The reforms along with pro-poor/vulnerable centric policies with defined strategies and framework for sustainable development in Gilgit-Baltistan: needs to be devised keeping in view and planning for at least two decades into the future. Furthermore, a policy/research institution can be established at G-B level that could in consultation with all the stakeholders i.e. civil society, national and International organizations: formulate sustainable development policy framework for G-B and provide strategy advice regarding development.

The demography and diversity of Gilgit-Baltistan must be unified to address the issues of poverty and inaccessibility to basic needs of life. The inhabitants of G-B need to set aside differences of caste, creed, language, and culture: and transcend to create a peaceful environment that provides equal opportunities and addresses the pressing issues of poverty and sufferings in the region. The coming generations of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve to be given with a developed and peaceful Gilgit-Baltistan that flourishes harmony, peace, sustainable development and contributes to the development of the whole country and economy. 

REFERENCE

  1. UNESCO: Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001, Nov 2) Retrieved from [http://portal.unesco.org/en/]
  2. Philips W. Katherine: (2014, Sep. 16) How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article. Date [17/03/2015]
  3. 3. IUCN: (2003) Northern Areas: Strategy for Sustainable Development Retrieved from [http://iucn.org/] Date [17/03/2015]
  4. IUCN: (2003) Northern Areas: Strategy for Sustainable Development Retrieved from [http://iucn.org/]
  5. Our Common Future: Report of the world commission on Environment and Development. Retrieved from website [http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf] Date [17/03/2015]
  6. UNDP, (2014) Human Development Report: Sustaining Human Progress. Retrieved from [http://hdr.undp.org/en] Date [17/03/2015]
  7. 7. Our Common Future: Report of the world commission on Environment and Development. Retrieved from website [http://www.un-documents.net/our-common-future.pdf] Date [17/03/2015]
  8. 8. IUCN: (2003) Northern Areas: Strategy for Sustainable Development Retrieved from [http://iucn.org/] Date [17/03/2015]
  9. IUCN: (2003) Northern Areas: Strategy for Sustainable Development Retrieved from [http://iucn.org/]

 The contributor can be reached at khalidjanbari@gmail.com

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