No more packages – we need freedom

Pix in Genva Conf

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No more packages – we need freedom

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

ACCORDING to reports, the Legal Framework Order of 2004 enforced in Gilgit-Baltistan is being replaced with a new constitutional package. The package envisaging a separate president, prime minister and cabinet, a high court and a public service commission for the region is in the final stages and the government has also finalized discussions with the local PPP leadership in this regard. Sources say under the new package, Gilgit-Baltistan will be given self-governance right. Besides giving financial and administrative powers to the legislative assembly, the number of its members will also be increased from the current 36 to 40. There will also be reduction in the 50 per cent reserved seats. The Northern Areas PPP president Syed Jafar says that all issues regarding Gilgit-Baltistan have been finalized and soon the over 60-year deprivation in the region will be removed. It is also reported that Prime Minister Gilani will visit the region to announce the package after taking the parliament into confidence on the issue.Whether military or civilian, successive governments in Pakistan have for the last over 60 years done the same trick in the names of so-called packages and hoodwinked the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan. This time too, it seems that the government in order to continue its rule over the area has tried to use the same trick. These types of modus operandi used by Pakistan have been responsible for keeping the people of the region enslaved for the last 61 years.Instead of going into the details of the tricks played with the people of the region for the last over six decades, it will be suffice to have a cursory look at the state of affairs in the area during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf to find out how even a powerful dictator could not heal the sufferings of the region. If that is the case, then it is useless to expect from a government mired in the issues of socio-economic woes and wordwide terrorism to give us our due rights. The PPP-led coalition government needs plenty of time to brings its own house in order and in such a circumstance how it will take care of the issues of Gilgit-Baltistan. So it is only to save its own reputation and avoid backlash from the international community and make them believe that we have given them all constitutional and administrative rights that the government is staging the drama of yet another package. If at all this government announces a package for the region, it will not be different from the one formulated by former president Musharraf. If there will be any small-scale differences then the people of the area will never accept it.However, some opportunist elements have started propagating that a very good news was in the offing for the masses. Such elements had also cried hoarse before the announcement of the Musharraf package and placed advertisements in the press announcing Mr Musharraf as a saviour of the nation. However, when the time to implement the package came, the masses not only rejected the document but also took to the streets against the package. We believe that this time too the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will not be satisfied with the proposed package, nor the so-called internal sovereignty will solve the problems of the region. The people have been demanding autonomy or AJK-like setup but their demands have always fell on deaf ears. We believe that internal autonomy will bring no changes in the area nor it will safeguard the region’s culture, traditions and languages. The two million people of the region demand that their unique identity should be recognized. Do the government and the local leadership of the PPP want to end the 61 years of deprivation of the region through yet another package? If this is the case then the government should clarify its policy on Gilgit-Baltistan and tell the world that why and for what reason it has controlled the region for the last 61 years after sabotaging its independence. Who is responsible for the violations of human rights in the region for the last 61 years? Who is responsible for the blood of innocent people killed during frequent sectarian clashes orchestrated by the government agencies? The locals have suffered poverty, illiteracy and unemployment due to rampant corruption in government departments and their resources are being plundered unchecked. A large number of our youth were killed while defending the borders of Pakistan and during the Kargil war the NLI personnel were particularly made a scapegoat. The dead bodies of the brave sons of the soil are still buried at Kargil mountains, as the government refused to accept their bodies after terming them mujahideen. The people of the region are justified to also ask if the perpetrators of Kargil war would ever be brought to justice.When the demand to explain the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan started to increase, the government took the stance that it would damage the cause of Kashmir. This is ironic that on the one hand Pakistan has been holding peace talks with India for the last many years and on the other is adopting all means to keep away the people of Gilgit-Baltistan from the peace process.These are the questions to which neither the rulers in the past had an answer nor those at present have. Gilgit-Baltistan does not need an AJK-like set-up because the reality of the AJK government has now been very clear to the people of this region. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan now understand that their struggle should be aimed at achieving an independent state for their own, where they could be the masters of their own destiny. We advise the PPP government to stop misleading the people on the issue of Gilgfit-Baltistan. Those who have been trying to be more loyal than the king should also understand that Gilgit-Baltistan is not an internal issue of Pakistan rather it is an international one and should be treated as such. Our local political leaders should take some time out and study the UN resolutions on the issue and also look at the agreements signed on various occasions between India and Pakistan, so that before issuing misleading statements they could understand the actual realities.

