Weekly Bang-e-sahar, Saturday,April 12-18,2008
ISLAMABAD: The Balawaristan National Front (BNF) has expressed the hope that the new democratic government in Pakistan will take necessary measures to ensure the basic rights of Gilgit-Baltistan and end unemployment and poverty in the region.
Talking to Bang-e-Sahar, President BNF Nambardar Mohammad Rafique said corruption and misuse of public funds had been a major hindrance in ensuring development of the area. Besides, shortage of electricity, clean drinking water and lack of easy access to education and health care facilities have made public life miserable.
He said the new government was not expected to bring any revolutionary changes for ending constitutional and political deprivations in the region. The new government cannot do anything in this regard until and unless people of the region stood up and raised strong voice for their rights in cooperation of the international community.
He demanded that the government should abolish the post of chairman of the legislative assembly and restore the original geographical position of Gilgit which existed in 1947. He said all trade routes linking the region with China, Central Asian States and India should be opened and an independent enquiry should be conducted into the Kargil war.
In reply to a question, he said Kashmir policies of the previous government lacked clear-cut objectives and like always the nationalists of Gilgit-Baltistan were kept out of the peace process. However, for the first time in history the disputed status of Gilgit-Baltistan was recognized, he added.
He expressed his satisfaction over mass mobilization on his party’s agenda and said it was the result of the unending efforts of the party workers that even the centrist parties were now demanding autonomy which was beyond imagination in the past.
Referring to the history of nationalism in Gilgit-Baltistan, he said the movement can be divided into two periods: the nationalist movements before 1971 and the ones after that period till present.
He said a number of nationalist movements gained momentum but soon they vanished from the scene. However, these movements were launched by same people with different banners, he said. After the prison attack incident, he added, intelligence agencies resorted to creating sectarian strife in the region which exploded in the form of the worst sectarian clashes of 1988. Till today sectarianism is used to sabotage nationalist movements.
He said the black jubilee incident of 1997 played the role of a catalyst for bringing to the fore the deprivations by attracting the media community and changing the mind-set of the youth who had been brain washed about the ground realities and were taught about a distorted meaning of freedom.
Talking about the current scenario, he said injustice was still widespread in Gilgit-Baltistan but somehow it was less evident outside. He blamed the media (particularly the electronic media) for marginalizing the issues of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said a never-ending debate was going on on every major and minor issue in television channels but not a single minute was spared for Gilgit-Bbaltistan’s problems and issues. Let the media persons just come to Chilas to ascertain the public opinion. They would be shocked to see the situation. He said our public was much aware of
its rights and has got the very capacity to judge between rights and wrongs but they are never given a chance to represent their region on the national media.
The very moment the new government was sworn in it begged forgiveness for injustices done to Bugti of Balochistan, etc, but no word was said by anyone in the corridors of power for the six decades long injustices done with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, the BNF leader remarked.