By Aabid Hussain
Full of unanswered challenges, overburdened by ideological clichés and wrecked by ambitious power seekers, Gilgit Baltistan has been literally transformed into a laboratory for various constitutional experiments. The recent amendment in the GB Empowerment and Governance Order 2009 exactly portrays this constitutional experimentation. The motive of the incumbent government behind this amendment itself is full of ambiguities and queries. Before going towards the core issue, I would like to outline the functions and structure of GB Council in a terse manner. GB Council is an important body of governance and legislation in the legislative history of Pakistan which was devised in the light of Section 33of GB Empowerment and Governance Order 2009. It is elected by the 33 members of GB Legislative Assembly after the consultation with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Prime Minister himself is the chairman of the council and the governor is its vice chairman. It also includes chief minister of GB and the advisor to Kashmir and GB Affairs. To some extent, this council can be compared with the senate of Pakistan. Apparently, it has been given legislative authority in some 50 subjects but in true sense, it is more powerful than the so called GBLA. As in the recent past, we have seen that it is due to the callousness of the members of GB Council, the federal government has levied taxes in the region. Its importance becomes crystal clear when we look into the money earned or spent by some politicians in securing a seat in GB Council putting at stake their national interest and the confidence found in them by the people.
The recent elections of GB Council opened a new Pandora box. It has not only unveiled the greed and voracious attitude of our politicians, it has also determined the value of trust shown by the people in their leaders. Politics has become a game of money and the political tycoons never miss a single opportunity to avail themselves by this opportunity at any cost. For their material motives, they can compromise with the honor of their nation. The provincial government did its utmost to hamper this political business but failed. Some cunning politicians still managed to sell their votes for a huge amount of money. Above all, some politico-religious parties whose candidates proclaimed to be the harbingers of democracy and peace as well as the true guardians of their people excelled over others in selling their vote. So, the questions arise in my mind is that is the GB Council can still be called a democratic one. Secondly, four members have been selected from Baltistan region and the other two from Diamer and Ghizar. Gilgit and Hunza Nagar districts don’t have representation in the GB Council which imbalances the region. Better there would have been an equal representation from all regions of Gilgit Baltistan. This was about the structure of GB Council. Regarding its functions, it has to play the role of a democratic body. A democratic and constitutional body has to be the protector of the rights of the people. Now, it is a big a challenge for the council to truly represent GB in the ongoing political, economic and educational developments in Pakistan. All and sundry in the region are eyeing for their share in the CPEC project which is the most important right to them. But, being a CSS aspirant, the most important matter to me is not the CPEC or BASHA Dam, it’s the Provincial Management Services exams (Competitive Exams) which have not been announced for the unemployed youth of GB since 2011. After 2011, the Provincial Governments have been failed to open the doors of these services to their youth. In rest of the provinces particularly, in Punjab, these services are offered annually despite of already having 50% quota in CSS exams. Likewise, the inability of the government to provide scholarships for the students for higher education in universities of Pakistan is another proof of its educational negligence. It is an admitted fact that education is the panacea for all ills in any society and it has always been top priority of every society. Unfortunately, it has become a topic of least importance to our government. Pages can be written on the problems of youth in GB. If a sane person looks into the situation of Karakoram International University, the sole institution of GB, he can imagine the sincerity and loyalty of our politicians with the region. Instead of overhauling and improving the system, our politicians want to seal the university. Though, I am not a hyper critic of the government or any other institution, my heart bleeds when I compare the youth of GB with the youth of rest of Pakistan.
In a nutshell, it is direly needed to upgrade the educational standard of the people of GB which is one of their basic democratic and constitutional rights clearly outlined in the constitution of Pakistan. The youth of GB has pinned their hopes in the GB council which they believe that it will fight for their rights. It is totally illogical and complete failure of the government which has become unable to arrange a Competitive Exam for its youth since a long time. Concluding it all, the GB Council is expected to fulfill the demands of youth instead of keeping itself busy in political disputes and other controversies.