Wed. Apr 14th, 2021

Definition of “citizen” in proposed GB Order 2018 creates confusions

Opposition parties across Gilgit-Baltistan have rejected the proposed order as a vague and unfulfilling document. Thousands are protesting in different parts of the region. Today, the opposition groups are planning to stage a sit-in ini front of the GBLA.

Amid this chaos, the government has failed to make an official copy of the proposed reforms order public. Different drafts are making the rounds on social media, adding to the confusion, and uncertainty.

In two drafts of the proposed Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, the definition of “citizen” has emerged as a major bone of contention, among other various points.

According to the draft:

  • ““Citizen” means a person who has a domicile or resident of Gilgit-Baltistan and who is a citizen under the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951 (II of 1951);

According to some observers, including students of law, the text implies that anyone who has a domicile of GB, or has been a resident (for undefined period), and whoever is a citizen under the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951 (ii of 1951), can be considered a citizen of Gilgit-Baltistan.

This text is being interpreted in different manner. Some people are seeing it as an open invitation to all Pakistani citizens to become citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan, because they are the ones who are constitutionally and legally citizens under the “Pakistan Citizenship Act ,1951 (ii of 1951). In this clause, there’s no mention of the then “northern areas”, or “Gilgit-Baltistan”.

During a press conference, Gilgit-Baltistan’s information minister had said that the citizenship act of 1951 has been extended to Gilgit-Baltistan, but his explanation has not been received well by critics on social media

The confusion persists despite of an advertisement providing comparative analysis of the 2009 and 2018 orders published in regional newspapers today by the government of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The confusion and fears are also shaped by recent protest over ownership of land, in the wake of Pakistani citizens buying land in the area, and making other properties.

Political parties have also recently started demanding the revival of state-subject rule in the region, to ensure that non-locals are unable to purchase land in the area.


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