Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, May 10—-May 16 ,2008
Gilgit-Baltistan has remained a victim of human, social, economic and political exploitation for the last 61 years due to stubbornness of both Pakistan and India. Moreover, there is a danger to the very identity and survival of the region. With the division of the Subcontinent in 1947 the imperialist powers of the world divided the states on the basis of their likes and dislikes and the future of Gilgit-Baltistan fell prey to the great game in the region. Before 1947, this region saw small-scale wars in which the local people without difference of color, race and religion fought and defeated the invaders for the collective good of the area. But after partition of the Subcontinent in 1947, not only the newly-liberated democratic region was attacked on November 16, 1947 but also all means were utilized to convert the area into a colony by adopting a number of bogus agreements keeping the people in the dark. Besides, conspiracies were also hatched to divide the local people. The masses first demanded their basic rights and the government promised that they would be given all the rights like roads, schools, hospital etc., step by step. When the people realized that outsider bureaucrats and rulers cannot ensure their rights, they demanded that the region should be made a province. On this the rulers said it would damage the cause of Kashmir. Then the masses said give us an Azad Kashmir-type of setup. The rulers started to delay the issue on one pretext or the other. On the whole, the government had neither a program in the past nor it has it today to end the deprivations of the people. But to kill two birds with one stone, the government sowed the seed of sectarianism in the area which made the future of Gilgit-Baltistan a big question mark. Now the people are justified to ask whether constitutional packages and agreements are enough to end the over 60 years long deprivations. Can the people meet the challenges of the 21st century without having even basic facilities. Is it possible to decide the future of over two million people without their consent. These are the questions which have now developed into a lava that can any time burst out. We understand that the future of this region does not lie in construction of roads, power houses and other projects but is liked with the right of self-rule. History tells us that no nation gives sacrifices to make itself a part of others but strives to gain freedom. On the other hand, history is also witness to the fact that to enslave the people of an area they are entangled in petty issues so that they cannot come out of the mess to ask for major rights.We would like to advise the democratic government of Pakistan to understand the realities of the present-day world which has shrunk into a global village. In today’s world no nation can be kept in the dark, so the rulers should transfer self-rule rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as a first step. Because constitutional packages cannot safeguard the future of the people and their identity. Till the resolution of the Kashmir issue the constitution-less Gilgit-Baltistan should be given a setup under which the people could run their day-today affairs. They should also have the right to utilize their resources as they wish.