Why is the nation divided on non-issues?
By DJ Mathal
Disunity and differences on petty issues can be seen as the major cause of enslavement of the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan. In almost all the national issues, we can see the people of the region at disarray. Even on the main constitutional issue, the people are not on the same page. If one section of society speaks in support of the constitutional rights the other considers it its main responsibility to oppose it tooth and nail.
The latest division among the people was seen on the appointment of an alien governor. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan seems, once again, divided into two groups. While the PML-N Gilgit-Baltistan considers the new governor, Chaudhry Birjees Tahir of the ruling party in Islamabad, as the savior of the people of the region the PPP has declared his appointment as a daylight robbery on the rights of the people of the region. It is tragic that the nation is at each other’s throat over a political figure who has no relation with them in any sense of the word. Birjees tahir was born in the Sangla hills of Punjab and spent his youth in that area. He perhaps never heard of the name of Gilgit-Baltistan till he joined politics in his own hometown. When he was named as the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, Birjees Tahir was an MNA and a federal minister. Today he descended on the political scene of Gilgit-Baltistan for a while and most of the indigenous people are ready to even sacrifice their lives for him. It is very unfortunate that we have failed to become a nation. Before this, we were divided on the lines of sectarianism so that we can never be able to raise a voice for our rights as a nation and be ruled by others. The national schism has become so deep that it may take decades to fill it if we started working for the national cause from today. There are also too many causes of frictions among the masses that can be exploited by our enemies such as ethnicity and regionalism.
Former chief minister Mehdi Shah during his five-year rule broke the record of corruption and destroyed each and every public sector department besides trampling merit in appointment of government officials. This also added fuel to the already tense sectarian divide endangering the peace of the whole region. Through Mehdi Shah also imported the policy of reconciliation from PPP leader and former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari he also pushed the PML-N and other opposition political parties to the wall during the five-year regime. As a result, the gulf between the PPP of Mehdi Shah and the PML-N led by Hafiz Hafizur Rehman widened to the point when the two leaders even disliked to come face to face. This tense relation and bickering has left its marks not only on the two parties but also on the whole nation.
Some circles of the view that the people of the region should demonstrate political maturity and wisdom and stop supporting all those parties who have been looking to the Pakistani political leadership based in Larkana and Raiwind for the resolution of every public issue in Gilgit-Baltistan. The politics in Gilgit-Baltistan should not have any link with any development in Pakistan. It is a fact that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory and its status has to be determined under the UN resolutions. The constitution of Pakistan cannot be enforced in the region. The laws that Pakistan have implemented or extended here are illegal under the UN resolutions. The people of the disputed area should have the right to manage their affairs on their own till the resolution of the dispute and the determination of the status of the region in accordance with the UN resolutions as promised by the international community. Keeping these facts in mind, the people of the region should launch a struggle to get their rights instead of being at loggerheads over petty issues. They should understand that our differences would only benefit those who have been usurping our rights. If we fail to promote unity, we will remain enslaves for decades to come and for this our future generations would not forgive us.
The contributor is a senior journalist from Gilgit-Baltistan.