Kashmir issue & Gilgit, Baltistan

Kashmir issue & Gilgit, Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday September 20–September 26, 2008
AS 9/11 changed the whole world politics it also put its effects on the issue of Kashmir. Soon after the event, then President Pervez Musharraf went to Agra on American pressure and held talks with former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and started the peace process. This was the same General Musharraf who had even not attended the welcome ceremony held for Mr Vajpayee when he came to Lahore in April 1999 on the invitation of Nawaz Sharif. When we look at the situation in the subcontinent before 9/11, we remember that the armies of the two nations were eyebrow to eyebrow on the border. However, soon after 9/11 a ceasefire was announced by then Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and the mujahideen inside Kashmir were called terrorists. There came bans on the mujahideen organizations, talk process between the two nations started, steps were initiated to check cross-border terrorism and a bus service was launched between the capitals of both the portions of Kashmir. In an iftar party organized by Sheikh rashidAhmed, Pervez Musharraf while talking to the media termed Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan a disputed territory. When we analyze all the happenings which occurred in quick successions, it transpires that these steps were taken on the pressure of America alone. Both the countries had clandestinely reached an agreement on the issue of Kashmir but they could not agree on the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Then the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and the February 18 general elections completely changed the political landscape of Pakistan with Musharraf stepping down under pressure. Soon after coming to power the new government under pressure of the Bush administration issued a notification to bring the ISI under the control of the ministry of interior. However, it could not sustain the order and within 24 hours had to withdraw the notification. Soon after this, the jehadi elements in Kashmir came to open again and a protest was launched on the pretext of a trivial issue. The APHC later gave a “Muzaffarbaad Chalo” call and tried to cerate a law and order situation. Once again jehadi leaders like Salahuddin and Hafiz Saeed have started rising in Pakistan refreshing the reminiscences of 1988. There has also been a wall-chalking against the Mirzai sect inside the Pakistan administered Kashmir allegedly at the behest of secret agencies. In Gilgit-Baltistan too hate literatures wall-chalking and speeches against nationalist forces are going on. With the coming to power of the democratic government on the one hand law and order situation is being created in Gilgit-Baltistan while on the other President Asif Zardari has announced that people would soon hear good news on Kashmir. Besides the appointment of Fazalur Rehman as chairman of the Kashmir committee has perturbed observers of the Kshmir issue. The Kashmir issue has been lingering for the last over 61 years and the statement that within one the nation will hear good news is beyond comprehension. The recent fare-up in the activities of the jehadi organizations and accusations of India and Pakistan against each others indicate that they are about to say goodbye to the CBM and peace process. Both India and Pakistan consider APHC as the representative body of the Kshmiris and it seems that both the countries are planning to fire a shot from the shoulder of the party for their own objectives.
However, so far the APHC has failed to declare its clear-cut policy. On the one hand it hoodwinks the masses by aiming for independence and on the other it declares to make the state part of Pakistan. However, nationalist parties in both Azad Kashmir and Giglit-Baltistan are in unison for an independent status for the region. It is very important that if a settlement was imposed on the issue without taking the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir on board the over 10 million people of the region would never accept it.
The simple and acceptable solution to the issue would be one based on the United Nations resolutions under which both India and Pakistan should withdraw their forces from the region and hold a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of the region.

