Weekly Bang-e-sahar, Saturday,April 12-18,2008
The hollow system in force in Gilgit-Baltistan has not only deprived the people of their basic political and human rights but has also led to economic deprivation, unemployment and poverty in the region. Due to lack of opportunities, youth of the area after completing education are compelled to migrate to other parts of the country. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that whenever a vacancy like that of a lowly clerk is advertised by any government department a horde of highly-qualified youth flocks the office concerned for test/interview. Of course, all of them cannot be given jobs in public sector organizations but the government has remained as a silent spectator and failed to develop the private sector for the development of human and natural resources of the area. As a result, the youth of the region is becoming frustrated and under the given circumstances is prone to go to any extent to fulfil his desires of a decent living in society.
Agriculture has been the major source of income for the people for Gilgit-Baltistan but with the passage of time landholding has shrunk due to population growth and farmers are unable to achieve enough produce due to lack of modern means of agriculture due to hosts of issues. Large areas still remain uncultivated due to lack of water in the region. This is unfortunate that the government has also miserably failed to take steps to develop the sector despite the act that the area has abundance of water resources, even enough to meet the requirements of whole the country.
It seems that the system’s failure has also given a free hand to non-governmental organizations to make mockery of their own claims of bringing development to the region. A horde of NGOs is seen active but in fact they have done nothing except bringing frustration to the masses. Take for example the case of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP). Though it has carried out work on some projects but has never spent a fraction of the amount it annually receives from donor agencies in the name of social development.
After abolition of the State Subject Rule, a large number of outsiders rushed to the region and occupied almost every sector of the economy. As a result, the locals have been deprived of their rights on land and other properties. Today, 60 per cent trade in Gilgit is owned by outsiders, while in Ghizer’s headquarters Gahkuch the ratio is 55 per cent, in Gupis it is 50 per cent, in Skardu 35 per cent and Chilas 55 per cent. Besides, locals’ share in Sost dry port trade is only 15 per cent.
Looking at the prevailing grim situation, question arises that where we are leading to? It is unfortunate that people of Giglgit-Baltistan have never shown seriousness in changing their destiny. It is the duty of the educated class to take the people out of deprivation and hopelessness. We failed to take remedial steps on our own, our next generation would not be able to come of the socio-economic and political deprivations which bedevil us today.