After instating Mir Ghazanfar Ali as the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, NA 6 Hunza will go to the polls again. The GBLA elections earlier this year witnessed some dramatic results as Baba Jan, an incarcerated leader of the Awami Workers Party dented a huge blow to PMLN, despite lacking any form of wherewithal. Baba Jan was able to secure 4600 votes against Mir Ghazanar Ali of PMLN, who had all the state machinery behind his back.
This is an eye brow raiser for the policy makers as well as the state machinery as Baba Jan is held for charges of felony against the state. Yet almost 5000 votes by an incarcerated leader should jolt the policy makers of GB, as NA 6 is yet to be polled again in less than 3 months.
As we know, PMLN was given mandate by people of Hunza after a de facto announcement by PM that Hunza would become a separate district. This was joyously looked upon by people, which led to ultimate victory of Mir Ghazanfar Ali. On the other hand Baba Jan was led only by rhetoric of justice and stand against unjust oppression of this area by federation. Baba Jan during the elections was hailed as the Bhagat Singh and Neslon mandela of GB. The philosophy of Baba Jan’s party was to stand against dynasty politics and system. His sacrifices for the victims of the Attabad lake disaster were lionized. This gave birth to an impetus to youth and galvanized scores of young men and women to stand for Baba Jan.
Although PMLN has kept its promise and granted status of separate district to Hunza, still many issues remain that need to be addressed like power crisis that has bedeviled Hunza since years. According to a source, load shedding in Hunza ranges from 24-36 hours which has immensely affected lives of its inhabitants. Sadly speaking past governments and current government till present has not addressed the socio-economic vows of this region. It should be disgraceful for the government that basic necessities like; sewage system and water schemes in many hamlets of Hunza are aided by NGOs rather than the state itself.
Praise be to the perseverance of the natives who have remained dormant and positive over the grave issues of this region.
Hunza borders with the neighboring friendly country China and will be the northern gate of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). The project has a net worth of over 50 billion USD and is expected to complete in less than a couple of decades. Earlier this year 52 MOUs had been signed between Islamabad and Beijing. Ironically GB was not even mentioned in a single MOU that has stirred grievances of the people of GB. The already constitutionally orphaned GB has been subjected to despondency over its constitutional status so excommunication in CPEC will further galvanize the populace of GB to believe that they will be further oppressed. This can have drastic effects in the future if not addressed in time as CPEC is like the aorta of Pakistan’s future economy.
People of GB shouldn’t be made feel grassed, rather they must be given their legitimate share and status, which is ONLY what they seek, nothing more nothing less. These people are as patriotic as any other citizen of this state but have been denied their basic rights since seven decades.
GB has immense geostrategic value; it borders with India, Afghanistan and China as well as Tajikistan (via Wakhan strip). It can connect Pakistan to 3 countries at a time and above all is home to giant glaciers and water bodies that feed the mighty Indus. Geostrategic and geopolitical factors are always vis-à-vis, which is the reason why stake of GB in CPEC cannot be over ruled whatsoever.
It is in benefit of Pakistan to grant constitutional rights to its expanse who had unconditionally acceded to this country. The current trends of political dynamics are favoring this shift due to some major reasons.
Pakistan aims to build Diamer-Bhasha dam that is supposed to be built on river Indus, which will grant an olive branch to the country’s faltering irrigation as well as feed the energy starved urban sector. And secondly Pakistan and China aim to complete CPEC worth 50 billion USD. World Bank is in no mood to invest billions of dollars in a region that till date disputed. India’s reluctance in the past against Diamer dam is an example. The people of GB are also afraid of their rights being sabotaged by KPK because KPK has also a claim over Diamer dam. This is the reason why a small segment of the GB is in no favor of Diamer dam.
CPEC will let Beijing gain access to Arabian Sea and give China more hegemony in the gulf. Beijing will not risk inundating its plans so Pakistan must and should make immediate plans to properly absorb GB in to her arms or else it will imperil Pakistan’s mega dreams.
Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be denied its stake in CPEC and Diamer Dam. This is the geographical part of Pakistan that is in a perpetual state of war for its constitutional rights since years. Time is ripe for Pakistan to accept GB as her legitimate part which will, for once and for all resolve the identity crisis of its inhabitants and usher in an era of development.