Mumbai carnage: time to testPak-India ties
The ever changing drastic and elastic foreign policy and back door diplomacy between Pakistan and India is once again lingering on the shoot signs of terrorists. Bombay bombings have mounted relations of both countries and hands forwarded for friendship are pulled back to traditional hatred and rivalry.The Indian accusation of presence of pro Pakistan elements in Mumbai carnage has put the newly elected Pakistani government in a fix putting a heavy load on its already weak shoulders. It seems from the reaction of Pakistan and India that both the countries are on the verge of war and seem to be preparing for war.Some unseen powers are not happy with President Zardari’s statements regarding Kashmir issue and opening of old routes and these powers bombed Mumbai right at the moment when foreign ministers of Pakistan and India penned down an agreement to reopen Skardu-Kargil route and Khokrapar-Mona Bao.The allegations of both the countries against each other after Mumbai carnage give the impression that both the countries are moving towards war ground from the negotiation tables. This is a universal truth that both Pakistan and India have never been independent in the true sense and the negotiations taking place too were on the behest of unseen hands and that unseen hand directs both countries sometimes to fight and at times to negotiate.As a mater of fact the ties between India and Pakistan seem to be tensed but keeping the ties in this condition of stress in neither in the interest of Pakistan nor India because the force fighting war of America against Taliban in the western border is not free to open another front on the eastern boarder. Even if it gets into war on the western boarder America will never want to let a force fight another war leaving behind America’s war and visit of American foreign secretary of Pakistan and India advocates this view.Pakistan and India never tried to learn any thing from history as the countries have fought bloody wars in the past resulting in no profit and only loss to the governments on both sides. Masses of both the countries were plunged into the ocean of poverty, ignorance and a bleak future.Kargil war is a live example in which the brave army of Gilgit-Baltistan was made to fight against the trained Indian troops and the Pakistani government was forced to go and bow in Washington to stop the ongoing war. After every war commissions are formed but these commissions always come up with nothing. It is either astonishing that neither the aim of war is known or its objectives.This time too the ongoing talks on Kashmir are halted for the time being due to Mumbai carnage and masses of Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan are once again drown in the oceans of fear.Every time the terrorist incidents in Pakistan and India are linked with Kashmir issue and heart ranching is the fact that each time so-called jihadi organizations of Kashmir are accused. Nationalist and intelligentsia of Kashmir are of the view that these so-called jihads, fighting for there freedom of Kashmir are the true enemies of impendence of Kashmir because jihad culture has sabotaged the peaceful environ of Kashmir.Masses of Gilgit-Baltistan were very happy with the news of opening of Skardu-Kargil route but Mumbai carnage shattered there dreams and put a full stop to the happiness of the people of the region. Pakistan and Indian governments need to assure the reopening of Skardu-Kargil route, if a blind eye is turned to the opening of the route masses of the region will be right in saying that terrorist are not enemies of Pakistan and India but of Gilgit-Baltistan which never want the divided families to meet.Analysts too are of the view that this region has boarders touching with many borders of the world and it is best known as gateway of Asia. Due to this reason Gilgit-Baltistan has gained attention from the international community and any decision regarding the region can become a part of international politics. Its bad luck of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir that the so-called leaders have always looked towards other people taking decision regarding the region and specially Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have always been under the trap of bureaucracy and people of these regions have always looked towards Islamabad for decisions and Islamabad itself cannot take any decision on its own it has to look towards Washington.What is needed is that people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir should make themselves capable of making there own decisions instead of looking towards Islamabad. When Sirinagar, Muzafarabad and Gilgit will be able to decide future of its people in their own cities only then the fate of the region will be changed.
Propagators against nationalistMovements to be resisted: GBDA
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Nationalist movements of Gilgit-Baltistan have slammed Chairman Kashmir Committee Maulana Fazlur Rehaman’s disparaging of nationalist movements of Gilgit-Baltistan.Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA) strongly condemned the statement and expressed its concern over the issue terming it an act of Maulana’s “ideological terrorism”. They said both Israel and Pakistan have been created in the name of religion but both are failed states and added that unlike Israel the people of Gilgit-Baltistan do not belong to a special school of thought instead the people living here who speak Shina, Balti, Burushaski, Khuwar and Wakhi language share a common history and culture.They stressed the two million people dwelling here have a glorious geo-political past, a distinct identity and a unique national question on the basis of which our movements struggle for an independent state. They said conspirators are daunted by our movement so are propagating false allegations against us but we do not care and it is our firm belief that independence is the only solution to the problems of the region.They expressed there concern over silence of local leadership regarding the issue and demanded the local leadership to give a solid response to Maulana’s ideological terrorism. They said we want to make it clear that Pakistan not needs to advocate for us in accordance with the Kashmir dispute and the Kashmir committee is not capable of granting our rights.They said only the mass of the region has the right to advocate for and justify there independence so neither we need the analysts of Kashmir committee over our problems nor we want to start from zero after a lapse of sixty one years.”No doubt the progressive and nationalist movements of Gilgit-Baltistan are striving for an independent state and in today’s democratic world a state is not owned by the movements but by the public” they said and added that if the mass of Gilgit-Baltistan are Israelites than the state surely be called an Israelite state they observed.The chairman had alleged that nationalist movements were aimed at turning the region to a mini Israel on behest of the west while addressing a welcome gathering in NA house Islamabad.
Diamer Bhasha to test mantleof new leadership
By Hub Ali Sani
Karachi: The most controversial water reservoir to be built in Gilgit Baltistan known as Diammer-Bhasha dam will test the mantle of new leadership and international analysts have regarded it the greatest challenge for the government.Despite all the technical difficulties and political pressure if the government succeeds in construction of the dam it will be ‘not less a miracle’. The government is facing risks squarely as on side stands political pressures from international community while on the other hand the technically engineered adventure in it self is enigma.According to international analysts, the financial barrier in it self is a great hurdle for as the initial construction requires demolishing of 110km long KKH (Karakurum Highway) and its replacement with an alternate road on the high mountains as height of the dam would be 270 meter and the total area will be 27500 acres.Construction of the dam initially requires up-gradation of the 325km long road from Havellian to the construction site besides 140km long road from Sazan to Rajkot needs to be reconstructed. Linking it with national power grid station Tarebella requires two circuits of 500kw and 250km long transmission lines, these lines will be installed on the dangerous high mountains where risk of landslide and other natural disasters put a no warranty stamp on the equipment and transmission lines. The feasibility report was prepared by a black listed company of Germany with aid from consortium of four other companies and the government has allocated a huge amount of 12.5 billion dollars.Besides causing heavy financial and environmental loss to the region, construction of the dam will have equally an adverse affect on the region’s historical and cultural heritage. Construction of the dam will demolish almost 95% remaining of Buddhism and Brahman stone carvings and other such historical memorials. In the past government had embarked upon a project to preserve the heritage and for this reason an initial fund of five million was granted to the tourism department. Sources say that 38000 stone carvings and ancient manuscript are embedded in the rocks of 90km long road from Darel Tangeer to Raikot and the construction of dam will deprive the region from these ancient manuscripts.Minister for water and power Raja Pervez Ashraf while talking to media men said the dam will provide electricity worth 1.5 billion dollars annually besides providing indirect benefit worth billions to the agriculture sector. He said royalty issue will be resolved on the basis of ‘give and take’ with the people of NWFP and Gilgit Baltistan and added that a comprehensive plan was been made for the settlement of the afectees.It is merit mentioning here that in 1950 when Pakistan decided to built dams Diamer dam was no where in the files of suitable sites besides the 1957 report of World Bank and the 1979 report of WAPDA reservation action plan too has no mention of the controversial dam which adds to controversy and guarantees the disputed nature of the dam. India too has expressed its reservation over the dam and clearly stated that construction of the dam will affect the ongoing Kashmir talks. History is witness that major controversies between Pakistan and India are based on water issues and the past and such issues have drastically changed the position of both countries on international chess board of politics. Pakistan people party had strongly opposed construction of the dam in the past but unlike the past it has taken a u turn on the dam issue and its subordinates in Gilgit Baltistan too are dumb and devoid of any clear cut vision road map.The people too have strong reservations and had demonstrated for there rights many a times but there vows were never heard in the corridors of power like ever but only time will tell in which direction the horse will mount.
