Another unconstitutional step by Islamabad

By Dj Mathal

Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafeez Hafizur Rehman told a meeting of the parliamentary group that the ruling PML-N wants to give a constitutional package to the people of the region after taking all the stakeholders on board. In this regard, the PML-N has convened an all parties’ conference on November 20 in which different aspects of the constitutional package would be discussed. He said that all the political and religious parties including the nationalists would be invited to the APC.

On this occasion, the chief minister came down hard on the previous government of the PPP and said the PPP introduced the self-governance and autonomy order of 2009 without consulting even the main political parties of Gilgit-Baltistan and forced the system on the area. He said the PML-N was a national political party and would never take any decision regarding the constitutional future of Gilgit-Baltistan without taking the people of the region into confidence.

All the claims and proposals of the government, both federal and the provincial, and the federalist political parties, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan know very well that the PML-N and the federalists are groping in the dark as regard to the constitutional future and the status of Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a disputed territory on the agenda of the United nations (UN). Does the chief minister sincerely ants that Gilgit-Baltistan should get autonomy and political and financial independence and the indigenous people are given their political rights? But whatever his intentions, it is not in his capacity and control to get what he wants. He is seems jumping into the sky and claiming that he would be taking all the stakeholders into confidence but the question is does Islamabad wants to given to Gilgit-Baltistan what its people have been asking for and what they deserve to get under the international laws.

Before coming up with any package, the stakeholders should be taken into custody so that the opinions of the indigenous people can be ascertained ie what they want and what should be done to allay their fears and provide them their basic rights. It is also hoped that the chief minister would not go for the likes and dislikes.

In this regard, the UN resolutions and the perspective at the international level should be the guiding principles to resolve the issue of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. But where does Pakistan and its intentions to give packages after packages fit into the world of the issue. It is beyond anybody’s comprehension why Pakistan comes up with the claim of giving rights to the people as an alternative to resolve the issue and what is Islamabad’s locus standi in this matter.

Under the UN laws, the disputed territories the world over have been given rights that are sufficient for human dignity in the modern world. But look at the double standard of Islamabad which has always completely ignored the UN laws and charter as regard to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and considers the area as its own territory and proudly claims of giving the area people facilities. In this process, 68 years have already passed and nobody knows how many more years Pakistan would be keeping the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as subjugated and on empty promises.

It is also a fact that during the coming days and years the geo-political significance of Gilgit-Baltistan would be increasing in the wake of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the recent decision to link Khujerab with the Central Asian states by the construction of another highway. But is also strange that on the one hand Pakistan is taking such far-reaching and  important decisions to launch international mega projects in the area and on the other, still adopts delaying tactics to give the indigenous people of Gilgit-Baltistan their due rights.

The demand of the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan is very simple and realistic. Until the issue of Kashmir is resolved, the people should be given such a system of governance I which they can be able to freely manage their affairs and utilize their resources on their own without any interference from outside. This can only be done through an agreement between Gilgit and Islamabad.

The useless and worthless committee that Nawaz Sharif has formed has so far held only one unproductive session and there are no hopes that it would be getting any tangible and meaningful results in the future. As has been in other such cases, sometimes the head of the committee, Sartaj Aziz would be away, sometimes our chief minister would be absent and sometimes someone else would be skipping the meetings ad at the end of the day, the file would be sent to the prime minister office where it would be rotting and getting dust forever. In the meantime, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would be living as subjugated and without their rights as they have been for the last over six and a half decades.

But there is golden chance up there in the city of Gilgit for the political leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan. They should come out clean and neat and express their opinions keeping in view the sentiments and aspirations of the people and for the betterment of the coming generations. They should not become a spokesman or sympathizer of any political or religious party but speak the truth and advocate for the rights of the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan. This is the only way out of the mess in which the people of the region have been for the last 68 years. if our leaders failed this time, the future generations would remain in a perpetual slavery and there would be no way out of the quagmire.

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