Pakistan, India, UN criticized

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008
Pakistan, India, UN criticizedPeople of GB victim of Kashmir issue
BRUSSELS: The two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been the worst victim of the Kashmir dispute, and Pakistan as well as India and the international community are equally responsible for the misery of the residents of this disputed land. Had the world community, and the UN in particular, fulfilled their obligations under the UNCIP resolution of 13 August 1948 we would not have been the last colony of the world in the 21st century and all Pakistani troops and other officials would have been withdrawn from our area in accordance with the UN resolutions and a local government formed under the surveillance of the world body. This was stated by Abdul Hamid Khan, the Chairman of the Balawaristan National Front (BNF), while addressing a conference organized by a well-know NGO called Interfaith International in Geneva recently.Mr Khan said his party, the Balawaristan National Front (BNF), has been struggling for freedom since 1992. Balawaristan is a disputed part of Jammu & Kashmir which came under Pakistani administrative control on November 16 1947. “I feel proud of rendering whatever struggle I can for my people due to which I have been compelled to live in exile since March 1999,” he said. He alleged that on the directives of Pakistani dictators, security agencies have been working to conceal the Gilgit-Baltistan issue from the international community and spent millions of Euros to press the matter under the carpet and distort our image. “Even a propagan campaign was launched against an impartial and respectable member of European Parliament, Emma Nicholson, who took up the issue in the European Parliament. However, the propaganda failed to achieve its designs and Ms Nicholson succeeded to make Gilgit-Baltistan issue part of a European Parliament resolution.” The resolution was adopted by 522 votes, against only nine in favour of Pakistan.Speaking in length on the history of the Gilgit-Baltistan, he said the region got independence on November 1, 1947. But soon due to lack of political awareness among our brave troops a Pathan naib tehsildar (3rd class magistrate) sent from the NWFP to help the newly established country’s administrative affairs made himself the ruler of the area after dividing the local people on sectarian lines and started to humiliate the national heroes. On 28th April 1949, truce terms were passed under the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) under which Pakistan had to withdraw its troops from Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan within seven weeks. Later, this period was enhanced to 12 weeks on the request of Pakistan. Under the UN agreements, human rights and security of boundaries were guaranteed and like in other parts of Jammu & Kashmir a local government was to be set up in Gilgit-Baltistan under the surveillance of the UN Commission.However, instead of facilitating the withdrawal of its troops and establishment of a local government, Pakistan on April 28, 1949, – the same day when truce terms were signed in UNCIP – concocted a fake agreement through its then minister without portfolio Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani and the so-called Azad Kashmir president Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Muslim Conference’s Ghulam Abbas by keeping the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the dark. According to article 8 of the so-called pact, ‘all matters of Gilgit and Ladakh will rest under the political gent.’ We reserve the right to register cases against all the three persons including government of Pakistan under the charges of forgery.GENERAL PROVISSION OF UNCIP: A. “The territory evacuated by Pakistani troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the commission”. B. “It will be made publicly known throughout the state of Jammu and Kashmir that peace, law and order will be safeguarded and that all human and political rights will be guaranteed”. C. These terms are without prejudice to the territorial and the sovereignty of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Khan, however, alleged that all these terms and conditions were violated by Pakistan. Instead of withdrawing troops their number was multiplied. “Today 25,000 troops including 5,000 intelligence personnel, 5,000 Rangers and 40,000 armed men are present in the region. What