It is a New Year and as it appears, it will not be enough to dance to the tune of “Hum Gilgit-Baltistan K hain” in the coming years.
During these cold, dark, long winter nights, one has to wonder if have we have gotten things right, or, if we are marching into future, blinded by history.
The politics of money, sex and crime has been a long running norm in this country, but lately there have been evidences of the same reaching places that we have always associated with words like “Heaven” And “Roof of the World”, and such and such. And in order to understand how it has come to this, one must turn inwards and understand how and where we stand as a society and what our attitudes are towards the larger questions of our existence and identity.
This article attempts to shine a beam on the “kinds of people” we may be divided into, with the hopes of starting a discussion. Let’s start the segmentation.
First, are the people in power (call them Ustad Ek) who have made sure each one of their family member(s), even the “angootha chaap ” ones become some sort of a “thikidar Ek” also pronounced as “Thikadaar Ek”. The Ustad Ek, who have gotten everything right, at least in their money making business, have either won hearts of the larger, more experienced beasts of the south, or, they have been employed to keep a balance of power, or, for that matter, to extract what is necessary, when necessary by powers uncontrollable by any of the Ustad Ek or the beasts.
One of the Ustad ek, recently said in a discussion at LUMS that the people of Pakistan need to make decisions within Pakistan. However, when asked if the decisions of Gilgit-Baltistan are made in Beijing, Islamabad, Jatti Umra or Gilgit, he greased up a bit, and clarified that the context of his observation was the dictatorial history of Pakistan. – Oh… Yeah… right…! I didn’t understand it the first time; thank you for clearing that up.
The Ustad Ek, however, remain the most powerful, and consequently most potent to do a lot better at this point in time. Some of them, like the one mentioned above know this, but hey, they deal with beasts and Ghosts.
What can the Ustad Ek get right?
First, the elephant in the room, called CPEC that has passed without knocking on the door. There has not been a single public announcement as to what projects, except for KKH, will be a part of CPEC. Thankfully, the Chinese ambassador respectfully mentioned building a great long, luxurious, NOTHING in Gilgit-Baltistan. Well, we get it don’t we? That region is too cold for them to handle. Baraf you see…
Despite the stagnation, and the cold, the following is what Ustad Ek must get right, among many other things.
- Save our Lives by saving the Environment first. An educated estimate will tell you that the traffic on KKH is going to increase by at least 500%, which is enough to make Mother Nature’s nose itchy.
- Ask Government of China, or their subsidiaries, to provide fastest Internet to each district of Gilgit-Baltistan. This alone can revolutionize our economy as we have plenty knowledge and skills to sell in international markets. Add to that the millions of rent money we can save by moving back home, and working on development there.
- Push the Government of China to invest in Hydro, Wind and Solar power production (I say this with all due awareness of our limitations and my limitations)
- Push for a state (not a State, but a state with an independent arrangement in terms of everything but Defense, foreign relations, Fiscal policy etc.) of Gilgit-Baltistan, and most importantly for an Independent Judiciary.
- Push for more scholarships to study in the best universities of China and Pakistan, specially, Mechanical, civil, and Electrical engineering that can help us get ready for the next big thing – electric car manufacturing, and harnessing solar power.
- Fund study of International Law (There is Zero understanding of position of Gilgit-Baltistan in the context of the greater Kashmir dispute), and not a single lawyer that I have come across knows why is it that we are still stuck with Kashmir. Perhaps, we can make an argument, but “if you never try, you’ll never know”
- Create a Think Tank to keep an eye on international events, and recommend policy measures. This can have a long lasting impact, if handled with merit, or else, it can be a suicide.
That was about the Ustad Ek.
Second comes the group that has always been there. Be it the dharnas on the KKH, or dharnas in front of the press clubs. These are the ones who, for the most part, are controlled by each other, or by nothing at all (Read it as going haywire). Let’s call them (Pagal Ek). Caution must be given as to some of them being controlled by “Ghosts”. The Pagal Ek keep dancing around, and try and tell the people something that actually makes sense, but the people are too busy collecting wood for the winters. As they say in Shina “ Garam soup ek bili to zindagi khush bili”. This group goes haywire, but they are going somewhere, though in the absence of a few things. What they need, on a serious note, is a sense of direction, an understanding of how International and Domestic Law works, and how can they use it to control the beasts. For instance, I talked to one of the leaders of the Pagal ek, and he had brilliant ideas of how to motivate youth, but had no understanding of what he wanted to achieve, except for Daghoang ek also called Aata (Flour).
Then comes the third group let’s call them (Bitan Ek). These people are literally looking up at the sky and dancing dreaming of revolutions and what not. They are mostly found in universities, colleges, and Chai khanas. I admit to being a part of the Bitan Ek group for a little while (I may still show some symptoms). This group has just realized that we are not a province; SURPRISE! And that we have no mention in the Constitution of Pakistan, and that we have no fixed part in the national wealth, and that we are run by an executive Order, which was ordered the same way a president orders a cup of Garam Cha (Chotay Ek garam cha laa de zara). The Bitan Ek, I heard, have become so suspicious that they have started to suspect their existence. This has made them go dance around drinking blood, asking for a Constitutional province, and when they finally get out of the “Shaman Zone”, they will fall down and realize, it was all just a dream. This is the group that needs a person to tell them how to get out of this mess, and, sorry to break it like this, IT IS NOT ME!
Fourth is the group that has enough money to survive and does not give a single Potato about the politics of North. They are the best suited to remain alive, healthy, out of prison, and out of any encounter with Ghosts. So long as them gora boys come over driving their fancy cars, these boys here are content with a cup here and a glass there.
The fifth group is the “King Ek” (read it as the intelligent ones). These are the people who know how the system works and they have been silently working on it. This group, even though, very effective in short term, will not be able to keep it up for too long, as the Ustad Ek may one day not like how things are, and shake them up a bit. These are the people who need to mobilize communities, and start a peaceful, meaningful discussion regarding the real possibilities ahead.
Finally, there is one group that needs recognition. I will call it (borrowing the term from brother and a friend Aleem Dad Khan), the “Grenade Ek”. The Grenade Ek are always ready to jump in and blow themselves up. The Grenade ek have many reasons to do so; Political, Political (Also called Religious), Political (Also called sectarian), and for fun (Some may call it political). The common ground for the grenade ek is a mix of Politics and Ignorance.
Remember however, that we are all grenades at some level.
Having said that, I hope you are not the part of the group that just nodded to everything I wrote, or the part of the group that had no clue of what I said.
P.S: We are not all bad, we have more good than “not that bad” to offer, and if you find this article interesting, we will revisit the Good we have sown soon. Also, I would like to acknowledge Cyril Almeida for his style of writing that tempted me to give it a try. Khuda Yaar.
The contributor is a fifth year Law and Policy student at LUMS. Follow him on twitter @rahimdadkhan