First BNSO convention Students told to fight for rights

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
By Our Correspondent
LAHORE: Balawaristan National Front Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan has called upon the students to study geography and history of Gilgit-Baltistan alongside their own syllabus in order to become abreast of the region’s rich history and traditions and lead the people towards attainment of their basic rights.
He was addressing the first two-day BNSO convention in Lahore. “First of all, let me welcome and congratulate you for launching a struggle from the platform of Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO) for the rights, well-being, peace and international identity of your people.”
I would like to also inform those brothers and sisters who are not present here today that there was no sentimental element behind our struggle but historical, cultural and geographical reasons as well as Pakistani rulers’ injustices since November 16, 1947 were behind the move.
The present rulers have never taken a single local on board in the decision-making process in the region. They have even considered democracy as a forbidden tree for our people. Besides, to prolong their rule they pitched one brother against another by dividing them on sectarian lines. Due to these reasons, the Balawaristan National Front (BNF) started its struggle for attaining all basic rights in 1992.
As far as bread, clothing and house are concerned it is a deceitful slogan which has in reality no relation with basic rights. Had it been a substitute for freedom, the British government’s offer to provide these necessities to the people of India after the Quit India Movement of Congress had satisfied the Indians. Even today in every prison of the world, bread, clothing and shelter are freely provided to the inmates and if it is a substitute to freedom why the rulers of Pakistan do not offer their freedom to a rich nation who could guarantee them these facilities.
“We want to run all our affairs by ourselves and want to be the owner of our own house, because for the last over 60 years we have remained slaves of others who have turned this 28,000 square miles area into a prison for its inhabitants.”
Today not only Pakistan is plundering our resources but also distributing it among other countries like China as well. Anyone raising voice against these injustices is thrown into jail and tortured. The example of Gandayi-Yasen is in front of you, where innocent people protesting for their rights have been put behind bars and are being tortured. By constructing the Skardu, Bhunji and Bhasha dams, the rulers are trying to destroy our geography and culture.
He also criticized the speech of Force Commander Northern Areas (FCNA) at Hondoor in Yasen on Sptember 6 and said it was an eye-opener for the new PPP government. It also negated the decision of COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to keep the army out of politics.
The first BNSO convention aimed to create coordination among the various sectors of the students’ body. Student representatives from Gilgit-Baltistan, Karachi, Punjab, and NWFP participated in the convention.
The BNSO was first formed at Karachi in 1996. BNSO leaders from Karachi appreciated the arrangements made for the convention.
Besides students’ representatives, a large number of nationalist leaders from Gilgit-Baltistan attended the event and spoke on various issues and ways to achieve the objectives of the nationalist parties.
Chairman GBUM and well-known nationalist leader Manzoor Husain Parwana was invited as chief guest on the occasion. BNF’s Burhanullah, who is also GBDA’s secretary general; and APNA spokesman Wazir Shafi, especially came from Gilgit-Blatistan to attend the convention.
President of BNSO Lahore Shamsur Rehman thanked the participants and said the event would go a long way in fulfillment of the objectives of the parties struggling for the rights of the region.
He said the two-day event was aimed to make the students a vital part of the struggle for attaining the rights of the people of the region.
The speakers on the occasion called upon the students to develop unity in their ranks and continue their struggle and highlight the issues of the region.
They said the students can play a vital role in creating awareness among the public about their rights. They also stressed on the need to organize the students at one platform and give them the sense of urgency for launching joint struggle against injustices in the region.
They said the students can also play a prominent role in promoting and spreading the rich cultural heritage of the region which had been ignored by the rulers for the last many decades.

Govt mulls over AJK-like setup for Northern Areas

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
Govt mulls over AJK-like setup for Northern Areas

By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The federal government has decided in principle to give Gilgit-Baltistan a political and constitutional set-up like that in force at Azad Kashmir.
The formal announcement of the decision would be made by President Asif Ali Zardari soon, sources said.
According to sources in the PPP Northern Areas chapter, the federal government while finalizing the proposed draft constitutional and legal package took the leadership of Gilgit-Baltistan on board.
The reports and recommendations submitted by the political leadership of the region regarding the backwardness and socio-economic, political and constitutional deprivation were also taken into account.
The sources also said that to give representation to the region, a politician from the region was likely to be appointed as the prime minister’s adviser who would be updating the PM on the situation of the region.
Besides, empowering of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and making the local administration accountable to the house was also under consideration. Reform in the judiciary and reactivating the public account committee was also part of the package.
Sources said the package announced by former president Pervez Musharraf was also to be implemented in letter and spirit and this regard the PPP leadership of the Northern Areas has held four meetings with the central party leadership after the PPP came to power.
The local PPP leaders have warned the centre that if the region was further kept without a proper constitutional cover, the results would be disastrous, as the area has remained deprived of all constitutional, political and economic rights for the last over 60 years..
Political observers say that this was yet another effort on part of the rulers to hoodwink the people of the region by promising yet another so-called package for the region.

