Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, June 7—-June 13, 2008
WHEN we look at the political scene of Gilgit-Baltistan, it seems that the people in this region are looking for a messiah to come and fulfill their aspirations. The hapless people of this area are, unfortunately, not aware of the constitutional status of their land neither they know the meaning of a constitution. They are also unaware of the right to self-rule. The masses are more concerned with their day-to-day sufferings due to unemployment, illiteracy, human rights violations and injustices and are compelled to think to get rid of all internal and external conspiracies, which they consider have been the root causes of their problems and ills in society. The people have now also realized that they are not independent, but are still treated as slaves and that without exposing all the facts and characters behind their slavery they cannot further their struggle for attainment of their rights. When nationalist parties started to raise their voice against this slavery and resolved to expedite the struggle for an independent state, the government and its security agencies used all tactics to subdue the voices crying for a separate state besides sowing the seeds of hatred among them and poisoning their minds. Whereas, all means and resources were utilized to prolong the colonial grip on Gilgit-Baltistan, there were also efforts to use the local political forces as a tool by the state and its agencies. The whole world was kept in the dark about the situation in the region and the public was deprived of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of speech while the area was entangled in myriads of conspiracies. Starting from the status of an advisory council, the present so-called elected house has now been given the name of an assembly but the people know its standing and consider it as a dummy house. However, for its members no doubt the house has become a lucrative way to attain their self-interests and the government has been hoodwinking the whole world by showing it as an elected house of the people. The function of the so-called members of the so-called assembly has become limited to wait at the Gilgit and Skardu airports with garlands to welcome their masters – the Pakistani ministers – and members of bureaucracy. Other than that, they also remain working to ensure their own interests, giving jobs to their dear and near ones, arranging contracts of projects for their relatives and attending official functions as chief guests. The drama does not end here. When these so-called elected representatives go to Islamabad and stay at the NA Hostel, they consider it part of their official jobs to present gifts and souvenirs to the secretaries and even clerks of the ministers, etc. Everyone knows that the so-called legislative assembly is a powerless organization which is remotely controlled from Islamabad. This fact is well-known to the representatives themselves and Islamabad is also aware of the actual position and treat the elected representatives as such. Since 1947, each government in Pakistan has been promoting Lota cracy in Gilgit-Baltistan to keep political activity in the region in the backburner. One example of this is that elected representatives became turncoats soon after all elections held in the region so far. The government and its agencies use a carrot and stick policy against them after elections to achieve their own objectives and take unilateral decisions on all small and big matters without involving the so-called elected representatives. Some political leaders are also taught the lesson to tell the masses that they should never ever think of independence because the government has all resources at its disposal to get rid of such elements. This so-called council or assembly has also failed even to pass a resolution so far. Its members have always remained prisoner at the hands of outsider bureaucracy. Even after passage of so many years, these so-called members of the house should realize their obligations and responsibilities. If the new government in Pakistan is really a democratic and independent one, it should take measures to end the 61-year-long subjugation of the people of GIlgit-Baltistan and give them all constitutional and socio-economic rights to run their affairs in accordance with their own wishes. If the PPP-led government also continued to hoodwink the people of the region, it would be disastrous for the whole country because the world is now monitoring human rights violations, denial of rights to the people and most of all dividing the masses on sectarian lines. Would it be possible for Pakistan to continue with the policy of keeping the two million people of the region completely deprived of all basic rights in the 21st century?