The cat and mouse game on Kashmir

Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday, May 31—–June 6, 2008
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan continue discussing their 61-years of deprivation from the levels of muhallahs, streets to five-star hotels, while local nationalist parties hold seminars, public gatherings on the issue besides devising their future strategies. Still the masses are interested to see all facts behind their `slavery’ brought to fore. Because the people have reservations about the ongoing dialogue process between Pakistan and India as well as the present status of the issue of Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan and its possible solutions. The masses also want to know why Gilgit-Baltistan had to face the brunt of the over 60 years of the cat and mouse game between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue. First, the existence of the liberated local state was sabotaged in 1947, and then using different tactics under the garb of lack of constitutional provisions and disunity amongst the masses, the area was denied its due rights. This was followed by engineered tragedies including sectarian violence in the area to make the world believe that the area people lacked unity and did not deserve the political rights. During the dictatorship of Gen Zia in 1988, a group of Afghan militants attacked Gilgit-Baltistan and did not hesitate to destroy even cattle and forest of the area and sowed the seed of an unending sectarian hatred among the peaceful population. Ironically, the report of the 1988 tragedy did not come to open till today. Then in 1999, thousands of NLI personnel were made to fight a mighty army of India. The world was made to believe that Kashmiri Mujahideen, not the Pakistani Army, were at war with India in Kargil. It is ironic that on the one hand the brave soldiers of NLI were sent to Kargil in track suits while on the other they were not provided with even proper rations and weapons, causing their annihilation at the hands of the enemy. When the world knew about the facts, the then US President Bill Clinton was approached for an immediate ceasefire. We believe that a Kargil commission is necessary because Pakistan has refused to accept the bodies of thousands of NLI personnel buried in the mountains of Kargil. Before going on exile in December 2000, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had alleged that then Chief of Army Staff Gen Pervez Musharraf had not taken him in confidence on the Kargil operation. During his exile in Saudi Arabia and London, Mr Sharif also kept on demanding the formation of a commission on Kargil. However, strangely, the PML-N leader after his return to the country seems silent on the demand. This has led the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to believe that there is now no one to listen to their grievances. They say Mr Sharif after his return to the country should have reiterated his demand for formation of a commission on the Kargil debacle. The people of the region are justified in demanding a truth commission to expose all those responsible for the Kargil operation. They also very justly seek return of the dead bodies of NLI personnel from Kargil mountains and bury them in their native areas with military honour. Similarly, in January 2005, sectarian violence spread in Gilgit-Baltistan in which many lives were lost, but, as usual, no inquiry report was made public. The people of the region consider that until and unless all tragedies occurred in the area were investigated and the reports made public, they would see the future of the dialogue process on the issue of Kashmir with skepticism. Therefore, it is mandatory on the new democratic government to make public all reports of the incidents in the region and bring the perpetrators to book to win public sympathy and provide justice to the affected families, and then proceed on to resolve the bigger issue of Kashmir.


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