Engr. Erfan Shahid
Development of political though in a region is as essential as the other disciplines, to protect civil rights and to move parallel with the advancing world affairs by acting as arbitrators and bridges between governments.
Existence of many political parties, strong competition in elections, philanthropist contesters with courage and ideology, transparent electoral system and the presence of platform for new candidates are the attributes of a strong political development of any region.
Unfortunately, an oligarchy politics has set in Gilgit Baltistan and demagogues are ruling the region since the first elections held in this region in 1970s. The region, vastly expanded having diverse culture and tradition, is under a special hostage of some powerful political parties, which do not allow space for the political growth and formation of quality leaders in this region. The geopolitics of the region is facing pernicious results because of the repetition of political contesters in GB assembly with archconservative and conventional approach towards public and regional affairs. After conferring some powers under self – governance act in 2009, the politics of GB has followed a traditional style of government, like in Azad Kashmir. The political party with the central power wins the election and forms it government in the region in any case. A trend of “Yes Sir” to federal politicians and their policies for GB is introduced, regardless of knowing its upshots for the region and their responsibilities to tackle it. Devotions of GB politicians are shifted to the political party in federal and AJK is experiencing the same for a long time. The autonomy and freedom conferred to GB is under question and a dubious thought emerges when we hear the experiences of GB elections and electoral system. The central government butt in, electoral system and impuissant GB assembly and their policies do not allow entry of any new political party or member to express its leadership qualities and dexterity towards the modern curbs in the political development of the region.
The central government obtrudes in the elections using top level bureaucracy with the help of care-taking government during the elections in GB. They appoint officers of their favor, governor and care taking ministers through which they play conspiracies to change the results of the elections. Such incidents can be seen in the earlier elections, where a process of several recounting overturned a result of a major seat in Skardu. Despite of many other flaws in the electoral system, a major and pernicious one is the difference in the time of election scheduling in GB and rest of the country. The government in GB becomes lame duck after change of the government in federal. Many projects and other issues remain incomplete due to this change; the new government does not seem interested to work with policies of the government of any other party in Gilgit Baltistan.
On the other hand, the frivolous and ancient approach of the politicians in GB assembly to formulate its own electoral system which suits the socio- culture of the region is another reason in the sluggish development of politics. Unfortunately the members, unaware of legislative power, prefer to relax or play the game of favoritism by posting and transfers of employs rather than framing policies for the bigger change. The territory lacks leaders with broader vision and skills to move in the right direction for collective development of the regional matters.
The tardily development of politics is jeopardizing the regional affairs in a drastic way. The machine politics and preplan fabricated results in the elections causing complete overhaul of government, an assembly consist of majority from a single political party, rather than mixed members from different parties, causing a weak opposition. Suppose the presence of Mehdi Shah, former CM GB, with his experience, in the assembly and in opposition would be more interesting and debates may be more fruitful and much result oriented. He has to answer his former policies and mishaps before the assembly and may also create a strong resistance to the government blunders. Currently the GB assembly consists of majority of members from PML (N), with a weak opposition, causing less hamper to the government policies towards public affairs. The nepotism, corruptions, incomplete projects and many other social issues are ignored and are not highlighted or criticized properly, thus menace, at a considerable pace, flourishing in our society.
An opposite polarity in assembly, variety of ideology and capable devoted members are the keys towards proper functioning of the government machinery and to revamp the deteriorating health, education and other basic needs of life. The demands of the constitutional rights and CPEC shares do not seems possible with current approach or without an entry of a new political party with altruistic members and leadership. The quality of politics needs to be developed to protect the civil rights and to meet demands of people. The electoral system of GB should be updated with the introduction of advance technologies, transparent voter lists, proper planning monitoring and communication system to reduce the unfair means in the elections. The episcopacy in politics must be rejected and their way of winning elections should be monitored and stopped for a greater cause in favor of the region. A space must be created for young dynamic leaders with positive approach to move in the right direction to fight for the basic rights of people and political development in the region.
The Writer is a CSS aspirant with interest in social issues.