Weekly Bang-e-Sahar August 23—August 29,2008
BRUSSELS: Chairman Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Abdul Hamid Khan has been given political asylum in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union.
In the face of mounting threat to his life and on the advice of friends and well-wishers, Mr Khan went into exile in 1999.
Since 1997’s black jubilee incident, the government tried to win over the BNF leader but after its failure to do so it used security agencies to harass and eliminate him along with his family members to make him toe the government line. But that too backfired because Mr Khan refused to budge and did not change his mission.
Mr Khan had two options: either to toe the government line or go into self-exile and continue his mission of raising the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan at the international forums. He opted for the second path and left the country after consulting his friends.
At this, secret agencies swung into action and followed him abroad. As a result, he had to change residences and moved from one country to the other.
In 1999, occurred the Kargil war in which hundreds of NLI jawans were martyred as they were sent to the frontline in the disguise of mujahideen. Soon after, Mr Khan wrote an open letter to then COAS Gen Musharraf after which security agencies spent sleepless nights.
Changing his stay in eight countries, he raised the issue of Balawaristan at the international forums and also wrote two books: Muqadam-i-Balawaristan and the Last colony of the 21st century. Besides, he also launched a website of BNF to keep the international community abreast of the situation in the region.
His exile has also resulted in internationalization of the issue and world forums have started inviting nationalist leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan to their programmes and discussions. Before his exile, no leader of Gilgit-Baltisan was invited to such forums.
After eight years, he appeared in Brussels and on November 12, 2007 applied to the Belgian government seeking political asylum and on June 23, 2008 his plea was accepted and he was given legal asylum in that country.
It may be noted that Mr Khan is the first political leader who has been given asylum in Belgium after four years.