By M. Ajmal Khan Masood
The swift uprising in G-B seems to be against the recently promulgated Government of Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018, but in reality it is the beginning of political consciousness among the masses.
Today’s enlightened generation knows that they have been deprived the right to self governance, and constitutional rights, for the past seven decades. Moreover, G-Bians reject the disempowering policies, democratization and colonialisation through orders after orders (Hence the famous slogan, Orders pay orders Naa Manzur), without giving the region any meaningful governance mechanism.
The wide spread political mobilizations and protests across the Gilgit Baltistan indicate the end of the seventy years of apolitical era and beginning of spring in G-B.
The fate of GB has been in the balance since 1st Nov, 1947, when Gilgit Scouts, the ‘freedom fighters’, got independence from the colonial Maharaja of Kashmir and annexed the former British Gilgit Agency with Pakistan? Instead of constitutionally integrating the new independent republic of Gilgit, Pakistan forcefully made it a part of Kashmir, in pursuit of a ‘plebiscite’ that, for all apparent reasons, may never take place!
This attitude is an unjust action against the people of GB. If Gilgit Baltistan is a disputed region, why UN resolutions are not implemented, which guarantees right to self determination, political independence and self governance, along with complete control over local resources?
Government of GB Order 2018 contradicts various provisions of the UN resolutions (self governance till plebiscite).
As far as democracy is concerned, an autonomous province is always empowered and not governed through orders or ordinances like G-B has been ordinance 2009 and order 2018.
Demands of the people of Gilgit Baltistan are fair and democratic. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah also demanded the same sort of rights, autonomy and self governance from the British.
The recent Order 2018 reversed the status of GB Legislative Assembly, GBLA into federally administrated Gilgit Baltistan, FAGB. The upcoming political system would be bureaucratic-centric administration governed from Islamabad. After promulgation of GB Order 18, existing legislators of GB should dissolve assembly because they have no more decision powers.
- Utmost demand is constitutional province (Federal unit) and representation in the parliament.
- If GB deemed disputed, then it should get independent setup like Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Or like, Crown dependencies in Britain
- The “Dependency” should have all powers and duties except, foreign affairs, defense, currency, budget, exports/imports.
Pakistan does not have many logical options, except honoring the wishes and demands of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Delaying justice does not augur well for the state, because the youth are united in their demand, and they are ready to make all peaceful and democratic efforts to get their rights in the weeks, months and years ahead.
The contributor is a student of Political Science at Quaid-e-Azamn University, Islamabad.