Judges appointmentLocals should be givenpriority
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Association (GBBA) has demanded of the federal government to appoint locals against the vacant posts of judges in the Supreme Appellate Court, Gilgit.In a meeting of the bar chaired by president High Court Bar Association Amjad Hussain advocate here the following day the bar passed a unanimous resolution for immediate filling of the vacant posts in the supreme appellate court.The bar said that people of the region were suffering due to absence of judges but government was doing nothing in this regard. They slammed the PCO judges saying that no PCO judge will be accepted in the supreme appellate court.”The government is benefiting from PCO judges and due to which the local judges and advocates of the region are facing lots of problems”, the deplored. They said that the likely appointment of controversial judge Nawaz Abbasi will ever be accepted and the bar will go the very limits to stop the retired judge’s appointment in the region. They criticized PPP government for nominating retired judges and said due to this act of the federal government the supports of PPP in Gilgit-Baltistan were embarrassed. Senior vice president High Court Bar Association Ateequr Rehman advocate said if any retired non local judge is nominated, the people and the lawyers’ forum will protest.
Put your own house in order first:Fazal told
By Our Correspondent
Lahore: The newly elected president of Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO), Lahore Shams u Rehman has condemned chairman Kashmir committee Moulana Fazlur Rehman’s statement and regarded it result of a lack of knowledge.He said from the last sixty one years the people were struggling for there legitimate rights and nobody will be allowed a negative interpretation.’Maulana should first think of his motherland which is constituently a part of Pakistan but writ of the state is sabotaged at every step and the people are fighting with there own army’, he maintained.He said Maulana is habitual of dismantling the truth and when a leading journalist of Jang group, Ansar Abasi uncovered the story of land granted to Maulana in lieu of seventeenth amendment he accused him of spying for the Jews.He suggested that being chairman of Kashmir committee Maulana should visit Gilgit-Baltistan and try to understand depths of the issues. Expressing his concern over the contradictory statements regarding constitutional status and rights, he said there is no mention of Gilgit-Baltistan in the constitution of Pakistan and the judiciary of the country too has termed it a disputed region so government should think carefully before talking about fifth province or Azad Kashmir like set up.He said the political heavy weights of Islamabad talk about issues of Gilgit-Baltistan without bothering to understand the very basics of it and said the leadership of Gilgit- Baltistan to stop bowing before them because solution of the issue is not in the limits of these leaders in the corridors of power.
Thousands protest against police high-handedness
By Our Reporter
Rawalpindi: Thousands of activists belonging to various political, nationalist and religious parties of Gilgit-Baltistan protested against police highhandedness, arrest and implicating of innocent people in a kidnapping for ransom case by police.Thirteen people belonging to Gilgit Baltistan and Kohistan were arrested in Rawalpindi against charges of kidnapping for ransom case but no information was found against the arrested persons in any policy station of the city.The protestors were holding placards inscribed with the slogans of police high-handedness and demanded the immediate release of convicted and suspension of the police personnel uninvolved.Addressing the gathering member northern areas legislative assembly Muhammad Akhter said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are peace loving but that dose not mean that any one can do any thing to them, he appealed president of Pakistan to probe into the matter and said we have always been deprived and facing injustices but this wont go long.Leader Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Shafqat Ali Enqilabi while addressing the gathering said we are exploited since last sixty one years but it won’t last long. He appealed the demonstrators to get united and said it dose not mater that to which particular religious or political party you belong but you should remember that you belong to Gilgit Baltistan and for that you have to forget your political and ideological affiliations and struggle for the region. He said if the convicted are not released within 48 hours Sost boarder and KKH will be blocked.Demonstrators belonged to Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO), Baltistan Students Federation (BSF), Peoples Students Federation (PSF), Karakurum Students Organisation (KSO) and other regional and federal political parties.
Bureaucrats must start packing up their luggage soon: Akbar
By Our Special Correspondent
KARACHI: Giglit-Baltistan suffered a lot under bureaucratic rule but the days of the rulers from the centre are numbered now, as a democratic society has emerged due to untiring struggle of the sons of the soil, who were able to highlight this issue at international level.These views were expressed by Khan Akbar Khan, ex-member District Council Ghizer while talking to journalists here the other day. He demanded the government to restore the political and constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan. He lauded the sacrifices and role of BNF’s exiled Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan.The issue of Gilgit-Baltistan is now well addressed at international level, he said, adding that it is not easy to suppress the region like past. Highlighting the historical struggle of nationalists, he maintained that when the nationalists raised voice against the access and injustices done to the region in 1997 they were brutally tortured by bureaucracy which is an undeniable example of state-terrorism and since then BNF’s exiled chairman played a vital role in uniting the nationalist movements and brining the issue to lame light of the united nation which is praise worthy.He further said it was due to efforts of Mr Khan, the world came to know about the reality of Gilgit-Baltistan issue. “Now it is not the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan only but international community has also been involved in it”, he added.”This success of the exiled chairman has burnt the nights of the illegal conquerors of Gilgit-Baltistan and they are propagating hard to blackmail his party but it is the good luck of the nation and the undaunted struggle of Mr Khan that the international community is closely monitoring the injustices done to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan”, he opined.He demanded the government to accept the previous political and constitutional status of Republic of Gilgit-Baltistan and allow the exiled chairman to return back to continue his struggle in a democratic way. He warned the government to stop the propaganda against the exiled chairman otherwise a nation-wide protest will be initiated against the government.
