A land without constitution: a moment of reflection

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, May 17—-23, 2008
A constitution is a document which guides a nation in its evolutionary stage towards its destiny. Without a constitution no nation can preserve and promote its culture and traditions. With a constitution a nation never goes astray from its defined path as it acts like a beacon for the people. Unfortunately, however, Gilgit-Baltistan has remained without such a sacred document for the last over six decades. Only 16 days after the area was liberated, opportunist elements trampled the basic philosophy, objectives and cause of the revolutionary struggle. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan saw horrible and mind-boggling incidents and they were pushed into the flames of religious bigotry and sectarianism after breaking the geographical unity of the region. As a result, national assets came under the control of outsiders and the new generation was presented a distorted picture of its rich culture and history. For some opportunist elements the constitution-less region became a fertile land to achieve their vested interests. Not only the region remained without its constitution but it also became a haven of crimes and social evils. Due to lack of a vision and principles to further a national discipline, social values fell prey to disintegration. In such a milieu, the masses considered slogan-mongering politicians as their saviour. This was a result of a vacuum in political leadership as well as the people’s lack of vision and responsibility. On the one hand, during the last over six decades, the masses were put to political, social and economic exploitations while on the other their collective thought process was sabotaged by dividing them on regionalism, sectarian and linguistic lines. By making them chief executive/chairman, outsiders were given unlimited powers and the region’s resources were kept at their disposal to loot and plunder. The local people were made to believe that the region used to be governed by the Rajas and Mirs and after the end of their rule the common people were not in a position to fill the gap. As a result, the natives remained divided on familial, tribal and regional lines and the outsiders came in and succeeded to establish their monopoly in all spheres of life, and used the local opportunists for achievement of their own objectives. These elements always repeated the mantra of various suggestions on regional basis without raising a voice for the welfare and security of Gilgit-Baltistan. In the process, whereas the national identity of Gilgit-Baltistan was disfigured, the common man also remained deprived of the basis facilities of life. At present the situation is such that human rights are openly violated, people are tired of traveling on broken roads and through dark streets and the educated youth are running from pillar to post in search of jobs. Besides, outsiders have totally controlled trade, while employment opportunities are closed on the local people. Appointment of locals on important posts is even considered a forbidden act. Children in stead of going to schools are sent to stores or workshops to earn a living for their families. Where some schools have been set up they are devoid of basic facilities while colleges are short of hostels and science laboratories. Medical centres have no medicines and other facilities while watchmen and class-IV are providing treatment to patients due to absence of doctors. You cannot find any sphere of life in which people can express satisfaction.
There seem no prospects of change in people’s lives even after 61 long years. When someone raises the issue of basic rights they are termed anti-Pakistan and sidelined. People are now compelled to ask what is in stock for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan? What is their future and what they have to do? Too much water has already passed below the bridge. The rulers should, without further delay, give the area an independent legislative assembly, so that people of Gilgit-Baltistan could also have the powers to run their affairs in accordance with their wishes.

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