Are we a free nation? Issue-16


Are we a free nation?

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
(Editorial)
Are we a free nation?
According to Eminent philosopher Rousseau, man is born free but everywhere he is in chain. The word ‘freedom’ encompasses many forms and meanings. The land where one opens eyes is called his motherland and the emotional and spiritual attachment one attaches to his motherland is beyond any definition. The value of freedom is realized better by those who are deprived of this God-gifted attribute. It does not suit a nation having a rich culture to remain slave. Nations always fight to preserve and protect their honour, culture, languages and identity. There is no nation in the world which does not realize the importance of freedom.However, unfortunately, during the last over 60 years the people of Gilgit-Baltistan could even notconsider it worthwhile to think whether they are free or not. It is true that the people of the region had risen for independence on Nov 1, 1947 but it could not be sustained for a long time and soon fell victim to the occupying forces. There was a very dangerous drama staged to link the “independent republic of Gilgit” with Islam and Pakistan and complete the mission of the dying British imperialism in the subcontinent. On the other hand, a naib tehsildar from the NWFP, Sardar Mohammad Alam Khan, was brought to Gilgit to help the nascent country in its administrative affairs. However, he not only played havoc with the 16-day-old independence but also adopted whatever was humanly possible to prolong the colonization and make the people subjugated for long.We consider that since Nov 16, 1947 Gigit-Baltistan has been under the control of Pakistan. During this period, Pakistan adopted every tactic to prolong its rule over the area by sometimes using the fake signatures of so-called political leaders and sometimes dividing the people by sectarianism etc. Sometimes the masses here were hoodwinked through packages while on other occasions human rights violations and denial of basic rights were justified by saying that it was to protect the cause of Kashmir. Pakistani rulers also kept the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan secret from the world and sent the bureaucracy from Punjab and NWFP to rule the people in the region. The bureaucracy exploited the people and made them believe that very soon their condition would change.With the change of every government in Islamabad, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were told that the new rulers would ensure provision of all facilities and basic rights very soon. However, now the people of the area especially the youth have become aware of the intentions of the rulers and they understand that the Pakistani rulers cannot be sincere with the local people, neither the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan should trust the rulers for their emancipation. The new generation has reached the conclusion that trusting the rulers anymore would be tantamount to prolonging the slavery of the region. The people have also become well aware of the Nov 1, 1947 independence and its perspectives and now have resolved to expedite their struggle for attainment of their rights.Every year, federalist as well as nationalist parties in Gilgit-Baltistan celebrate Nov 1 as the Independence Day with pomp and show. However, many questions also arise on the day whether we are really independent. People have also understood now that this day has no relevance with independence as we still have to achieve that basic right. Nov 1 is the day in which the masses should resolve to end the slavery which started due to the political immaturity of our political leaders 61 years ago.