to talk of provision of human rights, these rights are even not considered at all. We even cannot move the court of law against violations of human rights. We have no political rights. We have no right to elect our representatives. Neither we have our own provincial assembly or a national assembly nor Senate.”Our people have been put behind bars when they demanded their rights since 1971. Instead of safeguarding our borders Pakistan has been involved in conspiring to shrink our borders and encroach upon our land. A vast area of Astore and Baltistan was lost to India during different periods. In 1963, a 2,500 square miles area of Shamshal in Hunza was ceded to China without bothering to ask anybody from Gilgit-Baltistan or the UN. He also alleged that a vast area on Shandur Pass was occupied by the Frontier province of Pakistan, because as always administration officials of Gilgit-Baltistan come from that province and helped their native Pathans occupy our land instead of defending our area. Now in the name of Diamer Dam not only a conspiracy is being hatched to submerge a big chunk of our land but also efforts are being made to destroy our culture, history and identity. It is also a part of Pakistan design to depute two or at least one division troops with the pretext to protect this so-called dam on the disputed land. It is an irony that Pakistan is seeking financial help from European Union to build Diamar-Bhasha Dam on this disputed land, which is a conspiracy against the indigenous people.EDUCATION: We have been given a so-called university called Karakorum International University in the same manner as we have been hoodwinked in the name of democracy by giving us a powerless body named Northern Areas Legislative Assembly. We have also been befooled by renaming a degree college as a university. How an institution with which no technical, engineering or medical college, no law college, no business institution is affiliated can be called a university. In the service sector, the local people are being kept in subordinate posts in the police, army, judiciary and local administration. Powers are vested in non-local officials who treat their local subordinates and area people like slaves.SENSITIVE: Everything is described as right when the question of exploitation comes but when we talk of our rights the issue is termed serious and sensitive by Pakistani rulers. We say this area is sensitive, this belongs to us we have been living here for generations and are to live here. You please go back, because of its sensitivity.SECTARIAN PREJUDICE: This was started in the 1970s during late ZA Bhutto’s government to divide people into sectarianism. Whenever any peaceful or democratic struggle is launched, the secret agencies hatch conspiracies and ignite sectarian clashes to divide the locals and continue their ruleSTATE SUBJECT RULE: By using religion as a weapon, outsiders occupied the local land while in other parts of Kashmir non-locals cannot purchase land. Now the land and mountains of our motherland are being snatched from us on the pretext of lease. More than 2,000 leases were given to Chinese and other companies in the recent past. How a country can give lease of an area to others when it has no legal authority in the area. We appeal to the civilized world through this gathering to put pressure on the government of Pakistan to:1) Withdraw troops from Gilgit-Baltistan in line with the UN resolution to which President Musharraf had also referred;2) Stop encroaching on Gilgit-Baltistan land and return Shandur, and stop work on Diamer Dam. Also give us back the area in Shamshal which was ceded to China in 1963. Cancel allotment of land to outsiders and hand over the retrieved land to the owners.3) Make arrangements for holding elections to the legislative assembly in the presence of international community representatives and withdraw sedition and other fake cases against political leaders of the region.4) Set up an independent High Court and Supreme Court and appoint local judges on merit not on the consideration of political and religious connections.He also appealed the participants of the conference to support his party so that the two million indigenous people of Balawaristan should be given the right of self-governance and cases against all the nationalist political leaders are withdrawn, so that a peaceful democratic process to determine the future of the region in the context of Jammu and Kashmir could be started.—Correspondent

