Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday 26 July—–August 1, 2008
By A Correspondent
HUNZA: The people of Gilgit-Baltistan need to be united in order to fight for the basic human and constitutional rights of the depressed and marginalised communities of the region. This was stated by leaders of nationalist parties and civil society organisations during a public consultation gathering in Aliabad, Hunza. The gathering was organised by Karakoram National Movement (KNM), Progressive Youth Front (PYF) and Bolor Forum with the support of Gilgit Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA). Hundreds of people from Hunza and Nagar participated in the gathering. The speakers said the people of the region have fought for their independence and unconditionally acceded to Pakistan but after 60 years they are still suffering from an identity crisis. The speakers demanded the government of Pakistan should immediately define the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan and the region should be given the right of self-rule. They also demanded to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as a least-developed region and funds should be provided on preferential basis. The speakers called for immediately opening the Skardu-Kargil, Astor-Sri Nagar, Ghizer/Hunza-Tajikistan routes in order to re-establish the social and economic ties between the communities living around the borders. They condemned the recent terrorist activities in Gilgit city and stressed the people to understand the international conspiracies being hatched to destroy peace in Gilgit-Baltistan to fulfil their own designs. The gathering also highlighted different pressing problems the people of the region are facing due to negligence of the Northern Areas Administration and the government of Pakistan. They said more than 50 mining leases have been awarded to influential non-resident entrepreneurs while violating the United Nations universal declaration recognizing and strengthening the role of indigenous people and their communities. They demanded that the government should cancel all leases given in Gilgit-Baltistan and recognise the ownership of local communities before awarding the leases. They called upon the government to facilitate the unemployed youth of the region to establish different potential industries in the region.They urged the government to give compensation to the affected people of the KKH expansion project according to international standard. They said the region despite having great potential of hydro power generation was facing severe electricity problem and small dams should be constructed on Hunza River to generate more electricity. The speakers criticised the role of Chief Executive Northern Areas and his family members for creating problems for the legally elected cabinet of Sost Dry Port. The speakers demanded an independent investigation into the alleged irregularities in Sost Dry Port. They also highlighted large scale irregularities in the construction of the Khizerabad-Sikandarabad RCC bridge and a water supply scheme for central Hunza. Ghulam Shahzad Agha, Chairman GBDA, Amanullah, Senior Vice President GBDA, Mumtaz Nagri, Vice President GBDA, Mohammad Iqbal Advocate, Chairman KNM, Advocate Ahsan Ali, Chairman Labour Party Boloristan, Manzoor Parwana, Chairman GBUM. Arif Shahid, General Secretary APNA, Professor Mark Khaliq, spokesman APNA, Ikramullah Baig, Hoor Shah, Senior Vice Chairman Sost Dry Port Trust, Burhanullah, General Secretary GBDA, Haji Rehmat Ali, representative KKH affectees Nagar, Jan Alam, representative KKH affected Hunza and Baba Jan, Chief Organiser Progressive Youth Front were among the speakers.