Attack on BNSO leader condemned

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent

SKARDU: Balawaristan National Students Organization leaders have condemned attack on member BNSO Skardu central executive committee King Nisar Husain in which he sustained injuries.
They termed the attack a cowardly act on part of elements who were hell-bent on the division of Baltistan. The BNSO leader was attacked by five hooded men in the darkness of the night and he later remained under treatment of doctors for the injuries.
In a statement issued here, BNF leader including Safdar Ali, Syed Safdar Shah Rizvi, Mehdi Akmal, Anwar Shah, Khawaja Arif Jan and Ejaz Ahmed Khan said the attack was a handiwork of those elements who were perturbed over the rising popularity of the party in the region. They warned such elements to refrain from attacking the BNF and BNSO workers and leaders otherwise the party would no hesitate in retaliating to the attacks.

NA police need reforms

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By A Correspondent

GILGIT: The president of the People’s Lawyers Forum (PLF) has accused local police authorities of supporting those elements whose existence in politics was because of support from sectarian forces.
Amjad Hussain said with the elections 2009 inching closer such elements had been active, but ironically they were enjoying support of the police and other civil officials.
He pointed out that some senior police officials were openly involving themselves in political matters despite the fact
that they were government officials.
The People’s Lawyers Forum leader said the police boss was turning a blind eye to the matter which made him believe that things were going on with his patronage.
Hardly people in the region have heaved a sigh of relief after a long sectarian strife and they can no longer afford any other such episode, he added.
He said one is left flabbergasted why peaceful religious scholars were picked at and criticised though they were not involved in politics.
He said mosques were being used by the elements to grind their own axes and pave the way for their success in the forthcoming elections, adding such moves would be resisted at all forums.
He appealed to the federal government and the local administration to take serious note of what was happening in the region.
He said the police needed to be put on professional lines and reforms were direly required, so that the department could serve the public.

Plan to form nationalist party ridiculed

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: Balawaristan National Front (BNF) leader Haider Shah Rizvi has said Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory but the members and advisers of the so-called Northern Areas Legislative Assembly have proved their political immaturity and sycophancy by expressing support to the presidential candidate of the PPP, Mr Asif Ali Zardari.
Speaking at a workshop held for the office-bearers and workers of BNF and BNSO here, he also ridiculed the announcement of some NALA members to form a nationalist party and said these elements have always backed the rulers to achieve their own objectives and people of the region were well aware of their track records.
He said such so-called leaders were also responsible for creating schism among the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan by dividing them in sectarian lines at the behest of the rulers and their secret agencies.
He said the struggle of nationalist forces was gaining momentum in the region and the new generation was well aware of their rights and issues. In such a situation opportunist elements have are trying to take due advantage of the popularity of the nationalist and were trying to form a fake nationalist party to maintain their grip on power. However, he said, the nationalist parties will trounce the federalists and all those whose politics was based on sectarianism, regionalisms and hatred in the next elections.
He also criticized the statement of Force Commander Northern Areas and said his declaration of Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Pakistan was illegal, unconstitutional and contrary to the ground realities.
He said efforts were under way to involve the nationalist forces in fake cases in order to put the leaders behind bars and sabotage their struggle for attainment for basic rights for the region.
He also criticized the government for using the personnel of NLI in Fata, Balochistan and said the NLI persons should be deployed in Gilgit-Baltistan and should not be made a scapegoat on Pakistan’s so-called war on terror.
He said they would resists government’s move to lease out Gilgit-Baltistan’s natural resources to outsiders, adding the locals should have right over the utilization of their resources without outside interference.

Speakers for declaring Siachen glacier ‘peace park’

