Justice (r) Muzaffar Ali
People of Gilgit-Baltistan liberated their homeland from Maharaja Kashmir in the year 1947, with an indigenous armed struggle. The liberators established a local sovereign state for fifteen days, thereafter the local authority invited the sovereignty of newly created Islamic state of Pakistan and the Pakistan government accepted the invitation and deputed a lower grade bureaucrat to rule over the region.
The government of Pakistan ruled the people of GB under a colonial system from day first. The envoy Mr. Muhammad Alam got imperial powers under FCR as political agent in GB. In the mid of 70’s FCR was left but prior to that the government of Pakistan kept in abeyance the “STATE SUBJECT RULES”, enforced in GB since Maharaja Regime.
The colonial system remained intact in Gilgit-Baltistan despite recession of FCR. Government of Pakistan ruled the region through notifications/orders from time to time. The people were deprived from their fundamental rights, even after a celebrated judgement passed by the supreme court of Pakistan in the year 1999, whereby the Supreme Court held that:
” we may also observe that even under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Pakistan is a signatory, human beings have some basic fundamental rights irrespective of their origin or status. In this behalf reference may be made to articles 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,15 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
SC further held as:
“Most of the Pakistani statutes have been made applicable to Northern Areas including Citizenship Act. The people of Northern Areas are citizens of Pakistan, for all intents and purposes. The distinction between the two categories of the fundamental rights of the constitution is not material. They, as the citizens of Pakistan, like any other citizen have the right to invoke any of the above Fundamental Rights”
In the year 2009 the government introduced a new executive Order, whereby fundamental rights as enshrined in constitution of Pakistan were inserted but no independent judicial system was introduced, while an independent judiciary alone can safeguard the violation of fundamental rights of the citizens and without an independent judiciary, insertion of a list of fundamental rights in any executive Order is meaningless. The present federal government boasted to empower the people of GB through their chosen representatives but all in vain. The present government recently introduced an executive Order which can be said worse than that of previous. The instant executive order is not only violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also contradicts the constitution of Pakistan and the verdict given by the Supreme Court for the reasons as under:
The Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951(II of 1951) has been extended to Gilgit-Baltistan years before but their right to vote to elect members of parliament in Pakistan has been denied without any cogent cause. The Supreme Court also has shown its astonishing state of mind with the words that “it is not understandable on what basis the people of Northern Areas can be denied the fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution “
The present Executive Order also shows a list of fundamental rights in it but no independent judiciary has been established through the Order and a chief court instead of high court has been introduced, the same is subservient to the PM of Pakistan as he appoints the chief judge and the judges under article 84 sub rule (6) of the Order and a unique and discriminatory proviso has been introduced into article 84 sub rule (9), whereby the prime minister has been empowered to appoint a retired judge of any high court of Pakistan to be the chief judge or judge of the chief court of Gilgit-Baltistan. This proviso shows hopelessness of the legal fraternity of GB and miseries. Every province of Pakistan has a high court of its own and no chief justice or judges of the province are being appointed in the same but the GB is unique example of this discrimination.
The “Order” provides chapter VII with the title “DISTRIBUTION OF LEGISLATIVE POWERS” whereby the prime minister of Pakistan becomes legislator for GB while under the constitution of Pakistan he is just executive head of the federation having no legislative powers. The legislative powers in the federation vest with the parliament and in provinces with the provincial assemblies. The Order confers ultra constitutional powers to the PM in respect of GB and it is heard that the PM visits to GB on Sunday to announce the Order to the subservient assembly and for his coronation.
Last but not the least, the human rights violations being made on the pretext of Kashmir issue. The Kashmir issue involves three parts: (a) held Kashmir, (b) Azad Kashmir (c) Gilgit-Batistan. The people of held J&K are still awaiting their independence from Indian occupation but they enjoy a better system than that of GB despite they are being ruled forcefully Kashmir and face the atrocities by the Indian army. The people of Azad Kashmir also enjoy a better system of government, having their own independent judicial system, no judge from any other province of Pakistan is being appointed in the higher judiciary of AJ&K. People of AJ&K have their own interim constitution. Both are having State Subject Rules in field, a detailed comparative statement may read in my next article which is to come soon.
The contributor is a retired judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org