A Solution of Gilgit-Baltistan’s Constitutional Issue

Advocate Farhan Ali 

The issue whether GB is part of Kashmir or not has been under scrutiny in various awareness platforms, seminars as well as within the regions including GB,Kashmir and Pakistan, for past 71 years.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has clearly manifested and declared GB to be a part of the  disputed State of Jammu & Kashmir and tied its future to the resolution of United Nation, which is supposed to conduct a plebiscite among residents of the defunct State of Jammu & Kashmir to decide their future.

Notwithstanding aforementioned facts, under supervision of  Sirtaj Aziz, the then Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs , a committee was formed and tasked to make recommendations for resolution of the constitutional issue of Gilgit-Baltistan. After probing the matter and taking into consideration all aspects of this issue in consultation with all political parties activated in GB, ultimately the committee figured out four points: accommodating GB’s representation in Parliament of Pakistan and other constitutional institutions, like NFC, CCI and NEC, Establishment of circuit bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan in GB and guaranteeing of fundamental rights of people of GB under constitution of Pakistan 1973. Surprisingly enough, all these recommendations were earlier incorporated in the decision of judgment pronounced by Supreme Court of Pakistan in the petition of Al-Jahad Trust VS federation of Pakistan in 1999.

Regrettably, the recommendations of the said committee couldn’t be enforced due to chaos in the politics of Pakistan resulting in the ouster of PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif. What transpired after the chaos was promulgation of the Govt. of GB Order 2018, which instantly became controversial, leading to protest demonstrations and calls for annulment of the said ‘Order’.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Council had filed a constitutional petition in Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2015 seeking implementation of its judgment passed in 1999 whereby SC had directed the then federal government to ensure representation of people of GB in both houses and other constitutional institutions of Pakistan. The constitutional petition remained subjudice since 2015 consequently disposed of by full bench presided  by Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan. The detailed and comprehensive judgment of Supreme Court of Pakistan while evincing the status of GB as disputed quoted that “the federal government intends to give GB the status of provisional province. However, a proper constitutional amendment needs to be made in the constitution of Pakistan and this needs two thirds majority in the parliament.”

After the effective narrative of Supreme Court pertaining to make GB a provisional province in near future, it is undoubtedly need of the hour for all people of GB supporting political parties of Pakistan, including PPP, PMLN & PTI, to emphasize on their respective leadership to play a vital role to move a bill in Parliament of Pakistan in order to make GB a provisional province.

Contributor is the Information Secretary of Insaf Lawyers Forum, GB.

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