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar here on Monday called for immediate demilitarisation of Siachen and dismantling of all developed infrastructure there, paving way for declaring the area as a `peace park’.
The seminar “Siachen glacier and global climate change: the role of South Asia” was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). The speakers attributed the alarming glacier melting rate to human activities and underlined the need to address this issue at the earliest to avoid future natural calamities and threats to natural resources and human existence.
They also highlighted the military, environmental, climatic, health and socio-economic costs of militarisation and conflict over Siachen between India and Pakistan.
Glaciology expert Prof Dr Khalid Rashid presented a detailed analysis of mass balance of glacier, temperature variation between 1850 and 2000 and human impact on the process of glacier melting or growing. He lamented that due to military exercises and battles at Siachen, toxic wastes were buried in ice which would find their way into the Indus waters, the lifeline of Pakistan, in future. He, however, identified three basic factors – sun, change of axis of earth and human activities – for the rapid climatic change and glacier melting over the last 500 billion years.
Talking about socio-economic costs of Siachen conflict between India and Pakistan and the associated cost of militarisation, Executive Director SDPI Dr Abid Q. Suleri lamented that deployment of troops on Siachen was a huge burden on the economies of both countries and the result of 24-year-long war was nothing except increasing poverty in the region. He urged early resolution of this conflict by declaring it a ‘peace park’ and initiation of a debate in parliaments of both the countries. Citing “Gosh report” of 1986, he said a single ‘chapati’ a soldier ate at Siachen cost $34 and 16 per day to India and Pakistan, respectively, while the expenditures to maintain troops by India alone were calculated to be Rs20 million per day in 1986. “In 2004, Niaz A. Naik and Yeshwant Sinha had jointly conducted a study on the cost of maintaining troops at Siachen and warned their respective governments that the Siachen conflict alone would cost India Rs720 billion and Pakistan Rs180 billion in the next five years while together they will lose about 1,500 soldiers without fighting a war”.
Glaciologist and environmentalist Arshad H. Abbasi said the glacier was retreating at the rate of 110 metres per year. He said the extraordinary melting of Siachen and other major tributary glaciers was caused by human activity, not natural changes, which had not only led to formation of glacial lakes and snow holes but was also responsible for destructive snow avalanches on both side of the Saltoro ridge. Highlighting the worse effects of Siachen conflict over the years in the shape of natural calamities, he demanded immediate demilitarisation of Siachen, declaring all Himalayan glaciers as protected areas. Environmental policy analyst Khalid Mustafa demanded that militaries of both the countries should immediately be withdrawn and infrastructures at Siachen dismantled and brought at the pre-conflict position of 1978/1984. He said civil societies of both the countries should be involved to save this prestigious source of water. “Glaciers in the Himalayas provide headwaters for Asia’s nine largest rivers, a lifeline for the 1.3 billion people who live downstream.”

Jashn-i-Chitral cancelled

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

CHITRAL: A meeting held here on Wednesday decided to cancel Jashn-i-Chitral scheduled to commence from Oct 12 due to the tense situation in the neighbouring districts.
District Nazim Maghfirat Shah said the meeting presided over by him and attended by local heads of different political parties had unanimously decided that it was not appropriate time to make jubilations in the district when the situation in the neighbouring districts was going from bad to worse.
The provincial department of tourism had decided to hold the fair to attract tourists to the area and the chief minister was to participate in the concluding ceremony.
The nazim said he would inform the provincial government about the meeting decision and ask for formal cancellation of the event.
He said the visit of the chief minister to the district would take place as per schedule and all political parties had agreed to give him a warm welcome. He said the chief minister had accepted a request of the district government for visiting different areas of the district to apprise himself about problems faced by their residents. —Chitralupdate.blogspot.com

Animals killed by mysterious disease

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent

SKARDU: A mysterious fatal disease has killed dozens of animals in Tisar village of the Shigar valley but the livestock department has not yet taken any action in this regard, leaving other animals also to the risk.
According to reports reaching here from the affected area, the mostly hit are zhos (a cross breed of yak and cow), zhongos and yaks. The victim animals get sick and become lethargic and dull, and stop eating leading to death in few days.
According to eyewitnesses, examination of the slaughtered affected animals shows that their liver, lung and heart are severely swollen. It has been learnt that so far dozens of animals have killed by this disease and more animals are getting affected.
The villagers say that if the government dos not take any step to control the disease, they will suffer losses and it will spread in other areas. They complained that they brought the matter to the notice of the livestock department Skardu but to no avail. To make matters worse, the livestock dispensary in the area has no medicine for treating this disease.
Residents of the Tisar village have demanded the authorities concerned to take immediate steps to cope with the fatal disease. They also demanded the government for compensation to the affected people.—Dawn

Probe into journalist’s death demanded

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent

GILGIT: The Gilgit Union of Journalists has called upon the government to conduct an investigation into the death of a senior journalist of Ghizer.
In a statement, secretary general of the union, Sharafuddin Faryad expressed shock over the death of Ishaq alias Super Raja and said it seemed that the report of his suicide was concocted.
He said the deceased had a bullet injury to the right side of the temple while he used to work with his left hand. He said in the past too Raja was attacked upon and the government failed to find a clue to the attackers.
He said now some elements wanted to close the case by terming the death suicide. However, the journalists and artists would not allow these elements to succeed in their design.
He said the government should conduct a thorough investigation into the case to expose the responsible and bring them to justice.