Zardari hailed for terming Kashmiri

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

Brussels: The United Kashmir Peoples National Party (UKPNP) has welcomed what it said the bold and historical statement of President Asif Ali Zardari that those who are fighting in Jammu Kashmir are terrorists. “It is also welcomed that India was never a threat to Pakistan. Party’s international secretariat at Brussels has emphasized on the President to use his influence and office to disband Lashker-e-Tayyaba, Harkatul Majhadeen, and their umbrella organization Muttahida Jihad Council and bring its chief to justice. All those terrorist organizations are responsible for killing thousands of innocent men, women and children in the valley and its suburbs as well some other parts of Jammu and Poonch district,” said a statement issued by the UKPNP secretary Jamil Maqsood. It also reiterated its focus of peace, security and peaceful endeavor to educate world community on Jammu Kashmir issue.”We think that Pakistan should realize the importance of peace with its neighbors particularly India and that it should revive social, cultural, political, constitutional, democratic and national rights to the people of both peripheries of so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan immediately.If Government of Pakistan would take pragmatic initiatives regarding social and political empowerment of the people of these marginalized regions it will earn good name among the world community.”

HR situation grim in N.As: report

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: A non-governmental organization working in the fields of human rights and social development in Pakistan has drawn a grim picture of socio-economic and human rights situation in Gilgit-Baltistan, saying the region has been denied its due identity for the last over six decades.Speaking at a workshop on human rights awareness, the program director of Sangi Development Foundation said successive governments in Pakistan, both military and civilian, had completely ignored the area since independence. He said even the 1973 Constitution was silent on the basic human rights in the region. The so-called legislative assembly has no powers, while a single individual sitting in Islamabad is calling the shots in the area which is a violation of human rights and against norms of a civilized society, he added. He said Pakistan has been controlling the area for the last 61 years but it has failed to integrate the region into the national mainstream against rules and regulations. He said NALA was devoid of all powers and hence to call it a legislative body was a joke. He said in Pakistan too a selected group remained in power and it always worked for its own vested interests.He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should rise and work for attainment of their basic rights and in this way they can ensure their rights in 10 to 20 years. He said he had come to the area to launch the awareness programme so that people could be mobilized for their rights. He said people of Gilgit-Baltistan were well aware of their rights and they can run a successful movement for the rights. He said rights meant political freedom and construction of roads or bridges etc did not mean that the people were given their rights. He said society got progress when the people had the powers to form policies and implement them by themselves.He said the establishment rule on its controlled area not govern them. He said it was imperative that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan started a movement to achieve their rights. Taj Mohammad Taj and Ms Parveen also spoke on the occasion.

Bajaur blockade to hurt Chitralis too

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008
By Zar Alam Khan
ISLAMABAD: Nestled among the Hindukush mountains, the district of Chitral has so far remained unaffected by the war on terrorism. But in the coming winter the Chitralis are likely to be locked up in their rugged valley due to the blockade of the Kunar-Bajaur route which they have been using as an alternative to the over 10,000-foot-high Lowari Pass from December to May every year. When the Lowari road connecting Chitral with other parts of the country remains closed due to hundreds of feet deep snow for about five months in winter, the people of the district take the alternative route via Afghanistan’s Kunar province and enter the Bajaur Agency via the Nawa pass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to reach other parts of the country. However, the ongoing military operation has made Bajaur a no-go area this year. To avoid being completely cut-off from rest of the world, the residents of Chitral have demanded that the government should make special arrangements for resolving their communication-related problems before the closure of the only road linking the valley with the rest of the country via the Lowari Pass. In this regard, they stressed the need to increase the number of PIA flights from Peshawar and Islamabad besides starting a helicopter service like one launched in 1996 between upper Dir and Drosh in Chitral by the then NWFP government. They warned that if the PIA suspended the Islamabad-Chitral flights on the pretext of unavailability of passengers this year again, they would launch a protest movement against the government. It may be noted that the PIA had launched its Chitral service from the federal capital in June last year on the repeated demands of the residents to lessen their communication problems besides facilitating foreign tourists visiting the area. However, the national-flag carrier suspended the operation in November 2007 citing lack of passengers. The Chitralis, however, alleged that some elements in the PIA were opposed to the initiative and had tried from the very beginning to sabotage the service by denying tickets to the intending passengers and inflicting losses on the corporation. They said the PIA was also to be blamed for the lack of passengers on the Islamabad-Chitral flight because neither it had publicised the launch of the service nor facilitated the intending passengers in getting tickets. Besides, to discourage the passengers it kept the fare at Rs3,600 against Rs2,900 for Gilgit which is situated at a longer distance from Islamabad than Chitral. The people of Chitral pointed out that the return flights from their town always remained full to capacity while ticket seekers in the PIA’s Rawalpindi and Islamabad offices were turned away on one pretext or the other.—chitral update

Call to cancel leases issued to outsiders

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

By Our Correspondent
HUNZA: The Progressive Youth Front has called upon the government to immediately cancel all leases issued to outsiders in all parts of Gilgit-Baltistan including Yasen-Gandayi, Nasirabad and Hunza.At a meeting held in Aliabad, Hunza, the Front leaders also demanded legal action against those responsible for resorting to force against unarmed people protesting the issuance of leases to outsiders in Yasen-Gandayi. They also demanded that cases registered against the residents should be withdrawn. The meeting which was also attended by notables of the area discussed the prevailing situation in the region.The participants said every government in Pakistan betrayed the people of the region and served only lip-service to resolve their issues. They said all tactics were being used to loot the resources of the region and keep the locals deprived of basic rights and facilities. They said people of the region were with the youth in their struggle for attainment of basic constitutional and socio-economic rights.

