HRCP calls for integration of Gilgit-Baltistan, extension of all fundamental rights to the region

Islamabad: The Human Rights Commissioner of Pakistan, a right based independent organisation, has called for the integration of Giglit-Batlistan in the federation of Pakistan, and for extension of all fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution to the region. “Integration of the region is necessary for resolution of almost all the administrative and political issues of the people of the region”. The recommendation is part of a report which maintains that the region’s people are unanimous in demanding the integrationof Gilgit-Batlistan in Pakistan.

The report titled “Gilgit-Baltistan People’s Aspiration for Identity, Integration and Autonomy, was launched by renowned lawyer and former head of HRCP, Asma Jahangir, in the federal capital today. It is based on the observations made during a fact-finding mission’s visit of Gilgit-Baltistan last year. A broad range of social, political and administrative stakeholders have been consulted for compilation of the report, says HRCP.

Rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Attabad and surrounding disaster hit areas has also been recommended in the region. The case of Baba Jan’s imprisonment along with 11 other activists, has been described in detail in the report.

The HRCP also recommends appointment of local judges in the courts, empowerment of the judiciary, and taking the region’s populace into confidence vis-a-vis the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor related activities. Protection of the rights to land-ownership in the region has also been emphasized in the report.  Providing due shares to GB in the CPEC investment, and protecting the region’s interests is also recommended.

The report says that curbs on freedom of expression and access to information are causing frustration among the youth of the region. It also says that dozens of youth languish in the region’s jails for being vocal about the region’s political deprivation.

The report calls for monitoring and controlling of the powers enjoyed by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in the region, and for ending the alleged abuse of anti-terrorism laws (ATA and Schedule Four) against political activists and rights workers.

The HRCP has also recommended that the powers of the bureaucracy be reduced and more authorities be transferred to the local political leadership. Empowerment of the local elected forums and representatives is vital for the region’s development.

Keeping a check on sexual harassment against women at work place, and outside, and inclusion of women in decision-making process within and outside the assembly is also part of the recommendations made by the HRCP in its report.

Creation of an institution for the mentally challenged has also been recommended.

The HRCP report also calls for engaging the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan for betterment of the region by establishing more opportunities for education, training and learning in the region.

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