By Asif Ali Ashraf
Actually there isn’t a single question, but there are a number of linked questions with the same theme: the election in Gilgit Baltistan. Anyway, to make a long story short, it was the 1st day of May, the day to pay tribute to the achievements of workers. I signed into my Facebook account with the intention of observing posts and informative updated statuses about the deprived working class population of the world. I was expecting to dig up some realistic data about the labor union movement. Eight hour work days and the like were discussed, but I was unable to find anything relevant to Labor Day even after scrolling down my entire Facebook Home Page. It’s important to mention here that 90 percent or more of my Facebook friends added with me are GBians. I cannot speak to the international or even national poor response on social media about Labor Day, but I can say straight up that the response of GBians was worse than poor. Instead, the question I am referring to was the most liked, commented on, and shared post of that day. Although they have been there for some time now, the number of posts relating to the election question rose soon after the announcement of GBLA Election 2015.
The following day, I was on bed rest due to some health problems. I received a number of calls from friends and family asking about my health. However, the election issue was the very next question put to me. It was asked and sent to me in different ways but always the same election themed question. I refused to answer anyone, saying I needed time to formulate an answer.
From that point on, I experienced much the same election themed questions and discussion wherever I went. Yesterday I decided to visit a friend. Coincidentally, I found some other friends and an acquaintance at his residence. While taking tea, the topic started again. I was asked the same question by a young PTI supporter, ‘Who are you supporting in the upcoming election of GB?’ I remained silent, as usual, and asked the same question in response. He replied he will support whoever is nominated by PTI. I asked for more explanation. He said, “I am voting for and supporting Imran Khan because not voting or supporting Imran Khan would be the same as if your house was burning and someone was trying to save you, your family, and your house but you are not allowing him to do it. In addition, PTI is the emerging and best democratic party in Pakistan. We can only expect real change in GB from PTI etc. etc. Then another person interrupted and said, no the best party across the country was PMLN. The ruling party of Pakistan, and he would cast his vote for the PLMN candidate. I asked him for further explanation. He said that the party had good economic policies. The Punjab had already been enjoying projects like metro bus etc. and he was sure that the economy of GB could only be changed by PMLN. The third person interrupted and declared all the parties and leaders futile except APML and the chief of APML Pervez Musharaf. He said, by way of explanation, that Musharaf was the only person who had sympathy for the ignored and deprived people of GB. There were some more people got involved and who praised some other federalist parties and leaders. The questions asked were like who to support, how to support, and why to support. I remained silent till the end because I know that the election or the products of this election cannot bring real change in GB. The lawmaking power of the assembly is for the dogs. Furthermore, the existence of federalists in the region is unlawful as per UNCIP resolutions. People of the region are occupied with selling pipe dreams. Instead of wasting our time on an election in which nothing is going to change substantially, it would make more sense to give our attention to more productive issues, such as how to engage our next round of elected leaders in an integrative leadership model to begin the real change process for GB.