Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, June 7—-June 13, 2008
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Adviser revenue and border trade Northern Areas Mirza Hussain has said human rights violations have become rampant in the region and the masses are living under the dark shadow of bureaucracy even in the 21st century. In a statement issued here, he said the people of this region have been meted out unprecedented injustices right from the day they got independence in 1947. He said instead of giving the area a separate political and administrative setup, the local people were made `slaves’ of bureaucracy. Even after passage of 61 years, the area is being treated like a colony, he said, adding the people are even at the mercy of lowly clerks of the Kashmir and Northern Areas Ministry in Islamabad. He expressed the shock that instead of enabling the people to formulate laws to run their affairs by themselves, they have been made `slaves’ of laws formed by outsiders. He said due to absence of a constitution, the people of the region not only lagged behind in terms of development in socio-economic field but it also badly affected their mental growth. He said in the modern era of development, no steps have been taken to promote education in the area neither the existing institutions have been equipped with basic facilities. This, he pointed out, was creating a sense of deprivation and frustration among the people of the region. Mr Hussain said after the opening of the Karakoram Highway, vast avenues of development were created in the region but the benefits went to outsiders and influential people with political connections, while the locals still remained deprived of their rights. Before sending government officials to the area to `rule over’ the people, they are brain washed about how to divide the locals and perpetuate the grip on them, he added. As a result, the region has been facing the menace of sectarianism, he added. He said all powers were concentrated in the hands of the chief secretary while public representatives including the local chief executive were still without powers. He said under the Musharraf’s package powers of the chief executive have been transferred to the chairman of the legislative assembly instead of the local incumbent. He called upon the PPP chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, and Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas to bring the people of Gilgit-Baltistan into the mainstream and take drastic measures to end rampant human rights violations and the sense of deprivation and frustration among the people. He said the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly should be brought at par with the provincial assemblies or the AJK-like setup be visualized for the area having powers to legislate for the region. He also demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan should be declared a tax-free region and the customs checkpost and the dry port should be removed from the area.