Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Constitutional rights and Islamabad’s denial, DJ Mathal

Constitutional rights and Islamabad’s denial, DJ Mathal
According to reports, a decision has been taken by Pakistan to continue with the governance system implemented in Gilgit-Baltistan since 2009. And with it, the expectations of making Gilgit-Baltistan the fifth province of Pakistan or giving the area representation in parliament or any other forum such as the national finance commission have been buried forever. 
It has been learnt that Islamabad has decided not to make any changes in the administrative system of Gilgit-Baltistan due to its long-standing Kashmir policy, immense pressure from political leaders of AJK and other factors. This decision is not a temporary one but remain in standstill till the resolution of the longstanding issue of Kashmir to which Gilgit-Baltistan is a major party. But the question here is when the issue of Kashmir would be resolved or if it would be resolved anytime.

 However, the federal government has decided to give some facilities and package to Gilgit-Baltistan as a face saving in order to dispel the impression that Islamabad was left with nothing to give to the people even after making tall claims and many promises. It is on record that we have been writing through these pages since day one that Islamabad is playing a cat and mouse game with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan for long and it has no intension to give the people anything. Now those who were demanding and giving good ens of having representation in parliament or making Gilgit-Baltistan a province have nowhere to hide their faces and they have also realized their worth.

The champion of such claims was no other party that the PPP which did nothing for the emancipation of the people while in power for five years but was expecting its rival PML-N and pressuring it to get all such facilities. The biggest misfortune of Gilgit-Baltistan is the scourge of sectarianism which has never allowed the people to unite at s single platform and fight for their rights.

The seeds of sectarianism were sowed among the people by outsiders who wanted to pitch the people against each other in order to prolong their own rule in the area. The demand for the AJK-like set-up also had no worth but there were slim hopes about getting representation in the parliament of Pakistan but Islamabad was wary of any possibility of the Indian government taking advantage of it by highlighting it at the international level in the context of the UN resolutions.

It is important to note that the direction of the rulers in Pakistan and the federalist political parties and their leaders in Gilgit-Baltistan is not in the interest of the people of the disputed area. It was known to all that the committee to come up with recommendations for the so-called political reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan under Sartaj Aziz was constituted by the prime minister without any tangible seriousness. The chief minister, Hafizur Rehman was under pressure to make it public in the wake of public protests in Gilgit-Baltistan.

During the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the chief minister mentioned the demand in his welcome address to ease the pressure and it is expected that he had already taken Mr Sharif into confidence. But at the end of the day, the recommendations of the committee remained the same as expected by most of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. There is the possibility that the area would get a handful of more powers that would be unimportant but it is a fact that had all the political parties been united and demanded their rights, the situation would have been different.

There was a need that the united political parties should have put forward their demands based on historical facts and UN resolutions as regard to the issue of Kashmir. But this was not done and on the other hand an impression was created that China was pressuring Islamabad to give more constitutional rights to Gilgit-Baltistan in order to implement the CPEC project without any hurdles.

It is strange to link the CPEC project with the rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. China has been working on CPEC since 1994 and had Beijing been concerned and wanted the local people’s rights it would have put up the demand right from day one. It is also ridiculous that the demand of China is being linked to any pressure or objection from India.

China is a super power and can it be bowed down to any pressure by India over the issues concerning the people of a third country. It is very unfortunate that the matter concerning the constitutional rights of the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan has been made a joke and people make such stories that one gets bewildered over it. But the fact of the matter is that the latest drama by Islamabad has necessitated that the people and all the political and religious parties of Gilgit-Baltistan should get united and launch a unanimous struggle for their rights.
It is important to know that people of a disputed territory also have their basic rights and no one has the powers to deny them the rights. It is the rights of the people that any party coming in power in Gilgit-Baltistan should have the right and power to run the affairs of the area without any interference from Islamabad. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan should have the right over the natural resources of the region and should utilize them for the benefit of the people of the area. If any other authority uses the land or any natural resources of Gilgit-Baltistan, it should pay royalty to the people of the area after entering into an agreement. –

No comments: