A picture of a caricatured elephant, manifesting provinces that are going to benefit economically from the CPEC project has gone viral on the social media. It is very ironic to note that Gilgit-Baltistan, which is the gateway of CPEC, can’t be seen even in the dung of the caricatured elephant, while Punjab, which is relatively the most developed province of the country, has been presented as the biggest beneficiary.
This picture invoked a feeling of dejection and alienation in me, and I was impelled to rethink my identity as a Pakistani. To my discomfort, I started reading the history of Gilgit-Baltistan, and in the middle, I stopped and started wondering, if GB got independence from Dogra Raj, on 1st November 1947, then how did I become a Pakistani? I mean, what is the legal source to claim the Pakistani identity?
In search of the answer I further read and found that there had been a “Karachi agreement” which is admired by the crude thinkers; proclaiming that the esteemed old people of the region (who also fought the war against Dogra Raj) acceded to Pakistan unconditionally; because of the fact that Pakistan was majorly populated with adherents of Islam, and so was GB, hence the good fate of GB was seen within a greater Muslim nation, i.e. Pakistan. And probably this is how they conform being Pakistanis.
Anyhow, the argument of unconditional accession to Pakistan on the basis of Muslim brotherhood is falsified ample times, by the fact that on April 28, 1949 no person from Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the Karachi agreement, (which gave the region of GB in control of Pakistan). Thus willingness of the people of GB couldn’t be acquired. The agreement was signed by the then AJK President Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, Muslim Conference Supreme Head Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas and central government’s minister without portfolio Mushtaq Hussain Gormani, where they apart from other decisions decided that GB should be given under the direct control of Pakistan. Then, came the UN resolution, on April 28, 1949 which declared GB as a disputed region along with Kashmir, making GB a permanent part of the Kashmir dispute.
Having agreed upon the UNCIP resolutions, aren’t we being maltreated? Isn’t Pakistan violating the UN resolution by influencing the region on various fronts, from tourism to natural resources? And even if, our independence heroes found it reliable to be a part of Pakistan; does it disqualify us from questioning the state’s policies? Will it become treacherous to ask for equal rights? Should we feel content to have an ID card, which can be used for travelling purpose only! Why are we projected as Pakistanis when we do something extraordinary? And then why are we made less Pakistanis, when it comes to exercising the right to vote?
All these questions have become redundant but not answered though.
Exceptional cases reveal norms which are employed through disciplinary powers of the state. Just like Baluchistan, and at some point of time KPK, Gilgit-Baltistan has also unveiled many norms to which state complies. We have closely witnessed the misplaced and overestimated norm of nationalism, centralization of power, silencing dissent, coercion and selective justice being propounded by the state. Before signing the largest and historical economic agreement with china under the title of CPEC, (china Pakistan economic corridor) aforementioned questions were of least concern to Pakistan and mere presidential orders sufficed in bringing content to both ends, but not now.
It is the prime time to claim for a proper political solution for all the problems of GB, as the gigantic CPEC is on its way, which is considered to be a game changer in the region of south Asia. After all, it solely depends on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, how they play their part in this game changer to get their share and in broader terms their relation with the state of Pakistan.