Extension of PEMRA to N.As opposed

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

GILGIT: Chairman Noor Foundation Mr Hashim Hussain has termed the government’s plan to extend the jurisdiction of PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority) to Gilgit-Baltistan a strange move and said the decision would be taken to the court of law.In a statement here, he said the region was exempted from all taxes because it still remained deprived of all basic rights. He said the final decision regarding PEMRA would be taken by the Northern Areas Cable Operators Association. He said if the decision was not withdrawn, they would resort to all means to oppose the move.—Correspondent

Tributes paid to Kashmiris

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) Manzoor Hussain Parwana has said on the occasion of the historic day of October 4, he on behalf of his party and the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan pays tributes to the people of Kashmir and their political leaders for once again drawing our attention towards the moments in history during which we as a free nation had also carved out an independent state for ourselves. Every year by commemorating the day as the day of independent republic of Kashmir, the people of Kashmir draws the attention of the free and civilized world towards the people of a region who have been subjugated and kept deprived of all basic human rights by two democratic countries for the last over half a century.It is a fact that India and Pakistan have never respected the wishes of the people of Kashmir but turned the valley into a garrison area for achieving their own vested interests, where every Kashmiri sees his brother and sister being killed on other side of the bloody border.Apart from the injustices of the governments of both the countries, the so-called political leadership of Kashmir has also taken undue advantages of the situation at the cost of the people of Kashmir.The mujahidden, separatists and conferences who claim to get the region liberated by force from India and accede to Pakistan have further compounded the situation. I believe that the day when each Kashmiri realizes that Kashmir is not a property of its Muslim inhabitants alone but all who live here including Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Pundits have the right to rule and neither they want to accede to Pakistan on the basis of religion nor they want freedom from India due to anti-Hindu sentiment but want to make their region an independent state without consideration of caste, creed and religion, only then the day of independence will dawn in the region. On the historic day of Kaashmir Democracy Day, I want to call upon the people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to expedite their efforts and struggle for attaining freedom for their region so that peace and prosperity prevailed in the region including South Asia.

Islamophobia and western ignorance

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

By Tika Khan
The beautiful mosaic of global demography, Muslim populations among the other earthly inhabitants, makes one of the major components of the global community. Muslim world is suffering from a fall of its deciduous make-up, once admired in the crown ships and royal courts of emperors and kings in the east and west equally. In the limelight of written history, Muslim societies are not an exception; rise and fall are two radial portions of a cycle joined together and following an alternation of crest and trough.This is not for the first time that the Muslim philosophers and thinkers have tried to reactivate and renovate the out-fashioned mental taboos evolved in the Muslim societies over a long period. Early reformers have tried to use simple but effective religious and political tools to influence and address the series of social, cultural, intellectual and religious crises generated because of misinterpreted decentralization of religious and political authority.The dawn of industrial revolution in European continent spread its mighty ray beams in all directions which affected almost every aspect of life and lifestyles of urban and rural communities slowly and gradually even in the remote and geographically isolated areas of the world. This expanding more mechanized world powered by the mighty steam engines carried immediate effects of change to every corner of the world within a very short span of history. Muslim communities not prepared to respond properly towards the changing mode led several communities to react traditionally, setting a trend for the future that continues until today in most of the Muslim world. Muslim reformists and modernists have approached modernization and its challenges in both institutionalized and non-institutionalized ways. Several of them have succeeded to some extent while others to a greater extent in their cause so to synergize the past into present enabling people to live in the present and think for future optimistically and wisely.Modernization rapidly facilitated globalization, making the global communities more inter-dependent and more pluralistic in nature. Several western theorists postulate an antithetical relationship between Islam and pluralism focusing purely on the contemporary radical trends of these minor segments of Muslim societies across the Muslim world without probing into insights of their socio-economic roots leading towards socio-political offshoots, history of rigidity and concerns.The only way out for the global communities in general and Muslim world in particular to relieve and come out of the turmoil of confronting modernization is if collectively invest, promote and appreciate norms and values of civil society, tradition of tolerance, respect for diversity and engaging communities in construction (pluralism), encouraging human rights protection and dealing political conflicts timely. Above all, the dream of global peace can be viewed in realization of divine message given to the world of humanity that all human beings have been created from a single soul, which unites them spiritually regardless of their cast and creed, race and gender, religion, poor, and wealthy, all are bonded to each other.Ill-envisioned power games across the political and cultural boundaries have marginalized some religious, social, racial and cultural groups from the mainstream and suicide bombing industry in the Muslim lands and Islamophobia in the west are its fallouts that have threatened the global peace. Great powers following the Huntingtonian social theory of ‘clash of civilizations’ proved to be built on intellectual ignorance have divided and deepened the divide sponsoring ignorance equally in the east and the west. This is the time to revisit the concept of clash of civilizations and accept the fact of ‘clash of ignorance’ to help global community to heal its sufferings rather deepening the wounds of global society.