Rulers warned to stop propaganda againstBNF chief
By Our Special Correspondent
Karachi: Giglit-Baltistan has been made a no-man’s land by the bureaucracy but the issue has been raised at the international level and the bureaucracy’s days in the region are numbered.These views were expressed by Khan Akbar Khan, ex-member District Council Ghizer, while talking to journalists here. He demanded that the political and constitutional status of the former republic of Gilgit-Baltisan should be accepted. He also applauded the sacrifice and role of BNF exiled Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan.He said the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan has been highlighted at the international level and it is not easy to suppress the region like in the past. Highlighting the historical struggle of nationalists, he said when the nationalists raised voice against the excesses and injustices done with the region in 1997 they were tortured by the bureaucracy which was an example of state terrorism.He said since then, BNF’s exiled chairman has played a vital role in uniting the nationalists and brining the issue to limelight at the world forums including the United Nations. He said it was due to Abdul Hamid Khan that the world came to know about the reality of the Gilgit-Baltistan issue.
Failed state not acceptable: KNM
Chilas: Leader Karakurum National Movement (KNM) Ghufran Batukhel has said that religious, military and political troika’s controversial statements have embarrassed the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.Talking to Bange Sahar here, he said troika has plunged the country into an ocean of poverty, ignorance and deprivation. He accused the establishment for looting the ruling party and said whenever Pakistan felt a danger it turned face from Kashmir issue.He said people of Gilgit-Baltistan should get united to struggle for the national cause. He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will never want to be part of a failed state.
Renaming NAs not to change its destiny: Ali
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: Renowned nationalist and progressive activist of Gilgit-Baltistan Sher Ali, a senior advocate has said that problems of the region cannot be solved by changing its name, however, the unanimous resolution of renaming the region as Gilgit-Baltistan by the so-called northern areas legislative assembly is not less than a miracle.Talking to journalists here he said that a number of resolutions were approved by the assembly in the past but not a single one was implemented practically. He slammed the local political leadership saying that despite knowing their capacity, the members of legislative assembly are befooling people.He accused the KANA division and federal government for depriving the region of its legitimate rights and said whenever any step is taken by local leadership regarding constitutional status they announce packages which only benefits the members of legislative assembly.He maintained that people of the region are living very miserable lives but KANA division cares only for the members of legislative assembly.
No compromise on dam royalty, NALA told
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Northern Areas Chief Executive Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan told the legislative assembly on Thursday that he had made it clear to the federal government that there would be no compromise on the rights of Diamer-Bhasha dam’s royalty, adding the centre had agreed in principal to give the people of Gilgit-Baltistan the right.He said during a meeting with the prime minister, he had demanded that the rights of the region should be ensured.The house witnessed a heated debate on a resolution tabled by Fida Mohammad Nahshad regarding creation of new districts in Skardu comprising Kharmang and Shigar subdivisions. The resolution was, however, passed despite demand by Haider Khan and Ali Murad to also make Yasin and Gupis as well as Darel and Tangir subdivisions as new districts.The house endorsed the resolution of Amna Ansari demanding formation of Gilgit-Baltistan Education Foundation, but Haider Khan opposed the name Gilgit-Baltistan and said it was not approved by the government so this could not be called as an official name.Adviser on food and information Sikandar Ali told the house that the food department did not issue licences for establishment of mills rather it was the department of industries which had the power.
Hunza hit by food and power shortage
By Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA-NAGAR: The people of Hunza-Gojal are facing hardships due to electricity outages and shortage of wheat supply. The power situation is worsening, as winter is getting harsher. The unchecked increase in the prices of gas, wood and other energy sources has further aggravated the problems of the local people. Despite protests and demonstrations, authorities are unable to solve the problem. The NAPWD has further increased the load shedding duration in central and lower Hunza while the people of upper Hunza-Gojal are facing unannounced outages. People are also complaining about irregularities in supply and distribution of subsidised wheat and flour in the valley. According to sources, the Civil Supply depot in Aliabad, Hunza has storage of only 150 bags of wheat, which is not enough, even for one day. The General Secretary of All Hunza Union Council in a statement said that Amir Khan, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Hunza, had announced an increase in quota of 5,144 bags of wheat for Hunza bit it was simply to end the shutter down strike. He said Hunza was receiving the wheat quota according to 1998 population census. He demanded to ensure storage of wheat for three months as the region was totally dependent on KKH for supply.Aziz Jan, Chairman Union Council Gojal-1charged that officials were distributing local quota among the non-local government employees and favourites. He said these officials were also involved in smuggling the wheat out of the union council.He said the Union Council has not received 700 bags of wheat from the quota. He called upon the local administration to develop proper mechanism for the equal distribution of wheat and flour among the people. He said AC Hunza had assured him to investigate this issue and avoid such incidents in future. He complained that the employees at Khyber Power station were not properly fulfilling their duties and were violating the load-shedding schedule in different villages.The owner of the Hunza Flour Mill Hassanabad also complained regarding delays in supply of wheat, which ultimately resulted in delay of supply of flour to local dealers. Talking to this correspondent, Socrat Aman Rana, Assistant Commissioner, Hunza, said that with the onset of winter the demand for electricity had increased forcing NAPWD to increase the load shedding hours. He said the Hassanabad Power station had the capacity to produce only 1100 KW while the actual demand was for 3300 KW. He said the diesel generators were not functional as fund was not available for fuel.Regarding the wheat shortage, he said that he would hold a meeting with the Civil Supply Organization officials soon in order to discuss the problem. He said Hunza had a little shortfall in wheat quota till October but the quota for November was not received. He said the situation would get better after the opening of newly constructed bridge on KKH. He said NATCO had assured trucks for timely transportation of wheat.
