By: Waseem Wasti
District Ghanche one of the most far flung districts of Pakistan is situated in the extreme north. It’s geo strategic importance cannot be ignored as Ghanche provides the only access of Pakistan to the highest battle field in the world Siachen and the connecting road is called Shahra-e-Siachen. Ghanche has the most beautiful tourist attractions and adds a substantial mount to the revenue generated through tourism. The famous Chaqchan Mosque, Royal Palace of Khaplu and the largest wooden Khanqah of the world are the most frequented tourist spots. An epitome of beauty with high vast glaciers and fresh water streams Ghanche is truly a heaven on earth. It’s also the starting point of many mountain expeditions. It is this very District from where the expeditions to the Giant Mountains like Masherbrum and beautiful mountains like Laila Peak commence. The famous Hushe valley known for its flora, fauna and dexterous high altitude porters is also located in District Ghanche. The legendary Little Karim hails from here. Eight members from this district summit yes K2 this year and no one batted an eye. But that is how ot appears to work here. Being in the wild north, isolated from the rest of the world doesn’t come without its demerits. District Ghanche with its increasing population has always stayed out of the attention of the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative assembly whether it be the allocation of funds and mega projects or whether it be the provision of the basic fundamental rights like water and Health.
As peaceful as the people are here with almost zero percent crime rate as unaware they are of their basic rights. The Health system in Ghanche is disastrous. There is no Gynaecologist in one of the biggest districts of GB. Last week a young lady died during child birth due to the unavailability of a gynaecologist. One lady gave birth in a taxi while going to Skardu the administrative capital of Baltistan Division. The District hospital Ghanche has gained the reputation of a morgue where rarely people come out alive but here we will focus on the women related issues. These are just the recent developments and if we look at the past then I am sure a dozen other labour related deaths must have been caused due to the criminal negligence of the administration by not providing a gynaecologist. Almost 19 doctors are officially registered in the District Ghanche’s name and receive their salaries from here but are posted in other districts of GB according to Agha Nazar Kazmi who needs no introduction. Nazar Kazmi is an activist of Ghanche championing for the rights of the people especially the needy and the destitute. The people lack awareness here but that’s not the case with the visionary Nazar Kazmi who along with 5 men had protested in front of the office of the Chief Secretary GB and demanded a gynaecologist for Ghanche a month ago before the occurrence of the unfortunate death of the young lady. The Chief Secretary had assured him that doctors will be provided on rotational basis.Despite the assurance somehow there was no practical implementation occurred and this unfortunate event happened filling the local populace with grief and anger.In the previous week alone more than four patients died because of the unavailability of basic health care facilities in DHQ hospital khaplu. The unfortunate lady belonged to khaplu city and gave up her life on the way to Skardu for further medical treatments. She was referred to regional headquarter Skardu where there is a gynaecologist. This hard news spread like a wildfire on social media starting the trend ” Health for Ghanche’ on Facebook,Twitter and other social media platforms. Condemning this cruelty civil society announced shutter down strike and protested in front of the deputy commissioner house against the lack of gynaecologist and insufficient of qualified specialist doctors at DHQ hospital khaplu. the protesters demanded the appointment of gynaecologist on a permanent basis and asked the government to take strict action against those so-called doctors who are not willing to fulfil their duties despite enjoying a heavy package from Gilgit Baltistan government hinting at spreading the protest to all big cities of Gilgit Baltistan. They blocked the Shahryar-e-Siachen. Eventually the government of Gilgit Baltistan had to appoint a new gynaecologist and further assured the appointment of specialist doctors within 5 days at DHQ hospital khaplu. The sit-in was called off after an agreement was made between civil society led by Nazar Kazmi and district administration Ghanche.
This is the first time in the history of Ghanche that the people dared to stand for their basic fundamental rights and all this would not have been possible without Syed Nazar Kazmi who stressed the Government to fulfill the demands within the negotiated period and warned them of the peaceful protests through out the region if the demands are not fulfilled by the government.