I know life is not a bed of roses. I know life is not an easy cake to eat. I know life is a deck of thorns. I know life is more demanding and highly challenging. I know it is the second name of struggle. It is the metaphor of freedom and liberty which is yet to be defined by the slaves not by the masters. The 1st November, as usual, again comes to this unconstitutionally defined land with the same message it had brought 70 years back in our severely tarnished history which is rife with cruelties, injustices and prejudices. After 70 years, I am celebrating my day of the so-called independence in the same way a widow celebrates her marriage anniversary cloaked in a white coffin and shrouded by a gloomy fog of sorrow with eyes full of tears and lips pretending to give a fake smile to comfort her fatherless children. She remembers the needless interferences of her neighbors in her matters who never miss a single opportunity to make her realize that she has no guardian or protector. I know you have come to my point. But let me elaborate it. This analogy exactly defines the widowed land of GB which is ruled by all but cared by none. I mean Pakistan, China, India, America and sometimes Iran. Adding insult to the injury, the local rulers with no say of their own, reined and controlled from powers outside, are living in a state of euphoria for their titular positions. They are unable to validate their own powers constitutionally. The PM of Pakistan can dissolve the assembly at his own will.
I know some nationalist friends with their over-brimming emotions of nationalism and patriotism will not like my phrase of “widowed land” for their beautifully crowned virgin piece of land. I apologize for my harsh words. I love my land but I don’t like the way it is being ruled. It is a sacred place for me, it is my mother land and it is never a “widow” of Sadat Hussain Manto’s fiction. Though, it is his Toba Tek Sing with a number of prisoners who are in chains either physically, mentally or morally. Being a human of this planet, I have the right to speak for my land. Being a citizen of this civilized world, I have the right to protest peacefully and demand my fundamental rights from the usurpers. How it comes that a Pakistani parliamentarian who openly abuses an already vulnerable minority in the country who has jeweled the barren crown of Pakistan with a Nobel Laureate is given a free hand? How it comes that he openly defies the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which has convicted and executed a terrorist who has violated his oath by killing his own boss? Above all, the ousted prime minister and his troupe hardly miss any opportunity to question the role of Supreme Judiciary and Military Establishment, but they are still faithful citizens of the country.
Intriguingly, there is no National Action Plan or Cybercrime Bill to indict such people. Are not these the double standards of the country? Why they designate us traitors when we raise our voice for our basic rights? Why they put us behind bars for our legal demands? Why many innocent people are languishing in jails without any fair trial? In Kashmir, they stress the violations of human rights by the brutal Indian forces and demand for the right of self determination for Kashmirs. But why they don’t make a little effort to incorporate this region in the Constitution of the country? They can amend the constitution to make eligible a single person to lead a political party who has been declared liar and corrupt by the higher judiciary and the constitution of the land but the legal and constitutional demands of 20 Million people are deliberately ignored. What we want from Pakistan is possible for it to deliver. Instead of mainstreaming, the region is made more controversial by aligning it with Kashmir.
On this day of 1st November, just ask these questions to yourself and you will come to know about your own status. Despite enjoying a strategic location, GB has been neglected since the very beginning. Thanks to CPEC, GB once again came to limelight on international media. Recently, speaking of Gilgit Baltistan, Miss Asma Jahangir, an outspoken human rights activist and lawyer, in her lecture at Oxford University, opined;
“The youth there (GB) who are demanding to become part of Pakistan are the only people on earth being punished as insurgents for trying not to split away from their country but to join it”
So, the people of GB are punished for their patriotism and faithfulness to Pakistan. Every time the titular CM of GB comes with news to levy new taxes on the poor people. Every time the boys extend a message to the people that the land of GB is a golden bird for Pakistan but not its inhabitants. These events expose what lies behind the veneer. The people of GB are proud of their history. We know the way our forefathers have won independence for us. We know that the brave sons of this unknown land are fighting India from Siachen to Kashmir. We also know that this land sacrificed many sons in anti-terrorism operations in Pakistan from Swat to Waziristan. We also know that Nazir Sabir, Hasan Sadpara and Samina Baig are undisputed heroes of Pakistan. We also know K2, KKH, Shandoor and Sadpara Lake are undisputed picnic spots of Pakistan. But when it comes to the constitutional rights of GB, surprisingly, it doesn’t fall under the constitutional premises of Pakistan. Due to this callousness and ill behavior of the policy makers of Pakistan, people like Modi and Mattis raise questions about the status of GB just to foil the mega CPEC project.
It is direly needed to define the region constitutionally rather than making lame excuses and using delaying tactics to put the issue on the backburner, at least, for your own sake. This is not a pre-Westphalian world where the strongest were used to be the despotic rulers. It is the age of reason. States have to act under international regimes. People see Kurds and Catalonians fighting for their freedom and liberty. Italy also faces such dissent voices. Even Brexit saga cannot be ignored. In Pakistan, one can notice many such voices and of their ilk. Recently, the chief of ANP spoke out the miseries of his people and hinted at the formation of a new province in response to the blue eyed Punjab province. The feelings of Balochis and Sindhis are also there to be heard. All these voices remind me the KITNAY PAKISTAN of Kamlishwar. After all, all these anecdotes are mentioned here to remind the callous and corrupt leaders their poor leadership. In order to present a strong foreign policy particularly after Trump’s bashing of Pakistan while announcing his policy for South Asia, Pakistan needs to put its own house in order first. The governing authorities should pay a heed to the bursting civilized dissents in their country before they become uncivilized.
Truly, we ourselves are not loyal to our land. Both the voters and the elected candidates on both sides of the isle are insincere to their land. It is very unfortunate to see that a constitutional crisis is still brewing after the GBLA is about to complete its second term. This procrastination of the local legislators obviously questions their own credibility. It is also for the opposition parties in GBLA to discard their pusillanimous strategy of empty condemnations and take substantive steps to end the assault on the rights of their people. Collectively, instead of just praising the achievements of our forefathers, we should realize the fact that this torture chamber is not exactly the right place to discuss the achievements of our ancestors. For this jubilation, first we have to convert this torture cell into a free heaven. On this eve of independence, we should come up with a single voice to achieve our constitutional rights in a way the other civilized nations do. All fraternities- students, lawyers, teachers, bureaucrats and other masses-should pledge on this day to gift a constitutionally defined territory to their coming generations who would be able to play a healthy role in the progress and prosperity of Pakistan instead of fighting with Pakistan for their rights.
The contributor is an MPhil Scholar at GCU, Lahore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.