HUNZA: Spread over a vast area of 10,109 sq kilometres, Hunza is the largest district in Gilgit Baltistan which is divided in many far flung valleys in diverse directions. Given its strategic location, Hunza has always been geo-politically important which has been recognised in different forms until recent past. People of Hunza have the honour to play most prominent role in the liberation of Gilgit Baltistan and voluntary accession with Pakistan paving way for the friendly neighbourhood with China. Hunza is the gateway of Pakistan’s most important economic vein CPEC with 202 kilometres long Silk Route (KKH) running in Hunza District. Since the heroic liberation war, people of Hunza have bravely fought in defence of motherland with hundreds of martyrs and decorated valiant war veterans. The peaceful people of Hunza have ensured the defence of their borders without army. The sons and daughters of Hunza are proud to make legendry records in the field of mountaineering and sports and to earn global fame for Pakistan. People of Hunza expect the Government of Pakistan the same befitting and honourable uniform treatment in the affairs of good governance, socio-economic development and human rights.
Ever since the abolition of the state in 1974, Hunza is represented in Gilgit Baltistan Assembly and its predecessor Councils, the highest representative body, by only one seat. In 1976, when election of the then Northern Areas Council took place for a single seat in Hunza, the entire Gilgit Baltistan was divided in sixteen constituencies. Later the administrative reforms of 1994 brought a 50 percent increase in assembly (then NALC) seats with 24 constituencies in GB. The disparity is obvious from the fact that at the time of delimitation of the then Northern Areas Legislative Council in 1994, constituencies were created on as low as 11,000 and 14,000 populations while Hunza had more than 28,000 souls according to official census of 1981. Hunza remained deprived despite its real population, huge number of voters and vast area.
The people of Hunza have been knocking the doors of authorities and raising their voice consistently against this perpetual inadequate share in public affairs and under representation and demanding for additional seats appropriate with the real population. Eventually, the Election Commissioner created an additional seat and the Delimitation Commission completed delimitation process vide letter no. ELC-1(1)/2003 dated 08-10-2003 but the opposition of the Home Secretary GB on the plea that “the elections schedule having been announced it would give rise to complications at this stage” vide his letter no. ELC-3(26)99 dated 31-03-2004 to KANA Division, proved the stumbling block. Principally, this deferment should have been till the elections of 2004 and Hunza should have two seats in the 2009 assembly.
The people of Hunza were looking forward to the political reforms of 2009 as an opportunity to make end with the step motherly treatment with Hunza. It was expected across the board that at least one seat will be increased but the ‘Governance and Empowerment Order 2009’ brought disappointment for us.
The recent electoral rolls of the 2015 revealed that there are constituencies in GB on as low as 11,000 voters as compared to Hunza’s 36,750 voters, more than three times high figure. It was this disparity that the GB Assembly too passed resolution for creation of additional seat for Hunza but to no avail.
We express our dissatisfaction on the results of recent census reported in media which shows only about 52,000 people in Hunza. How an area whose adult population is thirty seven thousand can have only fifteen thousand people under the age of eighteen? This census in Hunza is apparently illogical and against the trends of population increase and statistical norms, and is likely to be instrumental in furthering the political as well as socio economic deprivation of Hunza. We understand that the real population of Hunza is not less than 70,000 according to alternate local counts, civil society assessments and other indicators. We express our serious reservations and reject the recent census. We demand for a fair and transparent census in Hunza.
The inadequate and insufficient representation has not only barred Hunza’s due share in the representation and democratic governance but also it has negatively impacted the public sector development. Hunza has been denied of worth billions rupees of public fund in the last 25 years and left deprived of basic civic facilities in health, education, power, clean water, irrigation & road infrastructure and environment to name the most direly needed basic sectors. The sweeping injustice is despite Hunza’s unmatched economic resources in the form of huge revenues of custom duty, other levies, border trade and income of tourism. We understand that the continuous deprivation tends to disappointment and frustration especially among the educated and aware youth.
This body of Lamberdars representing the people of Hunza demands for two additional seats of Gilgit Baltistan Assembly so that there should be justice with the people of Hunza. Since a change in the number of assembly seats require amendment in Gilgit Baltistan Order 2020 through the executive order of Prime Minister of Pakistan, we appeal to the Prime Minister and Federal Government of Pakistan to kindly close the widow of perpetual injustice with Hunza and amend the said order to increase number of Hunza’s seats from ridiculous one seat to three seats to end the mockery of justice & equality. The proposed addition of two seats will compensate the loss suffered by Hunza in the long period of 25 years. We urge all powerful quarters of the state to deliver justice and care to Hunza that it deserves.