The musician tribes of Gilgit Baltistan
By Noor Muhammad
Our beautiful valleys reverberate with ecstatic sounds of the drum and melodious voice of the pipe, as the hypnotic human yells echo, synchronized with the sounds of clapping and laughter, and we dance, celebrating this or that event. Very few people notice the three, or six or nine musicians, depending on the ‘status’ of the party thrower, that are producing these wonderful rhythms of sound.They play the instruments, we dance. They enhance our happiness and we enhance their sufferings. We consider them inferior, even if their art is the nectar of our happiness and their mastery of the art the solace of pride.All rhetoric about the teachings of Islam and humanity come trembling down, as one looks at the plight of the thousands of musicians – by inheritance in different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The ancient societies have systematically discriminated against these artists, their families and always considered them as the other, the inferiors, practically, the creatures of a lesser God!The ancient and existing social systems of hatred, ridicule, neglect and discrimination directed at them have affected these fellow human beings to the extent that not only they refuse to share their language with rest of us, they also don’t communicate in the language of their ancestors, inside their homes. Seldom have groups of human beings suffered so much at the hands of their fellow human beings.Such attitude towards the master musicians who have not only given us wonderful music but are also custodians of a language that is unique to them, but part of our region’s collective cultural heritage!!Many people argue that there has been a slight shift in attitudes towards the profession of musicians over the past decade. They cite the example of KADO’s efforts for de-casting the profession of musicians, by encouraging and facilitating youth from tribes other than the Bayris, to learn the skills for playing traditional musical instruments and, more importantly, use their mastery of the instruments for earning their livelihood. This, definitely, is tantamount to hammering the chains of stigmatization and exclusion. Thanks to the efforts of KADO, today, playing traditional musical instruments is no more a hereditary profession.However, we, the youth, need to reflect on how much has our attitude changed towards the musicians and what strategies and steps need to be devised, further, to bring the musician tribes into the social mainstream.One step in this regard can be launching of initiatives, at individual and organizational levels, where the elders and youth belonging to the traditional musician tribes are able to express themselves, artistically, through music, dance, poetry and photographs, telling us more and more about their feelings, their conditions, their language and other elements of cultural heritage.Taking such a step is important because the elder generation of the traditional musician tribes is decreasing, with every passing day. The younger generation, gradually modernizing their modes of livelihood and integrating with rest of the region’s community might not be fully aware of the rich traditions that are unique to them. One of these examples is the Domaki language.While the musicians have successfully kept their language to themselves, they have been expressing themselves – their hatred, love, affection, distrust and resentment, through music, it is commonly believed in Hunza.The musicians in Hunza, at least, were required to play music for the rulers of the fiefdom, as they prepared to sleep. In Wakhi this particular tune is known as “Eynuk-e-Soz” (The tune of sleep). The tune, many believe, is full of abuses for the ancient rulers, who would make the musicians play – not caring for their sleep needs, while attempting to enter the valley of dreams themselves, riding on the beats of Dadang, Damal and the voice of Surinai.But such expressions might not be confined to the ruling elite, only, because they were not the only discriminators against the musicians. The entire society, rich or poor, ruler or subject, men or women and young or old discriminated against the musicians so we can expect that there might be some other musical tunes or “Hareeps” directed at rest of the society, as well.Decoding such rare and creative expression of human feelings, if they exist, against social injustice could be a proof that human beings don’t enjoy ‘disempowerment’, be that political, economic or cultural. Besides, it will also help preservation of the unique heritage of the musicians.It is impossible to expect such a step from a careless government that has not been able to provide adequate food, health, education and water to its citizens. Resourceful and relevant local NGOs can create such projects, with or without the help of national and international organizations.
Gilgit second largest potato producer after Bolochistan
By Tika Khan
Northern Areas by virtue of its geography and climate offer heavenly conditions to several vegetables and fruits. Northern Areas stand parallel to Balouchistan province in potato production and its sale is around 30,000 metric tones-MT per year.Sindh is lagging far behind in this regard and produces only 2712 MT, however, Punjab and NWFP are the leaders in this respect and produce 2407483 and 129529MT respectively.Farmer community across Northern Areas and down country in general and Hunza/Nagar particularly witnessed 2008 very cruel and risky.Inflated rates of chemical fertilizers and transportation critically anguished the poor farmer community across the regions.In 2006 fertilizers was available for around Rs800, which soared to Rs2200 in 2007-8. Most of the poor farmers across the regions did not use Nitrophos, which is important to reclaim fertility in the fields because farmers do not practice crop rotation methods.Inaccessibility to chemical fertilizers was observed as a major cause of meager potato production. Farmer communities in the regions of Hunza/Nagar sold only 12250 MT which is almost 25% less than the previous year-2007.In terms of cash earning from potato sale, farmers remained fluky for selling 100KG bag for Rs1500 (average) as compared to Rs800 in 2007. During 2007 farmers from the region had earned Rs122.5 million rupees which increased up to Rs183.75m in 2008 with a net increase of 61m. Inflated fertilizer prices throughout the year impacted negatively on an overall production of potato but were fortunate for having reasonable sale price. Bridge accident at Gilgit took off more than 20m from farmers as potato contractors paid extra pennies for potato transportation across the suspension bridge Chinar Bagh Gilgit at a rate of Rs150-200 per bag. Contractors charged this amount directly from the poor farmers.Another reason for decreased production was the low price in 2007 i.e. Rs.800 in an average, whereas in some cases farmers had bitter experience of selling potatoes just for 300-400 rupees per bag. This type of astringent experiences equally influenced the farmers’ psyche to think beyond potato resulting in poor production.2009 production depends on the subsidies by the government on chemical fertilizers, however, wheat and flour crisis in the area for the last several months has compelled the farmer community to think towards wheat cropping. In rest of the country, farmers will enjoy the facility of crop insurances that can encourage farmer community to work hard in their fields but there is no such a service/facility introduced in the northern areas and farmer community is looking towards their masters to decide their fate.According to the estimates and predictions by the Economist Intelligent Unit-UK, agricultural production growth in the country will rise by 2.7 percent in 2009 but this seems to be a dream in Northern Areas’ context, where multiple factors decide the entire process. Agriculture bank limited has not yet written off small loans valuing upto Rs.50,000 which was announced by the then president, Musharaf. Subsidies on agriculture commodities, field to market access, proviso of irrigation water, agriculture financing and provision of crop insurance can help thousands of farmers across the regions in Gilgit-Baltistan to contribute into national income and self sufficiency level.
Will things change..?
