Political Agony of Gilgit-Baltistan

By Fida Hassan

Pages of history unfold very rare examples of marginalized territories within domain of a certain state. Basically, if I am not wrong, state in itself is an embodiment of individuals i.e. its people. A state is obliged to protect fundamental rights and provide basic necessities equally to every citizen. But, if anyone who had been to an area renowned for its mesmerizing beauty and abundant natural resources, and tried to hear the grievances these inhabitants express, for sure one will get motivation to edit few lines of existing history. That apparent example whose name is even unknown to most of the public is Gilgit-Baltistan. This formerly known Northern areas of Pakistan marked its position on the map of world by shackling the chains of slavery from external rulers, Dogra Raj, after three months of Pakistan independence in 1947. The dominating political chaos during that time period intrigued its people to annex this newly established territory with boundaries of Pakistan. This decision of demarcating boundaries with Pakistan has proved itself very sensitive and critical for the last three scores.

Being a part of Pakistan the Federal Government acted as a key operating force in this region for many years. Federal Government generously has proved its support by granting maximum of facilities like health, education, infrastructure and energy projects for economic and social development in this region. These all activities were being operated by establishing Union Councils and District Councils ruled by a chief Secretary- federal representative. These councilors and secretaries were sole cause for a higher trend of bureaucratic control dominated in these premises till 2008.

Fate of this region turned towards a brighter phase during 2008 when Peoples Party Pakistan won the general elections and took oath as the ruling party. A wave of this Democratic Party touched the soil of this region which instilled an overwhelming support for current ruling party. The greatest in return reward for sacrifices laid down for this party was, provision of a Provincial set up which was basically an illusion. Excited by this favor inhabitants of this area supported PPP to their fullest in Gilgit Baltistan. This courtesy helped the party to win maximum number of seats in GB Legislative assembly and their victory lead to a formation of new Provincial Government in this region. Almost everyone celebrated this gorgeous gift from that so called sympathetic party. Newly established ruling body even did not bother to gauge capabilities before appointing candidates for various offices rather distributed high profile posts blindly. If anybody is sincerely inclined, to measure the initiatives been taken for the last five years of provincial government, to facilitate and improve socio-economic conditions of that particular region, they will get nothing than disappointment. This party ended up their regime bashing the poor and region in a more miserable condition. But the most tragic part is the mechanism implemented in establishing a care taker government to conduct election for next tenure. I ask only one question, How rational is to appoint 11 care taker Ministers and a Governor for a region merely consisting of 7 districts? It is like invading the basic rights of people as if a person can amend and make new laws needed in constitution in no time. Furthermore when asked about upcoming elections, the ministers themselves did not have a single clue of strategies being adopted for free and fair elections. They just pocket their salaries and who cares. This political ignorance will incur a huge loss on fate of this region. The need of hour is analysis and questioning manifestos being presented by every competing candidate and use this priceless tool, vote, demanding provision of basic rights not mere materialistic facilities and illusionary power impartment.

The contributor is a student at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He belongs to Nagar Valley. Email: fidahassan850@gmail.com

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