Wed. May 31st, 2023

Proposal of GB Lawyers Action Committee for Constitutional Status of Gilgit-Baltistan

By Shahbaz Khan

“Your Excellency,

Two Million people of Gilgit-Baltistan could not understand the mystery behind denial of  constitution based governing system in Gilgit Baltistan by the Federation of Pakistan even after a period of 68 years of self liberated Independent State of  I. R of Gilgit-Baltiistan,s voluntarily made accession and despite their continuous demands and struggle.

The colonial system in Gilgit Baltistan prevailing since 1947 under the authority of self framed and promulgated Executive Orders/ Ministerial SROs by the Ministry of K& GB  Islamabad, is no doubt  gross violation of International Charter of Human Rights & UNCIP Resolutions, wherein the Pakistan and India are under obligation to provide Local Authority based governing system to the parties to Kashmir Dispute. Refusal of giving fundamental rights to the people of GB   is a deliberate disobedience of the judgment of   Supreme Court of Pakistan   dated 28th May, 1999 (1999 SCMR 1379) as well wherein the Federation of Pakistan has been directed to ensure fundamental rights to the people of GB within 06 months to govern themselves through their chosen representatives and access to an independent judiciary GUARANTEED UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. But the Federation is determined to continue past practice of ruling GB through colonial governing system under  ministerial statutory orders as happening now under SRO No. 786 (1) 2009 namely  the GB (Empowerment & Self Governance ) Order  2009.

It is regretted to note here that actual parties to Kashmir Conflict that is, the Indian Occupied J & K,  and AJK,  are enjoying all kinds of democratic, legal and constitutional rights and special status since long but denial of constitutional rights to the people of GB since independence considering the same as Sacrifice Goat in the name and lame excuse of so called Kashmir Conflict to rule the area through colonial governing system of  promulgation of SROs framed by the officials of Ministry of K & GB Islamabad,  is highly regrettable as the same is not only an act of   discrimination and injustice  with the people of GB but also  a punishment for their sacrifices &  loyalty with Pakistan infect.

The people of Indian Occupied J & K are having dual constitutional governing systems since 1948 & 1957 guaranteed under Article 370 of Indian Constitution & Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir 1957, having full representation in all the constitutional forums of Union of India in addition to their own legislated constitutional State of Jammu & Kashmir. Moreover even the people of AJK are in a better position then that of GB as they are governed at least under an enactment namely AJK Interim Constitution Act 1974 legislated by their own elected representatives .

            Gilgit Baltistan is no doubt a Jugular Vein & Strategic Asset for Pakistan in respect of geographical, stratigical, economical, political and defense point of view. The dreaming of economical revolution in Pakistan and the adjoining region as a result of establishment of China Pakistan   Economic Corridor has become possible just because of Gilgit Baltistan being contiguous with China. But it is a matter of great concern that despite being Gateway and facing adverse effects of environmental issues of dust, smoke & noise of thousands of vehicles crossing from 600 km narrow valleys of GB as a result, none of the CPEC project for GB has been included in the Pak China 49 MOUs of 46 Billion USD proposed Projects signed between Pakistan and China recently. The legal fraternity of GB considers this issue as extremely important and has already showed its concerns and demanded Federation of Pakistan to resolve the most important issues of CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS & the SHARE OF GB in the benefits of this game changer CPEC project prior to go ahead for implementation. 

Keeping in view of present hopeless situation and Federation of Pakistan’s declared policy to link Gilgit Baltistan with Kashmir Dispute,  the GB Lawyers Conference was held at Gilgit recently wherein the representative bodies of Legal Fraternity unanimously resolved to demand Federation of Pakistan to end the 68 years continuous colonial system from GB at the earliest in the larger interest of Pakistan by  giving a political governing system in GB under the domain of Constitution of I. R of Pakistan , having same “status and rights” given to the people of  Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir by Indian Government under Article 370 of Indian Constitution in 1948 and  thereafter Jammu & Kashmir Constitution 1957 legislated by J & K Constituent Assembly elected in 1956 . The Legal Fraternity of GB considers the same governing system as most appropriate, suitable and viable for Gilgit Baltistan as well because of the following reasons:

  1. It will ensure stratigical, political & economical interest of Pakistan in this sensitive region without any harm to principal stand of Pakistan on Kashmir Issue.
  2. It will redress 68 years severe kind of sense of deprivation of people of GBregarding their fundamental rights  to govern themselves through their chosen representatives and access to an independent judiciary guaranteed by constitutions.

iii.                It will accommodate views and sentiments of all the three political thoughts prevailing in GB including those making the GB as constitutional province of Pakistan, secondly the group  linking the issue with Kashmir Conflict & thirdly the newly emerging school of thought seeking  the GB as an independent state.