By Rubab Ruby
The chain of events taking place in the forsaken land of ours had given me the notion that something is going to change but I was mistaken. I had really not understood the very basis of our politics. Granting of Azad Kashmir like set up, reopening of Skardu Kargil route, nationalist’s successful rallies and seminars and renaming of the region but than came the sad Mumbai carnage which gave every thing a U-turns. Every move regarding resolution of Kashmir dispute and good ties between Pakistan and India is alleged to conspire against the carnage and once more we are back in the early nineties. Isn’t it folly????We seem to be like that enthusiastic child who starts running and runs tremendously but when the childhood stamina speaks, the child falls down and remains where he was at the start of the race. Mumbai carnage revealed that we were slaves, we are slaves and if beurocracy and religious puppets are given this freehand we will remain slave. my phrases should not be taken as the extreme negativity or state of low esteem instead one should ponder upon the system that we dwell in. A state where beurocray and uniforms rule, where religion is taken not as a cod of ethics but a tool to conspire and religious leaders are not scholars or those with a scholastic approach but mere illiterates paid by the intelligence agencies to work for underground cause. Where legislators are criminals involved in heinous crimes against women in the name of cultural and where those making laws make it for the ‘public minus themselves’ where press is but a mere puppet or loud speaker of one particular group or school of thought, where news and opinions have no worth but to fill the space of a newspaper, where a successful journalist is one who can write to length in favor of every ruler.Can one expect any true movement to gain grounds in such conditions? The answer would of course be a big no! The way in which the Azad Kashmir like set up was propagated by the local leadership of PPP reminds me of my childhood tale. The story called sleeping beauty. it seemed as if the political heavy weights of Gilgit Baltistan are finally awaken but no they never will wake no matter the nation sinks in an occasion of deprivations they will remain in the state of comma as long as they get there monthly salaries from the federal capital. A political leader alleged some unseen hands for conspiring to make Gilgit Baltistan a mini Israel. That was not all but he went a step forward and explained the conspiracy theory in the light of his own limited negative knowledge but our local leadership cheered instead of uttering any justification or clarity. To rub salt into the wounds that bearded man is no one else but chairman Kashmir committee. Will we get the very bite of what we deserve if such leaders are given the reins of our future? Will we get anything like independence or rights and last but not the least has Mr. Moulana got any slightest idea of the ever repeated word called rights? A man for whom female is nothing but a child producing machine, a child is bred for nothing but to fight in the name of God and education means nothing but rot learning of the holy Quran and every thing that deviates from his idea is forbidden. Every person who disagrees with him is an infidel. Any one pointing out his mistakes is a spy of Jews and Jews… well the very word irritates this man. They are alive and this is forbidden as Mr. Chairman Calls they are alive because to provide the Muslims with the key to heaven.This as every one knows is the killing of Jews. Anything that is made by Jews is haraam according to this man but he feels comfortable with Pepsi, nokia and all other technological machines made by Jews.Granting such a person with such sensitive position makes any sense? Will this man resolve Kashmir issue? Is anyone from both sides of Kashmir prepared to talk to this man? Will such conservative extremists in the corridors of power do any good to the Kashmir cause than top sabotage it? It is not that Mr. Zardari found Moulana the best option but he bestowed Moulana just to make his dangling position in the coalition. Every politico plays the Kashmir cause just to elongate his days in office. People of Gilgit Baltistan and both sides of Kashmir need to struggle on there own. They need to make there own decisions they need to take there rights not beg there rights. Other wise people like Moulana will come and o and the people of Jamu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan will get nothing but allegations of plying for incidents like the sad Mumbai carnage. We need to assure the world that we believe in a peaceful struggle and we struggle on own powers for our own rights and should save our movement from the dirty eyes of paid politicians.
Politics on Kargil
These days, all of a sudden the over 13-years-old Kargil operation is in the news not only in Pakistan and India but all over the world. In May 1999, the personnel of Northern Light Infantry (NLI) were sent across the line of control to Kargil to take over the Indian army posts and attack them when they returned in the spring. At first, Pakistan announced that they were Kashmiri Mujahiddeen but soon it dawned upon the world that the intruders were regular army personnel belonging to the NLI of Gilgit-Baltistan. These Jawans of the NLI were sent into the Indian side of the LOC by then chief of army staff Gen Pervez Musharraf and his close circle without even the other top brass of the army taken into confidence. When the situation seemed getting out of the hand of the army, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif reached Washington and pleaded the US president Bill Clinton to help him reach a ceasefire with India. As a result the operation came to an end but without any benefit to Islamabad. On the other hand, hundreds of NLI personnel were killed during the misadventure and bodies of many of them still remain scattered at Kargil as the government of Pakistan refused to accept them as its army men. N Now after over a decade, the debate to investigate the Kargil operation is totally political and has nothing to do with the matter in the first place. It is intriguing that the issue has been brought to the limelight again when elections are approaching fast. When the Kargil operation ended in a fiasco, the then army chief could not tolerate the humiliation and sent the elected prime minister of the day packing in a coup and took over the charge and ruled over the country for about nine years. Nawaz Sharif was first sentenced to death in the plane hijacking case and then under a clandestine deal sent to Saudi Arabia on exile where he lived for many years. It is also debatable how a prime minister who came to power with a heavy mandate and appointed his own handpicked director general of the ISI could not get the wind of the Kargil operation when it was being planned and launched by Pervez Musharraf and his close circle. Today the same Nawaz Sharif says that Musharraf kept him in the dark and put the security of the nation at stake and launched the clandestine operation that ended in failure. The question here is that if Nawaz Sharif comes to power would he investigate the Kargil war, would he also be in the dock because he is also a character in the fiasco. Is it all being done as an election ploy to get votes? Who is the actual culprit of the Kargil war, this can only be determined through non-partisan and neutral experts. Another issue is that Gilgit-Baltitan was used for the misadventure and hundreds of young men from this land were killed. Their families were even not provided the opportunity to have last glimpse of their bodies and perform the last rituals. Though it is another matter that by awarding one Nishane Haider and some other medals an effort was made to silence the people of the area. The families of these martyred personnel and people of the region are justified to know what were the objectives of the Kargil operation and who were behind it. Was it the ambition of a single general who put the security of the whole region at risk or were there some other motives? Pakistan had also launched another such operation called Jibralter in 1965 with the motive to liberate Kasshmir but it led to a full-fledged war with India. However, Pakistani leaders instead of learning a lesson from these blunders continue to repeat them. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took advantage of blunders made by Gen Ayub Khan while Zardari took advantage of the mistakes made by Musharraf. But we are of the view that there would be no possibility of probing the Kargil fiasco by an international body of experts. As such, Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif one after the other will be taking advantage of the fiasco by using it for their political ambitions.
I can build Diamer, Bunji dams in five years:
By Our Correspondent..
ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said if he was given the chance, he would resolve the power crisis in the country by constructing the Diamer and Bunji dams within five years. He stated this during a meeting with PML-N Gilgit-Baltistan chief Hafiz Hafizur Rehman here. Mr Sharif also said that if the PML-N comes to power in the forthcoming elections, he would like to be inducted as minister for water and power so that he can work for the resolution of the power crisis by constructing dams which Pakistan has plenty of potential to build. He said after resolving the power crisis, he would be ready to retire from politics. The chief minister said that Gilgit-Baltistan was a strategically important region but the PPP government had ignored it during the last about five years. He said if his party comes to power, he would launch unprecedented development schemes in the region. He regretted that despite given the offer of establishment of a cardiac hospital, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan did not take interest. On the other hand, the governments of KPK and Balochistan approached the provincial government of Punjab requesting it to set up cardiac hospitals in their provinces. On their requests, we established two hospitals one in each province at a cost of two billion rupees, he added. He said he was planning to set up cardiac hospitals in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. The chief minister of Punjab also said that his government would set up a children hospital in Gilgit-Baltistan. On this occasion, the chief minister also sanctioned Rs500 million for the educational expenses of 65 students from Gilgit-Baltistan who are studying in technical colleges of Punjab. Like medical colleges, he also ordered that the quota of Gilgit-Baltistan students in all the engineering colleges in the province should be doubled. However, he added, that the Punjab Engineering Council had raised objection to this direction and he was going to talk to the prime minister of Pakistan to get the order implemented. After doubling of the seats, the number of students from GB would reach 28, he added. The chief minister said that 70 students from Gilgit-Baltistan were studying in medical colleges of Punjab and all their expenses were being footed by the Punjab government. He added that 1200 students from Gilgit-Baltistan have so far been given laptops by the provincial government of Punjab. He also said that 800 students from GB who would obtain 800 or more marks in the SSC and FSc exams would be provided free education in the educational institutions of Punjab. He said the GB government had already been informed about this offer of the Punjab government. On this occasion, the PML-N leader from Gilgit-Baltistan briefed the chief minister about the political situation in the region. He also thanked him for providing facilities to the students from GB in the province.
