History can never be disloyal to the time; thus, we call it to be the greatest teacher. The history of GIlgit-Baltistan stands as a testimony of its people being oppressed, exploited, discriminated and deprived from the day of independence, even with more intensity and force in present time. To all this environment the response/reaction from the people of Gilgit-Baltistan has remained very conspicuous which will be discussed below.
Speaking about the response to any sort of crisis, Iqbal Ahmed; the incredible but forgotten Pakistani political scientist has argued that there could be possibly four different kinds of responses to any crisis at any level from individual to state.
The first one is that of restoration. In which People vehemently urge to being what they used to be. They glamorize and romanticize their past in shaping the next course of action. In other forms this kind of people can be identified as conservative and orthodox.
The second response deviates from the principle line of restorationists and manifests the idea that it is not possible to go back in time and scrounge the old cultural, social and political institutions, therefore we need to reconstruct over existing material reality by bringing changes in socio-political fabric, these are reformists or reconstructionalists. Reformists can be seen working under the ambit of various NJO’s, and MNC’S.
Revolutionarists make the third kind of response at the face of crisis. Revolutionarists advocate an overall new society on the principle of popular emancipation of human beings. They oppose the very foundation of the society. For instance, the wide gap between rich and poor. People in this category are often recognized as progressive, radical, left and Marxists.
Finally, the awfully beautiful response of existentialists. Their response reflects hopelessness and discouragement in the process of coming out from the crisis. Such people are least concern about bringing some institutional or communal change in the society. They sail on, passively, without any motivation and enthusiasm.
Analyzing the socio-political context of Gilgit-Baltistan and people’s response to it, I feel an addition to the aforementioned kinds of responses. Everybody can see that Gilgit-Baltistan is being treated as a client-colony but not everybody stands against this maltreatment not primarily because of the oppressive state apparatus but necessarily because of our own internal contradictions; we all want to be treated in lawful and respectable way, we all dislike being alienated from our inalienable rights but we have failed to negotiate on our differences, instead have learned to hate each other in the name of sect, language and region; resulting in the creation of apartheid walls in society which has ultimately made the exploitation of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to continue.
Acknowledging this bitter reality in relation to the crisis we are living in, I am convinced to say that we all have become opportunists. Our opportunistic response is evident from the fact that majority of people have very clear life ambitions; high profile job, beautiful wife/husband, a well decorated house, comfortable car and some cash money, saved in bank. This stream of thinking might work successfully to a personal level but in long run it lies as one major impediment in collective liberation of the region. History will not absolve such people for defying collective good of the society.
Having said this, I am not trying to be dismissive about those who are actively participating and putting efforts to unite people belonging to different sects and backgrounds as a prerequisite to fight the piling political, social and economical crisis of Gilgit-Baltistan. They deserve to be appreciated and lauded, unlike the opportunists who get approval of their actions by self-administered pat on their back. Without wasting time, waiting for some miracle to happen, we need to re-view our ‘response’ to the crisis, which at least should not be opportunistic.
The contributor is studying political science at GC University, Lahore.