Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

Inaugural ceremony of “Pak-China Economic Corridor Council” marred by protests

Islamabad, April 8: Our region was presented to Pakistan on a platter 68 years ago with the hope that the rulers will improve the standards of our lives and develop our region. However, we have constantly been kept deprived by successive governments and our plights have been ignored. So far we are raising our voices against the injustices in a peaceful and civilized manner, but our concerns are falling on deaf ears. The Pak-China Economic Corridor project is unlikely to benefit the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Decisions are being made behind close doors and the biggest stakeholders of the project, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, are not being consulted.

These views were expressed by a visibly charged Wazir Baig, the speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.

Known for his blunt stances and fiery outbursts, even against his party leadership, Baig got angry when the organizers of the Pak-China Economic Corridor Council ignored representatives from the GB region. The representatives from GB were neither asked to share their views at the forum, nor was anyone from GB seated prominently on the stage to represent the region’s populace.

Continuing his speech, Wazir Baig said that the thousands of vehicles passing through the GB region will damage the delicate environment. He said that there’s no clarity on how exactly will the Gilgit-Baltistan region benefit from the mega project.

He said that some sectors are conspiring to deprive the GB region by shifting the project’s benefits elsewhere. The Speaker, who is popular as an upright and honest politician, said that the people of GB who have given their land for expansion of the KKH have not been compensated despite of the lapse of almost a decade.

Sensing the biased attitude of the organizers from the beginning, a large number of people from GB present in the audience had raised their voice and started protesting demanding respect for the leaders of GB. The protesters stood on their chairs and started shouting against the organizers for ignoring Gilgit-Baltistan. Under public pressure, the organizers seated the former Deputy Chief Executive of GB Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan at the stage after the noisy protests. He also addressed the gathering and urged the authorities to address the concerns of the people.

Later, again on the demand of the protesters, the organizers called Speaker Wazir Baig to address the forum. Baig started his speech by thanking the protesters for forcing the organizers to allow someone to present GB’s concerns.

The protests, shouting and exchange of hot words, was witnessed among others by the Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Chines Ambassador to Pakistan Sung Weidong, Baluchistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, PCECC Chairman Senator Talha Mahmood, many members of Parliament and representatives of civil society from all provinces.

Caretaker Provincial Minister Qalb-e-Ali, former minister Engineer Ismail, former Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhtar, Sarwar Shah, Haji Gulbar Khan, Zarmast Khan, Maulana Attaullah Shahab – member of the GB Council, Raja Shahbaz Khan, Dr. Muhammad Zaman (PTI leader) and a large number of other leaders and activists were present.

No clarity on how Gilgit-Baltistan will benefit

“The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are afraid that the trade with China will be monopolized by large investors from outside the region and they will not be able to play any significant role”, Abid Suhail, a university student said in Islamabad. He said that the trade on KKH is already controlled by people involved in smuggling and the locals are fearing a repeat of the same scenario in the future.

Critics say that by not consulting the region’s leadership and by not seeking confidence of the region’s people, the previous and current federal government have created doubts among the locals.

Gilgit-Baltistan not part of the decision making process 

“Unlike the rest of Pakistan, the people of GB are not represented in any constitutional forum in the country where policies are being made”, said a young activist, Ahmad Ali. He said that while other provinces and regions are represented in the parliament, the Council of Common Interest and the National Finance Commission, the people of GB are completely deprived of representation in these constitutional bodies, and thus they are unaware of the decisions being made for their region. He added that the outpouring of anger by senior leaders and youth at such an important forum is a reflection of deepening mistrust and indicative of gap between GB and Islamabad.

6 thoughts on “Inaugural ceremony of “Pak-China Economic Corridor Council” marred by protests

  1. I appreciate the protesters who let the high ups to realize that GB is the biggest but ignored stakeholder of Pak-China Economic Corridor.

  2. My feed back to Mr. Ashen Iqbal and his team is, please show this spirit and interest to provide constitutional right to GB too and develop long term tangible strategies for GB and public it to ensure GB will benefit from this trade corridor. It would be better if you call APC of GB and then arrange this programme and equally honours our leaders as well.( Whether these were remained figure heads or leaders in past) Participation and responsiveness are also strong pillars of good governance where you are ignoring it. Need to over view on your decisions for future too. Wazir baig has also a good name in GB due to his truthfulness and openess. He has always spoken in the interest of GB and country as well like Hafiz Hafizur Rehman, Inayetuulah shumali, Nawaz khan Naji and Afzel Shigri , Brig retd Hissamullah baig and Dr. Anjum as well.

    Thanks

    Ali Mehr
    Social Analyst
    GB

  3. Respected Senator,
    I had the opportunity of attending the launching ceremony for CPECC and listening to your vision and apparently visible views towards helping common citizens through this movement.
    Here was this valid question of who should be included as a consensus representative from GB?
    I want to draw your attention to the grass-root developments that are taking shape in the region in the form of LSO networks , WORKING ON THE BASIS OF self help TOWADS A BETTER AND HARMNIOUS FUTURE.
    A BRIEF THAT YOU CAN READ ON THIS LINK WILL PROVIDE A PRELIMINARY IDEA ABOUT THIS GRASS-ROOT NETWORK, WHICH YOU MAY INTEGRATE FOR COOPERATION RATHER THAN A SINGLE PERSON OR A SMALL GROUP OF AMBITIOUS PEOPLE.
    The link:
    http://hisamullahbeg.blogspot.com/2015/02/words-of-wisdom-from-guide.html

    Sincerely,
    Brig Hisamullah Beg, SI(M)
    Baltit, Hunza
    Mobile: 0345 5326255
    We have an ongoing discussion with the chairman, no need to create a hype.

  4. LSOs in Hunza/Nager will soon deliberate on this issue and also go beyond this forum to integrate everyone in GB. NO NEED TO MAKE POLITICAL MILEAGE.

  5. Better solution is establishment of KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY without external help rather than ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE ON KKH – the desire of dominant world powers.

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