BNF for opening of Srinagar-Astore and Skardu-Ladakh routes

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
BNF for opening of Srinagar-Astore and Skardu-Ladakh routes
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Chairman Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Abdul Hamid Khan has termed the opening of trade routes between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir a good omen for the people of Kashmir.He said with the opening up of trade routes, cultural, social and economic relations between the divided people would be cemented further. Talking to workers on the phone from the International Secretariat of the party in Brussels, Mr Khan said the opening of the routes between the divided areas of Kashmir was the need of the hour and the nationalist leaders deserved praise and congratulations on this occasion. He said it would facilitate the people to meet their near and dear ones besides changing their economic conditions through trans-border trade.However, the BNF leader pointed out that there remained much to be done as far as the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were concerned. How unfortunate that injustice it is that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, which is the most important party to the Kashmir issue, have been left out of the process and are awaiting the opening of their historic routes to Ladakh and Kargil for a long time.He said trade routes were being opened on the Kashmir border after introduction of a bus service, while people were also interacting and trading through the Wagah border in Punjab. But at the same time the people of Gilgit-Baltits are being denied their rights to interact with their near and dear ones across the border. They have also been denied their right to freely carry out trade through the centuries-old route in the region. The BNF leader called upon the governments of both India and Pakistan to open the Srinagar-Astore and Skardu-Ladakh routes without further delay.He regretted that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have suffered a lot due to the Kashmir issue but they have always been betrayed by the leaders of both India and Pakistan.When it comes to sacrifices, our people are made the scapegoats in all fronts but when it comes to taking benefits of the issue we are turned away on lame excuses,” the BNF leader further said.He warned the leaders of the two countries not to chanllenge the patience of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by denying their legitimate rights otherwise the masses would rise against them and snatch their rights. He demanded that the region of Gilgit-Baltistan should also be linked to the Central Asian states fro trade and cultural exchanges so that the people of the region could be provided avenues of trade and economic activity. APNA: The Jammu Kashmir All Parties National Alliance (APNA) has welcomed the beginning of tarns-border trade from the borders of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar and Poonch and Rawlakot in Kashmir.In a press statement issued from Rawalpindi, the office-bearers of the alliance including M. Iqbal Advocate, Wiqar Kazmi, Sabir Kashmiri, Farooq Niazi, Arif Shahid, Prof MARK Khaleeque and Wazir Shafi called it a partial success of their struggle, adding it was APNA who had been campaigning for this purpose for the last 7/8 years through statements, meetings, marches, processions and demonstrations and candle burning on all the roads between Muzaffarabad and Chakothi (last point of border from). While, they said, the opportunist and power hungry politicians of Pakistan controlled Kashmir especially those who are in the fore-front were today trying to take credit of the event after terming it just a day-dream of a mad man. However, they have expressed their dissatisfaction over the narrow scope and limited nature of this trade and its procedure, which, according to them, was too complicated, cumbersome, symbolic and limited. They demanded that routes between all parts of Jammu Kashmir including Kargil-Skardu should be opened for trade and tourism in full swing with simple and easy procedure, so that every citizen of Jammu Kashmir could engage himself in the process. The leaders of APNA believed that Jammu Kashmir dispute could only be resolved through such peaceful political, economical and cultural steps and activities in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere. The leadership of APNA also welcomed the decision to hold elections in Indian-Administered -Kashmir (IAK) and called it the victory of democratic process. They appealed to the people of JK to fully participate in these elections to seize power through democratic process, so that they could be able to raise their voice through genuine political institutions preferred in the world at large. IKA: Welcoming the steps taken to open trade between the two divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir, vice-chairman IKA Mumtaz Khan has hoped that the initiative will be followed by genuine, serious and sincere efforts to empower the people and divided regions.In a statement issued in Toronto, he said the CBMs were long awaited initiatives that will not only mitigate the grievances and pains of division but can also lead to the greater harmony, understanding and economic and political integration of these regions. If both the governments are genuinely committed to making these CBMs meaningful it will usher in a new era of friendship, goodwill and regional development and integration in South Asia, which is still a dream and big challenge to these nations. It is time to move forward and take further steps that can enhance the present initiatives. However, there are serious concerns about the success of present CBMs, not because of the existing mistrust and hatred but due to ignoring a very important part of the dispute, Gilgit-Baltistan which is widely ignored economically and politically in the disputed state’s parts.There are further steps needed to be accompanied in order to demonstrate that no region will be left out or ignored. But absence of Gilgit-Baltstan from present CBMs creates genuine concerns for all people and leadership that really believe in the restoration of historical, cultural and political relations among people of these three regions that has been a single entity. There is a genuine need to involve all regions and open up the historical routes and connections among them. Gilgit-Baltsiatn is important part of the dispute that suffered more than any other region and people of state Jammu and Kashmir; economically, politically and socially, which remains unrepresented, underdeveloped and undermined in many ways since the division of state and control of Pakistan. But maintaining the complete silence about Gilgit- Baltsitan and showing no interests to involve this region and its people in the ongoing CBMs may creates misgivings and undermine the CBMs.

Tress, mostly poplar, are changing colours with the approach of winter in Hunza

Drug addiction on the rise in Gilgit-Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Drug addiction on the rise in Gilgit-Baltistan
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: When we look into the history of the areas colonized in the past one thing which we see very common is that to destroy and subjugate a nation the occupiers first of all made the youth of that particular country addicted to drugs. The problems arising out of the colonization of Indian subcontinent and China are still in front of us. In China, before the revolution of Mao Zedong the whole nation was made addicted to opium. On the other hand, coming to the country as traders the East India Company made the people of the subcontinent an addict of tea and cigarette smoking and then ruled over them for about a century. Today when we look around we find only one area where people are still colonized and that is Gilgit-Baltistan. It may be noted that till 1980, there was no trace of charas in the whole region let alone the menace of heroin. But then the supply of charas to Gilgit-Baltistan started from NWFP and Fata and very soon heroin and opium were also made available in all corners of the region and the youth of the area started becoming addicts to the drugs. However, even by 1990 the number of charas addicts was very meager but soon the drug peddlers of the NWFP started reaching every village of Gilgit-Baltistan.The drug peddlers have made their dens at Swat from where drugs including charas, opium and heroin are shifted to Jaglot in a large number and then supplied to far-off areas including Ghizer, Astore and Baltistan.Today the youth of the region has been dragged into drug addiction and we can see agents of drug barons selling drugs in almost all corners of the region without any check. As a result, youth including university, college students as well as school-going children have become addicted to drug use.This has put the future of the region at stake as there is no system to check the menace in society and all agencies supposed to check the crime seem to be a silent spectator and there is even no check on the smuggling of drugs through the Karakoram Highway.It is time the educated section of the region created public awareness about the effects of the menace on the youth which can be disastrous for the future of the region.

