The keyword that while taking any decision pertaining to Gilgit-Baltistan, the area’s geography, irrefutable past historical background, the events associated with the pre-partition days and models of governance in the area during the post-liberation period, till today, have to be approached holistically and pragmatically in order to arrive at a just and judicious decision right away in the weal of these people. The recent reduction of quota of jobs for GB tends literally to slam shut the door on the region and hence the matter needs be reviewed early to raise it to the unanimously demanded four percent. In the face of the simmering despondency among the youth under the circumstances, the view generally gaining currency is in sum that they feel literally lost in the heights of the Himalayas, mightiness of the Karakorams and the wilderness of Hindukush with their freedom lost to the Kashmir dispute. Such feelings need be addressed through effective actions as long as the core problem of constitutional conundrum is resolved.
By Syed Shamsuddin
CONTRARY TO HIGH expectations of people of Gilgit-Baltistan with regard to a holistic address to their longstanding problems inclusive of their pressing demand for an enhanced ‘federal job quota’ for recruitment of GB candidates with a rational approach to the area’s economic backwardness and concomitant woes, the recent governmental decision further truncating the existing GB quota to a miniscule one percent has come as a great shock and as such it sparked an outcry. Ostensibly, the dispensation came as an outcome of its bifurcation from the formerly amalgamated scheme of GB/FATA. The action is thus viewed as highly unjust, uncharitable and iniquitous and as such bemoaned by the burgeoning educated-unemployed class of this region. It is noteworthy that this comes on the heel of the reiteration from the central government about the oft-repeated stance that declaring this region as a constitutional part of Pakistan could be ‘harmful to the Kashmir dispute’.
It is nonetheless quite flabbergasting that the recent action culminating in diminution instead of its enhancing to the demanded four percent quota per se, militates against the rationale behind the quota system and as such and hence it dashed all hopes of GB people and especially its bulging unemployed youth to the ground in the manner demonstrative of great nonchalance. To the people, the government was not at all expected to come down so hard on them exhibiting a lackadaisical approach insofar as bringing this most economically backward, peripheral region at par with the developed parts of the country is concerned. As unfolding from a recent advertisement emanating from the print media, it became clear that Federal Public Commission embarked on and proceeded with the implementation process in regard to filling of the ‘general posts’ under the federal government is concerned. Given this the same picture is to dominate the recruitment during the upcoming CSS competitive examinations. Having a cursory look at FPSC’s advertisement Case No. F.4-51/2020-R (3/2020 in the context of filling 157 posts of Appraisers in the Revenue Division, would bring to the fore that, 05 posts have been allocated for FATA, 04 to AJK while allocating only one post for Gilgit-Baltistan out of the total posts to be filled. This, put in a nutshell, is the outcome of the governmental decision envisaging a very scant allocation for the region disregarding the ground realities associated with geopolitical and geo-economics – that otherwise necessitated a just, judicious and liberal consideration of the GB’s case while hammering out the bifurcation process. In all brevity, it is in view of these crucial factors that the diminution of the federal jobs quota of GB in the instant case becomes quite irrational, illogical and arbitrary because of its running counter to the raison d’etre of the very scheme fundamentally meant to address the economic backwardness and ending deprivations of an area. No doubt GB may be smaller in terms of its demographic composition when compared to the rest, but nevertheless, it indisputably gets singled out as the most economically backward region meriting all munificence decision-making aimed at mitigation of the region’s economic travails.
Having said that the appalling backwardness of Gilgit-Baltistan becomes straightaway ascribable to the area’s sheer geo-economics leading to an absolute resourceless state – something requiring topmost consideration in the decision-making processes. But quite sadly, Gilgit-Baltistan, having no representation in the parliament and for that matter, in all the central decision-making bodies of the country, these people’s voice goes quite unheard and hence their legitimate demands fully unmet at such levels obviously sans GB’s representation. Undeniably, the constitutional dilemma facing the region is the stumbling block which is ascribed to the lingering Kashmir dispute quite contrary to the views of the GB people inter alia, that it otherwise has no nexus or historical linkage whatsoever, save that of a quarter of a century of forcible occupation by the Dogras from the second half the nineteenth century done away with by these valiant people on 1st November 1947. Thus the core issue of constitutionalization of Gilgit-Baltistan hangs in balance for the last 72 years at a stretch as its resolution is termed ‘harmful to the Kashmir cause’. Be it as it may, it is not understood as to what ailed the instant governmental decision whereby resort was taken to the reduction in quota of federal jobs for this area with a lackadaisical approach and in a manner to be termed arbitrary viewed in terms of the unprecedented and colossal sacrifices of these people and seen in keeping with the rationale behind the quota scheme which fundamentally aims at alleviation of economic backwardness, the GBians maintain.
Going by the recent stance of the federation as has been portrayed by the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan the other day while talking to a group of newsmen from GB and as reported by Pamir Times on March 22, it was made unambiguously clear that making GB a provisional province was ‘harmful to the lingering Kashmir cause’. However, the regional people ask justifiably as to why other decisions like the instant ‘job quota matter’ – are contemplated in the like manner and why the supreme sacrifices of the regional people are ignored apathetically in the context of taking effective measures in their weal. The unanimously demanded enhancement of the erstwhile minuscule quota for recruitment to federal jobs as compensatory measure in consideration of the past neglects and in view of the area’s sheer economic backwardness was indispensable in order to bring an end to their long deprivations but instead, it has now further been slashed, nay, decimated arbitrarily , say the people.
Quite strangely, the governmental quarters frequently come up with announcements regarding plans to tap the natural resources of GB but they have always failed to devise an effective mechanism to harness the regions great human resource in order to capitalize on this vast potential. It cannot be gainsaid that these people deserve empathy nationally for their colossal sacrifices for the country in general and Kashmir cause in particular as alluded to in the above. Arguably, these are the cumulative factors requiring the incumbent government to come up with effective measures to end the region’s economic backwardness in consonance with the rationale behind the ‘quota system’. These are in short; the plethoric questions raised by these people saying why then they are not assured of a special dispensation in these circumstances. These are the myriad questions from the people particularly the disillusioned youth of the area that need an expeditious redress.
It is worth mentioning that demographically viewed, the population of Gilgit-Baltistan is officially put at below 2 million while it is disputed by the regional who put it around 2.8 million. Be it as it may, the entire population of this area is engaged in scant mountain agriculture each of them working on tiny landholding for breadwinning being there absolutely no alternative. The whole area spreading over 28,000 miles is rocky and mountainous where barely 1 percent of it is under agriculture with the difficult terrain holding no prospects whatsoever, of being given a genuine a boost to agriculture. There is no industry either to help the people seek employment. There are no significant businesses in the private sector that may hold any prospects of generating per capita income although these people avid await employment as an alternative in the circumstance. In such scenarios the rationale behind the recent dispensation of curtailment of job quota to the minuscule one percent is seen as highly oppressive. There is undivided opinion and unanimity of view among GB people in the fore-going context.
To be continued……