Time to eat grass

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
By Samson Simon Sharaf
The army is now called a state within a state, supporter of nuclear proliferation, permeated by fundamentalists and militants in its ranks and file and an institution that pursues big business rather than focus on its primary mission.
Despite suffering over 1,500 dead (the highest figure for any army) in this war, it is still accused of playing a double game. American organisations that once praised now call it ill-organised and badly trained to fight counter insurgency operations in FATA. The hardest criticism has come on the ISI. It is repeatedly accused of hobnobbing with militants and supporting Al Qaeda. This is the outfit busy in unravelling the plethora of intrigues played by diverse actors against the sovereignty of Pakistan operating with the tacit consent of US and Afghanistan.
Methodically, a new theme is being developed. Pakistan’s obsession with India and Kashmir does not allow it to focus unilaterally in FATA. The Taliban in this context are being described as a strategic asset of Pakistan army for its security objectives. The latest accusations to surface relate to the diversion of US funds for building up capabilities against India. No reference is being made to the fact that the mishandling of the situation in Afghanistan in fact adds to Pakistan’s security concerns.
The praetorian mindset within the Pakistan army has made matters worse for the country. The last two military coups of Pakistan got legitimised due to US geo-strategic interests in the regions. 9/11 was an opportunity for an otherwise besieged General Musharraf to get the Americans off his back and use them as erstwhile allies. The short-sightedness of his policy meant that the Pakistani military has been drawn into a most hostile environment – such as in FATA and Swat – where states and a maze of non-state actors compete for influence. The surveillance, intervention and connections of competing actors in the region are so effective that it leaves the local troops with little operational initiative.
The entire resistance and lawlessness in the area has been lumped into two generic names: Al Qaeda and Taliban. Yet many militants groups have the direct backing of operators from US, UK, India, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and now even Iran. Every pro-Pakistan Taliban is outnumbered by diverse strains, each with strings operating it from elsewhere. America has the advantage to operate even from within Pakistan through its bases, embassy and consulates. India has deployed over 20 intelligence units in its consulates to control insurgency inside Pakistan. The insurgency in Swat was created to denude and divert the concentration of the Pakistan army on multiple fronts. According to Shireen Mazari, suffice it to check the record of housekeeping at the Serena Hotel in Swat, to know the type of foreigners that had been visiting there.
Electronic surveillance of the area is so effective that no communications go unnoticed. Pakistan’s allies have the capability to take on these communication centres in real time, yet do not. Many mullah radio stations operate with impunity spewing propaganda against Pakistan. They cannot be jammed with the electronic counter measures of the Pakistan army while America does not seem willing to do this. Spokesmen of Taliban groups talk over cell phones to various news channels for hours but yet cannot be targeted with precision missiles and drones.
Besides the inherent state of insurgency, the movement of Pakistani troops is precariously dangerous. Curiously, there is ample early warning of all the movements of the Pakistan army exposing them to well planned explosive devices (IEDs) and ambushes. Most casualties suffered by troops were result of pre-planned ambushes in which the militants had credible early warning.
Pakistan’s arch-rival has been allowed to move into Afghanistan. Scores of consulates that India has established in Afghanistan are directly linked to instability and militancy inside FATA and Balochistan. While Pakistan can be readily made a scapegoat for cross border movement both in Kashmir and Afghanistan, this does not apply to India.
At the same time, sales of uranium to India from the Nuclear Suppliers Group have been opened implying that India is now free to exploit its indigenous uranium and thorium resources solely for military purposes. There is a constant effort and well crafted plan at degrading Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence. An upsurge in Indian capabilities, stories of proliferation in which all complicit international actors but Pakistan are conveniently overlooked and Pakistani weapons falling into the hands of militants serve to project how dangerous a country it has become. It now appears that everything had been timed in a manner to coincide with the upsurge of hostilities and socio-economic upheaval in Pakistan.
Pakistanis need to understand that in the US scheme of things, the degradation of the army is a key plank in the objective to rid Pakistan of its nuclear capability. Has the time come to eat grass?.—The News

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three strikes & he’s out?

