Imam Yar Baig
Gilgit-Baltistan is all set for elections on 15 November, i.e. tomorrow. Representatives of political parties are making last-minute efforts in boosting the position of their candidates through rallies, corner meetings and public gatherings, after campaigning for weeks.
Living in a democratic country, people have the right to arrange such gatherings to elect their representatives to the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly in a democratic way.
Ironically, however, all of this political campaigning is happening under the shadows of the leaderships of provincial and federal parties. On one hand, this might seem a beacon of light for the neglected people of GB, but on the other hand it shows a heartening reality- a total lack of local leadership who can represent the concerns highlight the issues of the people of GB. It is pertinent to note that federal parties have sent their ministers and big guns to help and speedup the election campaign.
We, the almost two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan have not been able to form a single regional party that can contest elections in all districts of GB.
Currently, one is amused to see the interesting situation where people are busy in preparing the stages for corner meetings which in turn are used as a power-show for arm twisting of incumbent government and federal ministers, who have been campaigning violating court orders.
All federal parties have the right to contest elections, but the dream of representing your rights seems a far cry without representation of an honest regional party that can represent GB at local and national forums-assemblies, senate, NFC, ECC etc.
This situation may be a result of the prevailing of princely states till early seventies and subsequent election/selection of princes of such states well into 1990s. It may also be seen as a a result of the general disinterest of masses in politics! But, if we closely look at the root cause we find that the people are divided on the lines of sect, language and casts, a manifestation of populist politics done by these so called mainstream parties in the past.
The irony is, we the people of GB are emotionally malleable and are drawn towards these parties easily. As a result we neglect the local emerging parties which can represent us better on all fronts. Moreover, we elect independent candidates who again join a federal party after wining. Here we are, standing at the point where we have started!
Every success needs commitment and struggle of community. It is never late to take a positive step. We can invest our time, put our energy and give votes to build such a mainstream political party in Gilgit-Baltistan. If there is a local party and is vying for political ground, we should lend our support to the party candidate, whether he wins or not. It is not about just winning an election, it is about spreading awareness, starting a socially inclusive political party and discouraging the politics of hate and division. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve a political party instead of running behind the representatives of the autocratic, authoritarian and dynastic political parties. Gilgit-Baltistan may form his own party and elect representatives with dignity.