Geneva Declaration on Intra-Kashmiri Dialogue

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008

We, leaders, political activists, journalists and members of the NGO community:1. Express our strong condemnation of terrorism and violence in all its forms and manifestations;2. Unanimously declare that the Kashmir dispute is not a religious or a territorial problem, as it concerns our fundamental right of self-determination; that the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, Jammu, Valley and Ladakh, is one political entity; and that its division in any shape or form is inacceptable;3. Reaffirm our commitment to continue our struggle for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute and oppose forces of communalism, extremism and hatred;4. Strongly believe that there is no military solution to the Kashmir dispute and that the continuation of violence and terrorism will only result in loss of more innocent lives, suffering and destruction;5. While supporting the process of dialogue and confidence-building measures, express our concern at the lack of tangible progress; strongly urge that the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes Gilgit-Baltistan, be made part of the peace process; and emphasize that no political party or alliance has the requisite representative character to speak on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which implies that the peace process must be all-inclusive and broad-based so that all regional and ethnic leadership is represented at the negotiating table;6. Emphasize that violence on all sides must cease; urge the Governments of India and Pakistan to create a conducive environment so that the peace process can secure the support of all sections of Jammu and Kashmir; and advocate the development of a mechanism for an internal ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir so that the people may have some relief from continued violence and intimidation;7. Urge the authorities to make a concerted effort to rehabilitate those who have been evicted from their homes and properties, compensate families that have suffered at the hands of the militants or the respective government forces, and introduce appropriate safeguards to ensure that people uprooted from their homes because of trouble in Jammu and Kashmir can return to their homes with dignity;8. Call on the Government of Pakistan to respect and honour the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, and, pending the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute, to establish a democratically elected body with all requisite powers in Gilgit-Baltistan; and urge the Government of Pakistan to discharge its Trust Obligations undertaken under UNCIP resolutions with regard to the territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan;9. Exhort the Government of Pakistan to reverse all actions taken in violation of the State Subject Notification of April 1927 and halt the settlement of Pakistani nationals in Gilgit-Baltistan and in the territories currently under its administration; urge respect for its contractual obligations undertaken at the United Nations in regard to Mangla Dam; and stress the need to stop the illegal construction of planned mega dams in Gilgit-Baltistan in order to prevent the uprooting of many local inhabitants;10. Urge the Governments of India and Pakistan to incorporate in their Kashmir-specific confidence-building measures UNCIP proposals on freedom of travel of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular by opening up all traditional routes (for example Mirpur-Jammu and Skardu-Kargil) and simplifying travel procedures so that the people of Jammu and Kashmir can interact, socialize and trade with each other;11. Call on all leaders on both sides of the divide to think as Kashmiris and promote the interests and welfare of the common Kashmiri people, and in so doing to forget the bitterness and hatred of the past and agree on a common minimum programme for peace, stability and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir in particular and in South Asia as a whole;12. Appeal to the Governments of both India and Pakistan to stop propaganda against each other and to discourage and curb those forces which create hatred and mistrust, including religious and sectarian discrimination;13. Emphasize the need to release without further delay all prisoners and detainees who have no criminal records on both sides of the Line of Control (LOC) and withdraw sedition charges against the political activists of Gilgit-Baltistan; and urge both Governments to facilitate the early return of all those who crossed the LOC in the 1990s and now wish to start a new life in peace and harmony;14. Request the Governments of European countries, in particular the United Kingdom, and those of Canada and the United States of America, to recognize and include their citizens originating from the State of Jammu and Kashmir in their ethnic monitoring and data collection systems as Kashmiris and not as Indians or Pakistanis;15. Call on the United Nations and the international community to assist the Governments of India and Pakistan in encouraging a pro-people, accountable, transparent and democratic political culture in the State of Jammu and Kashmir;16. Recommend that urgent measures be taken for the restoration of autonomy in its pristine form in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, consistent with the Instrument of Accession of 1947, the Constitutional Application Order of 1950 and the Delhi Agreement of 1952;17.Express our gratitude to Interfaith International for organizing this conference to promote intra-Kashmiri dialogue during a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council; greatly appreciate its unceasing efforts to highlight the plight and suffering of people in various parts of the world, especially with regard to the advancement of the cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and welcome the contribution of our sister NGOs, like United Kashmir Human Rights Commission.

