Elections: Is there a hope for Gilgit-Baltistan?

Farman Ali Thara

The word elections is the most repeated aword in the print and electronic media of Gilgit-Baltistan GB) nowadays. The era of PPP government which was led by Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah had, finally, come to an end and  was replaced by a caretaker setup, with the mandate of conducting a free and fair election within the stipulated time period. This newly formed caretaker setup is nowadays seen active in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Whether the newly established care taker setup is fully competent to provide a safe environment for elections is an important question that needs to be asked? Or, in contrast, will this care taker setup merely serve as a tool in the feared process of rigging.

GB, having shared borders with China and Afghanistan, located at a very important geo-strategic confluence. The region’s economic important has increased manifolds in the wake of the Pak-China Economic Corridor. Despite of its importance, the Gilgit-Baltistan region is dependent on Islamabad for small and large decisions and resources. This sense of deprivation has intensified over the years with the rise of electronic and social media where disturbing questions are being asked about the region’s constitutional position, place within Pakistan and, most importantly, its future. The appointment of Barjees Tahir as the region’s governor despite of all the opposition has intensified these questions. People feel ensnared.

Many of these prolonged issues are related to the lack of effective leaders, chosen or imposed.

Lack of Good Governance

Good governance is rare throughout Pakistan but in case of GB it is very high, just like the lofty peaks. To elaborate this issue I will quote the example of Hunza Valley where my name is registered in the voter list. In Hunza from many years what I see is that there is no concept of nurturing good leadership, although Hunza has got very high literacy rate in Pakistan but despite of having high rates in literacy we are still ignorant when it comes to electing a leader.

It is a matter of concern for all of us especially for educated youth of Hunza. In the past elections are mostly cast on the basis of tribes and caste. Instead of analyzing the leadership qualities of a candidate, we opt for those who don’t know leadership at all. Many of our leaders, in the past, have even not been able to communicate effectively, either in Urdu or English. So, it’s us who bring the bad leaders in assemblies who even do not possess the skills to present the case of Gilgit-Baltistan at the national and international level.

There is dire need of changing the pitiable system of voting. Being young, we have to check and see the leadership quality of the leader before casting our vote and we have to stop voting in the name of tribes, religion and caste.

Fears of Rigging in Elections

Elections play a vital role in the solidification of democracy. But the scenario is different in case of GB, like many other parts of the country. Historically speaking, election of a GB government is highly influenced by the ruling party/government in the capital. Many voters in GB blindly believes that if there is PML (N) government in Federal capital, then obviously there will be government of PML (N) in GB and same for other political parties as well. How this perception is still there in the minds of voters in GB? The best answer for this question lies in the heading of this paragraph, i.e. rigging.

We all know that every political party in Government always tries hard to show its presence all over Pakistan and on the day of elections, government utilizes all available resources to win with huge margins to secure its majority in the GB Assembly. Announcements by key political, government, figures, selective disbursement of monies in different constituencies, promises and more promises are some of the tactics used to tilt the tides in the ruling party’s favor. A lot of these signs are already visible in the region. More clarity will come within this week after the expected visit of the Prime Minister.

Elections 2015 a New hope

Election in a democratic country is considered to be the harbinger of new hope for its people, because only through election can a nation eliminate the above mentioned impediments. Now, it’s our (GB’s) turn to bring change through the ballot paper. We are very close to electing our leaders and we can create hope by electing people who are capable of leading in the true sense of the word. .

Candidates from various political parties are nowadays vying to get tickets for contesting elections. It is interesting to see that many of the very active candidates have served in NGOs and INGOs. They are using social media to interact with the youth, instead of hitting the road and interacting with their voters.

The question arising in my mind is, can these NGO executives who have lived luxuriously off the donor’s money, be able to understand the issues of the common men? In case of Hunza, these sudden revolutionaries were completely silent when the region’s youth were wrongly being implicated in cases of treason and terrorism. They were silent when the people of Hunza were struggling to get an additional seat in the region’s assembly.

As a young man from Hunza, I will prefer to vote for a candidate who has guts to address the issues of youth and lead from the front, not from Facebook and LinkedIn.

In conclusion, I would like to request all the youth that please vote for a candidate who stands with you through thick and thin. Avoid those who are cheering you through facebook likes and posts. Don’t forget that upcoming elections can be a major cause of hope for all the residents of GB to do something for their homeland.

“Don’t forget that a ballot is stron

ger than a Bullet” 

The contributor is an HR Professional hailing from Hunza

Originally posted at GBVOTES.PK

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