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Cyril Almeida
ASIF is batting on two strikes. Another swing and a miss, and he’s going home. The first strike was the bizarre, abortive handover of the ISI to Rehman Malik.
The second was Kayani’s rebuke the day after Asif was sworn in as president. Ostensibly Kayani’s condemnation was of the Americans, but between the lines was the real target: Asif. Get your act together, the army chief was telling his supreme commander.
Asif has stumbled badly on Afghanistan. The macho men who wanted to defy the American juggernaut on the warpath the day after 9/11 are still amongst us, still advising defiance. The day after 9/11 this was sheer foolishness. But it is no longer the day after 9/11. Seven years of the Americans in Afghanistan and reality has changed. Pick up any report on the West’s adventure in Afghanistan and you will find two things: one, US policy in Afghanistan has been a failure; two, US policy in Afghanistan will not succeed without Pakistan being on board.
In the world of realpolitik, this is known as an opportunity. So why must Asif so cravenly accept the Americans letting loose their Special Ops troops and raining down missiles in Waziristan when he can happily unleash? He had every chance at his debut press conference; instead, he bizarrely chose to speak alongside Karzai. The Afghan president is about as popular in the Pakistani Army as George W. Bush in an Al Qaeda training camp.
What is the problem in Afghanistan? In a word: Karzai. Don’t take my word for it, here’s what The New York Times had to say in an Aug 20 editorial: “Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, must rein in his government’s rampant corruption that has all but driven his people into the hands of the Taliban and criminal warlords.” What then was Asif doing at the side of a man not only discredited in the West but hated by the Pakistan Army?
Another thing: the western – read American – strategy in Afghanistan has failed. Again, don’t take my word for it. Francesc Vendrell, the EU envoy in Kabul for six years, had this to say over the weekend: “We are not destined to fail, but we are far from succeeding.” Earlier, Vendrell told Stephen Sackur of BBC’s ‘HARDtalk’: “I do leave with a sense of regret that we’ve made so many mistakes. … we’ve got to do a hell of a lot to make things right.” In the euphemistic world of diplomacy, this is the equivalent of saying “we’re a disaster.”
Given this record of western failure why does Asif have to be so apologetic for Pakistan’s failure to help out the Americans in Afghanistan? There are 26 Nato and 14 non-Nato countries contributing troops to Isaf. Each country’s rules of engagement are so complex and dense that were the Taliban to walk right up to some Isaf troops and dance a little jig, certain countries would still not allow their soldiers to shoot. Why then must Pakistan always ‘do more’?
Perhaps if Pakistan wasn’t actually doing something about its Taliban problem – somewhere, anywhere – the supine cravenness of Asif before the Americans would be understandable. Except that we are. Bajaur and Swat are being pounded mercilessly, militants are being flushed out, leaders are being knocked off. But the Americans aren’t satisfied because Bajaur is at the northern tip of the tribal belt while they are more concerned with the southern bit. Waziristan, north and south, and the Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Nazir networks exercise the Americans. Meanwhile, 300,000 Bajauris flee the bombing and Ambassador Patterson, de facto American leader in Pakistan, announces that $50,000 has been set aside for “gas stoves, pots, utensils and plastic sheeting”. Well, fantastic. That’s less than the cost of a Hellfire missile fired from a predator. So for Asif to denounce the American forays into Pakistan wouldn’t be jingoistic nationalism – it’s common sense. For one, Asif need only imagine how much less common sense than nationalism there is in the army. For another, he has an unbelievable luxury – he can. Everyone knows the Americans can’t really afford to be on the wrong side of Pakistan. Jack Straw and the French have already distanced themselves from the strikes inside Pakistan. Here’s more from that NYT editorial, with the alarmist headline ‘Afghanistan on Fire’: “Sending American troops or warplanes into Pakistani territory will only feed anti-American furies. That should be the job of Pakistan’s army, with intelligence help and carefully monitored financial support from the United States.” If all these important – western – folk think American Special Ops running around Pakistan and blowing up the place is such a bad idea, why must Asif be so tepid in his criticism?