Eid mubarik, Pakistan?

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday , October 11——-October 17, 2008
By Ali Ashraf Khan
The month of Ramazan in which Muslims perform Jihadun Nafs by keeping fast from dawn to dusk and indulge in other prayers & rituals including taraweh and distribute annual charity has reached its climax in the last week and Eidul Fitr was celebrated without its usual fervour. But the real fasting though not in the name of Allah Almighty may not yet be over and is sure to be still coming. Eid with all its joys and excitements should not be as easy-going and joyful as the years before because the country is facing real trouble economically as well as politically. Politically, the ongoing army operation in the tribal areas might hardly give the people there any reason or leisure to prepare for Eid celebrations with usual pomp and show. Sitting in make-shift refugee camps or on the run from the bullets and missiles of militants, Americans, NATO or Pakistan army they must not have felt like celebrating any festival, specially when part of our country came in direct aggression of NATO and American air and ground attacks in which hundreds of innocent civilian including children and women were killed during the month of Ramazan without any justification.The volatile security situation in the rest of the country with police, army and rangers heavily deployed to secure public places, important roads in the capital city and the houses of our esteemed politicians remained normal with the exception of an untoward incident that took place in Walibagh, Charsadda, where Asfandyar Wali was meeting visitors and receiving Eid greetings when a suicide attacker struck killing five people. Our popularly elected President decided to leave us in the lurch and to celebrate his Eid outside the country. “Let me have my small little peace,” he must be thinking, “who as President should now be caring for the rest”! Prime Minister has himself allowed reducing his position to second in present parliamentary democracy with a complacent parliament unconcerned on foreign intrusions and killings in FATA and other areas. So much about the dedication of the “democratically elected” representatives, where in the hour of need they have to take care of their private problems first, and the nation is secondary, otherwise NATO or Americans would never dare to act in such a most blatant, unlawful and uncalled for manner, which can be termed replay of the Great Game adventure, which the West could not win due to insurgency of these very people in Afghanistan and Tribal areas. Although the Great Game is usually taken to refer to the conflict of British and Russian interests in Afghanistan, there was also intense rivalry in Persia and later on in Tibet. “The Great Game” as an analogy or framework for events involving India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and more recently the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia. In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski published “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives” which advocated a 21st century version of the Great Game. World media have referred to the current conflict between international forces and Taliban forces in Afghanistan as a New Great Game. Britain was alarmed by Russian expansion into Transcaucasia at the expense of Persia, while American lust for oil wealth has given a life time chance to Russia to regain its lost position.Historically speaking, the region which includes “Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Province has seen perhaps more invasions in the course of history than any other country in Asia, or indeed in the world.” During this period, when the plains had been dominated by great powers, the hill tracts and tribes continued to protect their independence. With the dissolution of One Unit on 1st July, 1970, theTribal Areas of Dir, Swat, Chitral, Malakand, and Hazara Territory were included in the NWFP. Similarly, the tribal Areas of Balochistan, namely the Districts of Zhob, Sibi, Loralai and Chagai were made part of Balochistan. The rest of the Tribal Areas, namely the Agencies of Mohmand, Kurram, Khyber, Bajaur, Orakzai, North Waziristan, South Waziristan and the adjoining areas of Kohat, Peshawar, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan Districts were declared as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).On partition of India, constitutionally, the Tribal Areas became independent and it was up to the new state of Pakistan to enter into fresh agreements and treaties with the tribal chiefs. The tribal chiefs, Maliks were also cognizant of the fact that they would have to enter into new arrangements with Pakistan under terms and conditions that would guarantee the rights and privileges they enjoyed earlier under the British raj. For this purpose, the new state of Pakistan secured through its political agents in the tribal agencies an agreement with the maliks in 1947. Under this agreement the maliks declared the Tribal Areas as part of Pakistan and pledged to provide any help to the new country whenever the need arose. They also made a commitment “to be peaceful and law abiding and to maintain friendly relations with the people of the settled districts. In return and “on the foregoing conditions the Government of Pakistan pledged to continue the existing benefits, therefore there is no need for any fresh legislation on status of FATA.The economic situation of our country is not rosy either. With the foreign currency reserves going down by the day and financial collapse looming large, the news coming from the US that our “friend and partner” in the war against terrorism and the “friend and partner” towards which our ruling class is looking forward for bail-out is alarming to say the least. Their own bail-out bill was defeated in the Congress recently with 228 votes against only 205 in favour. Interestingly, the bill forwarded by the Bush administration has been defeated by their own party, the Republicans who may have there own frustrations with the policies of the outgoing President Bush. Besides, the usefulness of that bill had been seriously questioned by skeptics on both sides of the political divide. The most important argument though of the critics of the bill has been that why should taxpayers be made to pay for the mess which the banks and financial institutions have created while maximizing their profits. Those who benefited from the fraud should now come forward to save it with the money they had been making earlier. The immediate reaction of the failure to adopt the bill was a severe slide of the shares at Wall Street by almost 700 points. The stock exchanges in Europe and Asia have followed suit. Now a revised bill is being tabled to give a face saving to the ruling elite in USA.There are at least two lessons to be learned from all this. One, with regard to the solution of our own economic and financial problems we should stop looking towards the US and Europe. The future – economic and otherwise – is clearly lying with Asia. Our government has to stop day-dreaming and should start finding our own selection of “friends of Pakistan” on the basis of the newly evolving geo-economic and geo-political situation. Lesson number two is with regard to our elected representatives and government officials who should take an example from the members of the US Congress: Instead of fleecing the state exchequer they should start respecting the taxpayers and work for their interests and not their own.Now the world is witnessing the replay of the great game which has been initiated by a coterie of Texas oil magnates who had earlier masterminded to steal elections in 2000 by a court order without scrutinizing the tricks used in machine counters not registering many of the votes in favour of Mr. Algore to get into White House and create more miseries for the peaceful world outside their hemisphere, but today it is poor American who are facing all the brunt due to mismanaged defense, economic, financial and political policies for their personal benefits, this has bounced back destroying American economic and political system, which trillion of dollars rescue plans would not be able to save, the rest of the world linked to dollar regime will also face the heat generated by this turmoil.Afghanistan and Iraq, which American will never ever win is the root cause of this turmoil which may change the power balance in the world again unless the new elected government is capable to read the\ writings on the wall and honours the vision of Barack Obama and Joe Biden to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, which has made each and every American insecure inside and outside USA and their economy is crumbling like a house of cards, while the government is out to burden the taxpayers more and more. Pakistan , which has been turned into a battleground is hard pressed in the absence of a visionary leader to lead them in this hour of crises, rather it is the dilemma of the entire Muslim world except Iran and Hammas leadership, which has mass support at their back and will be able to face this challenge from the West. The world politics at the moment is being played between Islam and the rest, while the irony is that they are doing this all with the support and cooperation of Muslim quislings, who are used by the enemies of Islam to terrify the Muslim world for the success of their Western agenda.Unless we change the mode of our thinking and working in Pakistan from living on borrowed money to a policy of self reliance, there is no hope for survival and bright future for our nation. Pakistan was not created in 1947 to just exist, the object was to get rid of the economic domination of Hindus, but today we have turned it into American colony. It is time to revamp our failed policies to establish a modern welfare state for the inhabitants of Pakistan . To achieve this target we have to tighten our belt and become an early bird then the early worm. Agricultural reforms is the only way out, which has been badly neglected in the past, our capacity to think with dignity and honour has been sabotaged, rather it has been destroyed under a scheme of things. To reverse it is not an uphill task, simply we must try to bring in a national consensus to produce our own food for the national consumption and develop our own industry to provide clothing and other requirements and then export the surplus, this is the only available solution to our ailing economy if we decide to follow an independent path and get rid of dollarization phobia.The present world turmoil is leading towards another great war, where the traditional allies Britain and America will be facing the rest of the super powers. It is therefore time that the Muslim world is united and acts according to the tenets of Islam as laid down in Surrah Luqman to save themselves from the oncoming foreseeable turmoil and shape of things taking place on the world scene. Here every one of us must remember that the present friendly and sympathetic gesture of Americans are not for the sake of peace, rather this is to destroy the rest of the world and achieve peace for themselves, which they can only achieve if they opt to rule over graveyards, because this is the only and ultimate fate for those who try to play with the divine laws of nature.

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