GB part of Kashmir
By Our Coresspondent
GILGIT: Parliamentary secretary and leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan Rehmat Khaliq has said that the issue of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is to be resolved under the UN resolution. Addresing a rally taken out in connection with the Kashmir solidarity day here, he said that Gilgit-Baltistan was part of Kashmir and the peoples of the two regions cannot be separated from each other. He said that some people were misguiding the masses by issuing baseless statements to the media. He said that unless we sit together and devise a joint plan our issues remain unresolved. The JUP leader said that the people of the region had been denied their basic rights for the last about 65 years and it was time the masses launched a decisive struggle to get their rights. He said in the past the people of GB had been standing by their brothers in Kashmir and they would be at their side in future as well.
‘Officials should not follow illegal govt orders’
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim league (PML-N) Gilgit-Baltistan chief Hafiz Hafizur Rehman has said that government employees in the region should not follow illegal and unjustified directions given to them by the chief minister and his cabinet members. He said like in Pakistan, the government in Gilgit-Baltistan will be facing accountability very soon. It may be noted here that generally it is the perception of the people that the PPP-led government in Islamabad would not be able to form government after the forthcoming general election to be held in May this year. After the tenure of the federal government ends, it would be difficult for the GB government to complete its tenure which ends in the year 2014. Talking to this correspondent here, Hafiz Hafizur Rehman said chief secretary Sajjad Salim Hotiana nad secretaries had set a good example of not following the illegal and unjustified demands and orders of the chief minister and his cabinet members. He said Hotiana had been brought to the office by the chief minister and his coterie but now when he is not toeing the lines of the rulers, the latter have launched a campaign against him. Earlier, he added, the same treatment was meted out to the former chief secretary Saifullah Chatha. He said that the people of the region were behind the bureaucrats and they have become fed up with the corrupt chief minister and his ministers who have failed to deliver during the last so many years. The PML-N leader said that he was of the opinion that after change of guards in Islamabad elections should also be held in Gilgit-Baltistan so that a new government can come to power. He said with the installation of a new government in Islamabad, his party would launch a drive in all districts of the region not for toppling the regime but to put the rulers on accountability. He said during the last about three years, the PML-N Gilgit-Baltistan had been trying its best through peaceful means to put the corrupt government on right track but it did not leave any impact on the rulers. He said after coming to power the PPP government had broken all record of corruption and bad governance and made the lives of the masses in the miserable. The PML-N leader said that the people of the area had become fed up with the rulers and wanted a change to improve their life.
A tribute to Chitral’s polo legend
By Our Coresspondent
CHITRAL: What strikes everyone about Chitral’s free style polo legend late Sardar Ahmed Khan is that he started playing the game at the tender age of 14 years and continued to shine in the field with the same zeal and vigour till his death on January 27, 2013. People of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan knew Sardar Ahmed as the captain of the Chitral-B team during the annual Shandur polo festivals. Inside Chitral, he used to play for the subdivision Mastuj and Kosht teams. With his death, a chapter in the free style polo has closed. Rudyard Kipling once termed polo as the game of kings and the king of games and his narrative has become part of the world’s classical literature. In the past, Kipling’s observation of polo as being the game of kings might have been wrong in the sense that polo once was everyone’s craze irrespective of the people’s socio-economic status. However, nowadays keeping horses has become a luxury and is confined to only the rich and elite class. But Sardar Ahmed qualified to be included among the king’s class as his farms housing a good number of horses of high breed, hounds, cows and oxen was not less sumptuous than those owned by ruling class and princess. Sardar Ahmed, who was born in the Mohmmad Begey tribe, had the temperament and likes similar to the old days’ princes, Nawabs, and elites of the subcontinent and the Central Asian states. Some of the known personalities of Chitral belonged to the family of Sardar Ahmed. They included Tariqullah, Abdus Samad Khan, Mohammad Rasul Khan, Mohamamd Ibal Khan and Mohamamd Saeed Khan. Prominent Khowar poet Mohammad Siyar gave the title of ‘Yaltar Kutaz’, which signifies bravery and valour, to Abdus Samad Khan. Mohammad Ibal Khan alias Dush Hakim was one of the prominent personalities of Chitral in the 20th century. The British rulers of the Indian subcontinent in their gazetteer had special mention of Mohammad Ibal Khan. Mohamamd Nadir Khan, one of Mohamamd Iqbal’s sons, made a niche in the literary circle through his poetry. His Khowar songs even today mesmerize people of the valley. Mohammad Saeed Khan made a name in local politics and during Field Martial Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies (BD) system he was elected as the chairman of the local council. Sardar Ahmed Khan was the elder son of Mohammad Saeed Khan. He was born in Kosht and passed his matriculation exam from the same village in 1972. During his school days, he started playing polo from the ground of Kosht. In 1976, when he was just 22 years of age, Sardar Ahmed was awarded Chitral’s highest award in polo called Polo Colour. This prestigious award was given to only the shining stars of the game. Continued on Page-4 A teacher by profession, Sardar Ahmed during his 44-year-long polo career won a large number of awards and brought homes numerous trophies and other awards. He also led his team to victory in 26 high-profile matches. Being a star of the game, it is acknowledged by all that Sardar Ahmed never deviated from the sportsmanship spirit. During his long career, it is said he never hurt the sentiment anyone neither got into even any altercation in the field. Rather, he was the one who always come forward to resolve on-the-field issues and asked others to avoid confrontation. Apart from his popularity in the sports, it was his humane nature of personality and love for peace that when the news of his death spread in the area, a large number of people reached his home and attended his funeral. Indeed in the death of Sardar Ahmed, we have not only lost a popular polo player but also a known personality who spent his life in promoting peace, harmony and tolerance. May his legacy live on.-chitraltoday.net
Mass protest against non-construction of bridge
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The residents of Hatoon valley, situated across Ghizer River of Gahkuch, headquarters of Ghizer District, continued their protest after their demands of reconstruction of suspension bridge was not met. Reports reaching here said in an extreme weather condition the residents continued their protest and renewed their pledge to go on a strike for indefinite period in case immediate steps for reconstructions are not taken. The suspension bridge that was swept away two years back by flash floods cut off the valley and people have to go a long way to reach district head quarters. The dwellers resorted to protest after their repeated requests were not entertained by the concerned authorities and they faced great difficulties. Patients and elderly citizens are worst hit by delay in construction of this bridge which was swept in 2010 floods. The protestors in a telephonic call told this correspondent that the Governor, Chief Minister and Chief Secretary issued directives for reconstruction of this bridge which was mere eyewash as there are no serious efforts. The protest staged on the busiest point of the small town would further continue if authorities don’t come to give solid assurance of addressing problems, the protestors vowed.