Local political leadership is knocked out

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
Local political leadership is knocked out

By DJ Mathal

Once again the so-called political leadership of Gilgit-Baltistan has testified its hollowness. When former president Pervez Musharraf was at the peak of his power, the elected representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan toed his lines claiming that they were supporting the PML-Q for the best interest of the people of the region. But as soon as the downfall of Musharraf came and the PPP ascended to power, these opportunists changed their colors like a chameleon and continued the same mantra of national interest. These elements have caused irreparable damage to the political system of the region during the last over 60 years. As a result, lotacracy has reached its peak in the area.
In fact the people of the region have been voting such elements to power and sending them to assemblies for the last over six decades but the so-called leaders have no vision of their future objectives. This is the reason that public mandate has been insulted time and again. The question also arises here that why Pakistan accepts such turncoat politicians. It is because to perpetuate the Pakistani rule over the region.
Pakistan People’s Party is a well-known democratic party but unfortunately it has also welcomed turncoat politicians into its fold. This time it also seems that the PPP would make use of the PML-Q turncoats to come home to roost in Gilgit-Baltistan.
If Pakistan stopped accepting and promoting lotas in Gilgit-Baltistan, true representatives of the people would get a chance to come to lead and struggle for the rights of the region.

People in Hunza slams job discriminations

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA: The leaders of political and civil society organisations from Hunza have blamed the Gilgit-Baltistan administration for nepotism and favouritism in recruitments for government jobs in which sectarian and regional considerations were being employed by organised pressure groups and mafias that rule the roost in bureaucracy and political organisation of the region.
The population of Hunza valley is about 60,000 and the literacy rate for both men and women is above 80 per cent. The share of Hunza in public sector employment is, however, negligible. A large number of youth were employed in tourism and NGO sectors but both of these sectors were badly suffering due to law and order situation in Pakistan. There is strong feeling of resentment against the discriminatory policies of the present administration.
Talking to this correspondent, Fida Karim, president, Pakistan Peoples Party, Hunza, said that only six persons out of 200 have been appointed from Hunza for National Highway Authority (NHA) police, which is to be deployed for the security of Chinese engineers and builders engaged in the expansion of Karakoram Highway (KKH). This is in clear violation of merit and discriminatory as Hunza is the most affected region since about 210 kilometres of the road out of the total 300kms pass through Hunza.
He said the vacancies were not advertised properly to achieve this end. Hoor Shah, president, PML-N Hunza, also complained that the jobless youth from Hunza, qualifying on merit, were excluded to employ the kith and kin of the influential people.
He said that there were only 50 policemen from Hunza in the Northern Areas Police Department compared to 300 from just one village of Gilgit.
Aziz Jan, Chairman Union Council Gojal, criticised the Chief Executive Ghazanfar Ali Khan for turning a blind eye to these irregularities. He said the Government of Pakistan was earning millions from Hunza by way of taxes, tourism etc but the share of the local people in public jobs was negligible.
Amanullah, convener, Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance said that Hunza was considered the most literate and educated region not only in Pakistan but also in developing countries and this was proved in national and international level exams.
He said Hunza only demands to be treated on merit in appointments and no special favour.
These leaders also condemned the establishment of camp office of the newly announced Hunza-Nagar district in Gilgit. They demanded additional seat for Hunza in Northern Areas Legislative Assembly (NALA) before declaring Hunza and Nagar as districts. They also demanded the posting of Deputry Commissioner (DC) and Superintendent of Police (SP) from District Management Group (DMG) in the newly established Hunza-Nagar district.
Public circles have also condemned the violation of merit in appointments and demanded neutral, high level investigations in recruitment procedures of Northern Area Police. They have also threatened to resist if any discrimination is shown to the people of Hunza valley during the establishment of Hunza-Nagar district and KKH expansion.—Dawn


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