By Ismat Abbas
The picture appears to be gloomy when Pakistan is compared with the rest of the South Asian countries in terms of development and it equally holds true when Gilgit-Baltistan is compared with the rest of Pakistan. Perched at the top of the literacy rate ranking on the national level, Gilgit Baltistan is devoid of any professional institutions except Karakuram International University, the only higher education institution in the region. It is a bigger credit on the part of the people who make their way towards far flung areas to complete their education. It means that there is no wanting of human resource. But there is always an awaiting disappointment on the part of those who ponder about the system for its utilization. The scholarship has always been mourning about the development of human resource but the question arises here is as to whether the human resource is being utilized optimally? As ill luck would have it, the answer is always in negative. Because those who have the say in the Governmental sector or those who have influence in this regard, grab the power to keep the employment in their own nefarious hands. Meritocratic appointments have become an impossible dream to be realized. That is why the greater percentage of the polished gems of this area, owing to sheer disappointment, makes its way towards the developed world and extends its invaluable services for the development of an alien nation.
Adding injury to insult, the political arena is also dominated by a coterie of dishonest, partially literate and inexperienced people, who make decisions on part of the people of GB. It is democratically healthy that people from all walks of life should have their say in the decisions which are ultimately going to have an impact on them. But the system should not be this much helpless to incorporate a person who has never had any sort of political exposure in terms of qualification and practice. It obviously seems absurd that a contractor, a driver or a tailor, grabs a seat in the legislative assembly. Tough it seems holistic but what about the output they are ought to put forward? Can their representation be fruitful for the rest of people or can they, for that matter, device sustainable and precise decisions for the betterment of the area? Can they secure the legal identity of GB? Although the government has taken this move to make GB as the fifth province but what about the persistent incompetence to administer the area? GB was heroically liberated from the tentacles of the despotic Dogra regime but what about its fate? It still stands at the very point when it was liberated. So what is all that contributes towards this backwardness? The conditions at hand present a vivid picture that if the current situations linger towards the future, the pace of progress is going to be snail paced with an ambiguous identity.
What the doctor ordered in such situation is that literate and knowledgeable youth should be making their way towards politics. The politics should not be the magic wand of certain groups who have monopolized it. It should be more focused on personal credentials and qualification of the persons who acquire such a responsible institution’s membership. A more rational approach can include that after the popular support of the people, the politicians should also qualify a written and oratory exam which proves their capability to hold the job. They should submit their policies and rhetoric which can be useful for the betterment of the area. And last but not the least, instead of simply equipping the politicians with powers as soon as they qualify the election, they should first be equipped with necessary knowledge and training.
The identity crises, brain drain issues and development problems are all interrelated and can be eradicated by better education facilities in the area, greater job opportunities and selection of people who represent people at large with their capabilities. People should be made aware of the worth of their vote and the impact that it has in their lives. Because, so far it is due to one of the pillars of the state, the legislature, is dysfunctional that is why the region is suffering from unnecessary problems.
Unless and until the status quo is changed and tangible efforts are realized, the politicians will keep on dancing to the tunes of their dishonesty and inability, and people will keep on languishing with compromised progress and development at the hands of the politicians, which is of course not the destiny of this blessed region. Like it was liberated from the Dogra, the people now are ought to liberate it from incompetence and unjust practices. This is one of the required ways to make the area to be legally identified and truly developed.
Ismat Abbas is a freelance writer. She hails from district Astore, Gilgit-Baltistan