Hospital fee levy not my decision, says minister
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Health minister Haji Gulbar Khan has said that the decision to charge Rs200 from patients at the public sector hospitals of Gilgit-Baltistan had been taken by the chief minister without taking him into confidence. Talking to this correspondent here, the minister said that Chief Minister Mehdi Shah was interfering in the affairs of ministers and taking decisions unilaterally. He said to charge fee from the poor patients was not justified. It would not help resolve the financial crisis of the region but will bring a bad name to the government, he added. He said that eh was not in support of such a decision. He added that the chief minister had taken the decision after consulting the matter with the secretary health. The minister said that providing basic healthcare facilities to the masses was the responsibility of the government. Instead of ensuring all the facilities in the hospitals, the government ahs decided to put more burden on the poor patients.
NDMA, Focus ink deals on capacity building
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), signed a memorandum of understanding in Islamabad, says a press release. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qadri, Chairman NDMA, and Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer FOCUS Pakistan, signed the MoU, which entails cooperation in the field of capacity building of staff members and resource mobilization for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programmes; initiation and execution of joint DRR projects, based on the Public-Private-Partnership model and shared advocacy for mainstreaming of Disaster Risk Reduction by enhancing response capacity and awareness at different levels. Federal Minister for Climate Change, Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan, was also present at the signing ceremony. As part of the MoU, the two organisations will exchange knowledge and expertise, contributing towards improvement of planning, preparedness and response capacity in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction. In the past, NDMA and FOCUS have worked collaboratively on multiple projects implemented in different parts of the country. The MoU will initially remain valid for three years, till 2016. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, NDMA Chairman, said that the human induced and natural hazards facing Pakistan are immense and the risks can be reduced through collaboration and cooperation at different levels. He expressed hope that the MoU between NDMA and FOCUS Pakistan will pave ways for promoting DRR at the national level. Ms. Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan said that the different agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network and its affiliated institutions have been contributing to the development of Pakistan for many decades now. She said that Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change are among the top concerns of the century and the challenges can be overcome by working closely with relevant government departments. She termed the signing of the MoU as an important step in the right direction and acknowledged the able leadership of Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qadri for making it possible.
Cases against Zardari closed for ever
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Money laundering and graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in the courts of Switzerland cannot be reopened, says a letter by the Swiss authorities in response to the communication sent by the Pakistan government following the Supreme Court’s order. Federal Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Farooq H Naek revealed this on Saturday. The cases against President Zardari, his late spouse Benazir Bhutto and others were closed in the Swiss courts in 2009 after then Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Malik Muhammad Qayyum wrote a letter to the Swiss authorities concerned in this regard. Earlier, on the orders of the Supreme Court in the NRO case, the government had written a letter to the Swiss authorities to withdraw the letter written by the AGP. The Swiss authorities, after a detailed perusal of the letter in the light of the law of the land, informed the Pakistan government that the cases against President Asif Ali Zardari could not be reopened. Farooq H Naek said that the letter of the Swiss authorities was delivered to President Zardari. On the issue of writing the letter to the Swiss authorities, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was found guilty of contempt of court and was disqualified by the Supreme Court. Afterwards, incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf complied with the SC orders and wrote the letter to withdraw the earlier letter written by the AGP but the letter could not get the cases against Zardari reopened. According to the BBC, in the letter received by the Law Ministry, the Swiss authorities state that Asif Ali Zardari, being the president, has complete immunity, and till Zardari holds the office of the president, no prosecution can take place against him.
Kalash customs through the eyes of a girl
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: In a remote valley at the Afghan-Pakistan border, the last 3,000 Kalash pagans live encircled by a community of Muslims and Afghan refugees. At the approach of the winter, they pray, dance and sing to celebrate the rebirth of the seasons and their culture. Among them, a young woman must choose between making a change in all aspects of her life or let her traditions endure. This is the theme of an award-winning documentary by Swiss filmmaker, Gael Metroz, which was screened for a select number of guests at the residence of the Ambassador of Switzerland and Mrs Bubb. Welcoming his guests, the ambassador said a few words about the filmmaker adding that he and his wife Regula value the cultural diversity of Pakistan and therefore they had decided to screen the documentary, which showcased the people of the Kalash Valley Hoping the audience would be just as engrossed by the film as they were, he invited them all to stay on for refreshments after the screening. Gael lived in the Kalash Valley for a year – it is one of the ‘fragile cultures’ of the world, with a fast dwindling population that is either migrating to other parts of Pakistan for a better living conditions or is being pressurised to change its traditional way of life by economic constraints and the wave of religious dogma that is sweeping the country. The documentary, titled, ‘Kalash – The Last of the Infidels’ tells the story of the customs, rituals and practices of the Kalash through the eyes of a young girl who favours the traditional way of life. It is fascinating to see the different aspects of their lifestyle and the fact that they remain cheerful although life is difficult in many ways, especially if you have never visited the area. After the film, Ambassador Bubb asked Siraj ul Mulk, who hails from the ruling family of Chitral, to say a few words. Siraj explained the reasons for the dwindling population, but said there was hope it would survive. In this context he mentioned a British author who had written about the Kalash in 1850 and stated they would survive at the most another twenty years! “That was over a century ago and they are still there,” he said. In 2004 Gael Metroz graduated in French Literature, Philosophy and Art History at the University of Lausanne. He has been awarded with many literary prizes, such as the Prix de la Sorge in 2004 and the Prix Nicolas Bouvier in 2008. After writing and directing the play L’Enfant Dechu, he decided to focus on his career as an author, director and journalist. In order to let the journey around the world come to an expression through images, Metroz didn’t stop filming while he travelled to Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Burma, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, India and Nepal. While working as a journalist, he published his experiences on television, on the radio and in several newspapers.