  1. It will shut the mouth of Indian Government as well who did the same act with the Occupied J & K in 1948 & 1957.
  2. It will fulfill the directions & judgment of Supreme Court of Pakistan made on 28th May 1999 (1999 SCMR 1379) to ensure a governing and judicial system in GB guaranteed under the constitution.

It will be in the larger interest of Federation of Pakistan itself to settle this most sensitive issue at the earliest by making amendments in Constitution of Pakistan declaring Gilgit Baltistan at least, its Provisional Constitutional Unit till the settlement of Kashmir Dispute and give the people of GB representation in all Federal Constitutional Forums & other institutions as done by India in  case of  Occupied Jammu & Kashmir State in 1948 & 1957.

Thus it is demanded that the following amendments be proposed and recommended by the Federation of Pakistan/ Apex Constitutional Reforms Committee and implemented accordingly by tabling the same before the Parliament on emergency footings:

  1. Amendment in Article 1 (2) to include Gilgit Baltistan in the territories of Pakistan till decision of Kashmir Dispute.
  2. An additional Article 257-A be inserted in the Constitution by giving the Gilgit Baltistan a special Status as “Provisional Unit” having powers to legislate all subjects except Defense, Foreign Affairs, Communication, Finance & Currency being the Federal Subjects on the patron of Indian Occupied J&K given under Article 370 of Indian Constitution to give GB full representation in the Parliament & other constitutional forums in addition to  having its own Constitution framing and passing by their next elected Constituent Assembly .

iii.               Amendments in Articles 41, 51, 59, 175, by giving GB due representation in the National Assembly , Senate & Supreme Court of Pakistan

  1. Due representation in the CCI, NEC, NFC, ERSA etc like institutions and rights over Water and Hydro-electric power.
  2. Amendments in Article 175 of Part VII Chapter I to extend jurisdiction of Supreme Court of Pakistan to Gilgit Baltistan.
  1. The Ministry of K & GB Islamabad, having exclusive powers, be directed to make the following amendments in the GB (Empowerment & Self Governance) Order 2009 for onward tabling the same before the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly for endorsement and enactment as GB Governance Act 2015 till formulation of Constitution of Gilgit Baltistan:                       
  1. A provision in the Order be inserted declaring the next elections in Gilgit Baltistanshall be held for electing a Constituent Assembly” .
  2. Revival of State Subject Rules to protect property & citizenship rights of the people of GB be ensured.

iii.               Powers to make any further amendments in the Order/Act be given to the elected Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly.

  1. The subjects under Schedule III of Order 2009 & all other subjects covered under Concurrent List & Federal List of the Constitution of I. R of Pakistan be given under the purview of GB Legislative Assembly.
  2. The local representation in the Gilgit Baltistan Council must be100%   having its own elected chairman & deputy chairman having head quarters at Gilgit.
  3. The Role and Status of GB Council should be brought at par with the Legislative Kashmir Council of J & K having powers to endorse Bills passed by the Assembly.

vii.             The Revenue generating subjects of Hydropower, Minerals, Forest & Tourism be inserted in the Legislative List of GBLA.

viii.           The Fifth Schedule of Governance Order 2009 heading Vacancy Sharing Formula be removed.

  1. Instead of GB Council, the Chief Minister be consulted during posting of IGP and Chief Secretary from Federation.
  2. The nomenclature of the Present Superior Courts& Judges in Gilgit Baltistan be changed into GB Supreme Court & GB High Court and Chief Judge & Judges be declared as  Chief Justice & Justice subsequently.
  3. The number of Judges in GB Apex Court be increased to 05 and in GB Chief Court up to 07.

xii.             The appointment of judges in the Apex Courts must be brought at par with the system prevailing in Pakistan by constituting Judicial Commission having representation of GB Bar Council with a mandatory provision to get meaning full consultation of the concerned Chief Justice before making any appointment.

xiii.           Amendment be made on the patron of Constitution of IRP & AJK Interim Constitution Act 1974 in respect of appointment of judges  among the  “Residents of Gilgit Baltistan” only.

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