Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday September 6—–September 12, 2008
IT is unfortunate that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been living in a slavery-like situation and suffering all types of hardships for the last over 60 years. They have never seen a day when they felt satisfied with the affairs of their life. Children in the early days instead of going to school move to workshops or medical stores to feed their aging and poor parents. Due to rampant poverty, the people belonging to a very rich culture and having all kinds of natural resources are compelled to commit suicide. Corruption has permeated all government organizations which have no room for the educated youth. There are open violations of human rights in the region and the state has failed to devise plans to improve the living standards of the people. Neither there is a talk to promote higher education in the region. In such a situation, the people are waiting for a messiah and are not certain whether they would ever be allowed to decide their fate on their own.
The people of this region now realize that a number of generations had already passed away living in slavery but they should not allow the future generations to live a slave’s life any more. The masses have tested the sincerity of the rulers of Pakistan and no more trust their promises. Political leaders of Pakistan have making tall claims that after coming to power they would ensure all basic rights for Gilgit-Baltistan. But how we believe and expect anything tangible from Pakistani rulers when even the name of Gilgit-Baltistan is not mentioned in the constitution of the country. In Gilgit-Baltistan, people have always been hoodwinked by successive rulers of Pakistan for their own interests.
For the last over 60 years, the rulers have been saying that if Gilgit-Baltistan is given any political status it would damage the Kashmir cause. But they have no answer to the question as to what benefit the Kashmir cause has derived by keeping Gilgit-Baltistan deprived of all basic political, economic and constitutional rights.
Keeping UNCIP resolutions aside, can slogan mongering like ‘Gilgit-Baltistan is the crown of Pakistan’ be enough to compensate for the injustices meted out to the region. The rulers should understand that the age of keeping a people enslaved by adopting the carrot and stick policy has ended. The urge to attain the rights cannot be removed from the hearts of the people by commando actions.
There are a number of factors including the role of the bureaucracy, misuse of natural resources, leasing out of minerals to outsiders, violation of the State Subject Rule, etc,. which have alienated the people of this region. The masses of Gilgit-Baltistan are no more in a mood to tolerate these injustices coupled with denial of political, economic and constitutional rights to the region. They understand that except full independent status nothing can guarantee a respectable life for them and their future generations.