We do not need any lecture on democracy: PM
By Our Correspondent
DASU: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf while referring to the government’s critics said that it did not need any lessons on democracy. The prime minister laid the foundation stone for the Rs2 billion, 63-km-long Thakot-Dasu road and vowed to continue development work for the masses and the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), despite opposition. Addressing a gathering after the ceremony, Raja announced a 40 percent raise in the “Hard Area Allowance” for Kohistan. He also directed WAPDA chairman to immediately fulfil the promises made to the local people and warned of swift action in case of non-compliance. The prime minister directed repair of local schools by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (ERRA) and promised increase in quota of the area in medical and engineering colleges. Raja was earlier briefed about the Thakot-Dasu road, which will be constructed in 30 months and provide an easy access to the 4,320MW Dasu Power Project, besides serving as an alternative route to the Karakoram Highway. The prime minister strongly dismissed criticism against the developmental projects of the government. “We will not stop serving the masses or stop developmental work as it benefits them.” He also rejected the criticism against the Benazir Income Support Program and said it was a service for the poorest of the poor and will not be allowed to end. He said the people of Pakistan will continue to support this programme, through the power of the ballot. Raja said BISP will continue and will further expand. He told those who were criticising it that the government will raise the disbursement amount to Rs 5,000 and even Rs 10,000. Prime Minister Raja said the government did not have time to indulge in mudslinging or counter the propaganda of the critics, as it was busy initiating developmental projects for the masses. “There is no need to teach us what is democracy and how to serve the masses,” he said while referring to the critics on television talk shows. “We are not among those who run away, we will stand up and fight the critics and prove that the people of Pakistan see the PPP as a sign of hope that will not shy from any sacrifice in serving them,” Raja asserted. He lauded the work of MNA Mehboobullah Jan for initiating the arduous task of constructing 29 roads in a difficult terrain. He accepted all the demands put forward by Mehboobullah Jan and said he understands the problems he raised. The prime minister also raised slogans of “Jeay Bhutto” and asked the gathering to vote for the PPP so that the developmental projects could continue. Prime Minister Raja said the beautiful and serene surroundings of the area served as an attraction for the tourists from around the world, besides an important link to the Central Asian Republics. He said it was his desire to meet the people of Kohistan, who were ardent supporters of the PPP. He said he too was an ordinary worker of the PPP and believed in the vision of its leaders Zufikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. Raja also noted that the PPP had begun its current tenure in very difficult times.
GB a separate entity” GBUM
By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) Manzoor Husain Parwana has said that Gilgit-Baltistan is neither part of Kashmir nor Pakistan. Those who are trying to link the region with any other country are wrong. He said that Gilgit-Baltistan was a party to the issue of Kashmir but it is not part of the state of Kashmir. Gilgit-Baltistan has its own geographical, historical, cultural and political history and significance and its people are a separate nation. Mr Parwana said that the decision of the parliamentary committee of Pakistan not to make Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan was correct and the people of the region welcomed it. He said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by all definitions were a separate nation and fulfil the criteria to have a separate state of their own. Making the region a province of any country will be an injustice with the two million people of the area, he maintained. The parliamentary committee decision also vindicated the long-standing stance of the nationalist parties of Gilgit-Baltistan that the region was not constitutional part of Pakistan, he added. The GBUM chief said that had it been possible to make the region a separate province Zulfikar Ali Bhutto could have make it. He said those who were trying to merge the region with Kashmir or Pakistan on the basis of some sectarian considerations were doing no service to the people. Because of such an approach, the people of the region have been deprived of their basic rights for the last over six decades, he added.
The bitter truth
The chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council’s public accountability committee Mohammad Ibrahim has said that there is no flaw in the self-empowerment and autonomy order 2009. However, because of the incompetency and lack of political leadership the objectives of the package could not be achieved. According to him, corrupt, uneducated and people with no experience, who were at the helms, were responsible for bringing the regions at the point of no return. He said professional and experienced people were needed to run the system. He said those criticizing the system were not sincere with the nation. He said today in every household there was the opinion that the package had failed to deliver. This is because political leaders running the affairs of the region have failed, bringing the whole system into a ridicule. He said had experienced and competent people were brought in to run the system today people would have been very satisfied with it and would not have been opposing it. Mr Ibrahim said that Mehdi Shah was an old PPP jiala and had rendered sacrifices for the party. Mehdi Shah can do many more things but he has failed to run the province during the last over three years since he came to power. He said Mehdi Shan and his cohorts would never accept but it is the fact that not a single day during the three years under the PPP ruler has passed without financial troubles and law and order problems. The day Mehdi Shah was sworn in, financial crisis hit the region. Pick up the newspapers of the days before the PPP came to power in the region and compared them with the press of today and you will find that today the newspapers are filed with the news of financial mismanagement and crisis after crisis. Most of the issues confronting the nation and making headlines are: contractors are not being paid their dues and they are in protests, there are no funds for so and so project. Government employees are without salaries for the last so many months. On the other hand, there are the news that the so-called public representatives are living a king’s life at the cost of the poor nation. For the last many years despite the fact that the same party is in power in Islamabad the federal government has stopped releasing the share of the region bringing the wheel of development in the region to a grinding halt. Had there been a competent and energetic chief minister, he would definitely have managed some ways out to control the financial meltdown and also managed timely release of funds from the federal government. But in the case of Gilgit-Baltistan, we have a chief minister who is even unable to ensure that the funds promised by no other than the prime minister of Pakistan are not given to the region. What to talk of other issues, if you ask the chief minister when his cabinet met for the last time, he would not know its exact date. In every department there are rampant mismanagement, corruption and irregularities putting a bad impact on the lives of the people. As a result, the citizens have become fed up with the government and they are reminding the past when governments were not so corrupt and the public issues were not that much compounded. Does the so-called democratic government has any relevance with the lives of the people when there is no peace, unemployment is rising and prices of daily-use items are skyrocketing? The people say that compared to these corrupt politicians who are looting the resources by both hands even the government of military dictator Pervez Musharraf was much better during whose tenure unprecedented numbers of development projects were launched in the region. Two years back, the chief minister had announced to set up a think-tank to guide the government in running the government and even named a former officer as its member. But after making the announcement, the proposal was put into the cold storage only because the rulers were not serious in bringing any improvement in the government process. Even the ministers, advisers and parliamentary secretaries are not doing their work and just draw their salaries and get other perks and privileges. For the last many months the ministers and even the governor sand chief minister have left the region and are enjoying their lives in the capital city of Pakistan at the expense of the poor people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Chairman Ibrahim has very rightly said that instead of blaming the system for our woes, we should pause for a moment and look at the working and credentials of those who have been running the system for the last three years. These people have made the lives of the two million people miserable. The fact is that irrespective of the quality of the package, we should try to realize that what has stopped these corrupt politicians to do any good for the people if they want to do. Is there any obstacle in the system that is hindering them from doing something good? The people of the region are now dead sure that if you put even a divine system in force and ask Mehdi Shah and co. to run it they would corrupt it. It is an established fact that it is the people who deliver not a system. Our misfortune is that we have elected such people in the good name of democracy that they are not able to realize their responsibilities and think it as once in a blue moon chance to fill their coffers and live a king-like life as they may not get the chance again. In a real sense they are not democratic minded as is evident from their behaviour and way of governance. When the chief minister himself says that he is indebted to his party boss Asif Ali Zardar and will remain in power as long as he (Zardari) wants him in power, should we expect that the chief minister will be working with a least thought of doing anything good for the people? In a democratic rule, the future of the leaders is linked with the blessings of the voters but here it seems that the whole lots have been brought to the scene in an autocratic way. In short, the corrupt leaders have made the system corrupt and useless for the masses.