Colonial system root of all problems

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Colonial system root of all problems
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The representatives of non-governmental organizations working in the fields of human and women rights in Gilgit-Baltistan have expressed concerns over violations of basic human, economic and political and democratic rights in the region. They have demanded that the government should empower the local people to run their affairs themselves and stop human rights violations especially that of women as soon as possible. They were speaking at a consultative workshop organized by ASR Resource Centre, a Lahore-based organization, with the collaboration of United Northern Areas NGOs (UNAN). The workshop was part of the consultative meetings aimed at developing a comprehensive report about the status of women in Gilgit-Baltistan to be presented to the United Nations as part of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Representatives of about 25 village-based social welfare organizations participated in the workshop.The representatives of ASR briefed the participants about the CEDAW convention and said that it is for the first time to include the status of women in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir in a national level report.The participants criticized the present political, human rights and economic situation in Gilgit-Baltistan, the injustices of the KANA division and the bureaucracy and denial of basic rights to the region for the last over 61 years. They said these were blatant human rights violations and should be stopped. They said the elected representatives of the local people should be given powers to run the affairs of the region and any decision regarding the future of the area should be taken in consultation with the local residents. The speakers on the occasion pointed out that all problems including those related to sectarianism, law and order and deprivation were rooted in the colonial system which was still enforced in Gilgit-Baltistan due to which the people of the area were faced with a severe type of frustration. They said until the people were given their legitimate rights of self-rule and the colonial system was done away with, rights violations cannot be checked.About women rights, they said though violence against women in the newly-formed Hunza and Nagar valleys was negligible; however, they are still deprived of basic health and education facilities. The representatives of local organizations said that accessibility was the main issue as compared to social and cultural barriers for female education and employment. They reported that the highly scattered Hunza and Nagar valleys lack schools, colleges and vocational institutes for women. They said literacy rate of women in Hunza was high due to the efforts of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) but the government had failed to provide further development opportunities to women.They said that there was not a single gynecologist for a population of about 70,000 women in Hunza and Nagar valleys. They said AKDN had made a great contribution to the development of women in the region. Representatives of women organizations also highlighted the issues of inheritance and the preference of parents for sons over daughters.Parveen Ali Jan, member, District Council, Gilgit, said that improvement in education had also improved the status of women in the region. She said health facilities were really poor in the region and there was lack of awareness about what constituted a balanced diet particularly during pregnancy. She said nutritional problems have had a negative impact on pregnancy and lactation of the women.Focus group meetings were also held with women groups, government officials, political representatives and media personnel. Some of the participants, however, criticized the government and organizers for not engaging the real representative organizations of women in the consultative process.Pakistan signed the CEDAW convention during 1996. By signing this agreement it was ethically and legally bound to take all necessary measures to end discriminatory policies and laws and discourage all traditions that hindered women’s progress and equality with men. Pakistan had hardly been able to introduce even some cosmetic measures in this regard. The situation further got worse in Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA and Azad Kashmir. The government made no effort to extend the implementation of international agreements to these oppressed areas. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan were already facing a problem of identity and citizenship. These factors were further affecting women. The ASR has, for the first time, initiated this process in Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK so that CEDAW could be implemented in these oppressed areas.

Skardu youth body joins BNF

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Skardu youth body joins BNF
SKARDU: A meeting of the Kargil Sector of Skardu Youth Organization was held here the other day. The meeting presided over by Arif Sargani, President of the Organization, passed a number of important resolutions besides debating the current scenario and role of the nationalist fraternity. The role of nationalists was praised and they vowed to fully support Mr. Hyder Shah Rizvi of BNF. At the end of the meeting a resolution was unanimously passed in which it was decided to dissolve the cabinet of the organization and join Balawaristan National Front. The participant’s appealed to the BNF’s chairman Mr Abdul Hamid Khan to help Hyder Shah Rizvi in the forthcoming elections and expressed their full and legitimate confidence in the political struggle of Mr. Abdul Hamid Khan.The meeting was attended by Secratery Khadim Hussain Ferdos, press secretory Mr.Khadim Hussain Akhwandzada, the organization’s spokesman Mr.Amjad Hussain, Vice President Mr Khadim, and other members including Sajid Hussain, Muhamad Parvi, Muhamad Zakir, Akbar Hussain Pardesi, Fida Ali Tabasum and other members participated.—Correspondent

Land owners demand

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Land owners demandcompensation By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Land owners affected by dozens of uplift schemes here have demanded that the government should pay them compensation without further delay.It has been learnt that a large number of land owners have not been paid compensation for the last five years.When contacted, officials said due to paucity of funds the payments had not been made to the affected people.The land owners said funds allocated for their compensation had been utilised for other purposes.”Since contractors give commissions to executive engineers of works department, they prefer to make payments to the contractors instead of land owners,” said Suleman, a land owner who has been pursuing his case for the last four years.District Magistrate Gilgit Sardar Saifullah Dogar, who exercises the powers of collector, said besides utilisation of the amounts on other projects the planning and development department lacked funds. He said there were also some irregularities in the process which were being eliminated.

Call to protect women rights

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Call to protect women rights
CHITRAL: A one-day seminar on experience sharing regarding women and human rights was organized here by Easy & Equitable Access to Justice Program Chitral. Tehsil Nazim Chitral Sartaj Ahmad Khan was chief guest on the occasion while the ceremony was presided over by Maulana Khaleequz Zaman, Khateeb Shahi Masjid Chitral. The workshop started with the recitation from the holy Quran. Niaz Ali Shah, Chairman Board of Directors, Legal Awareness Program for Human Rights (LAPH), briefed the stakeholders about issues, challenges and social status of women in present society. He also briefed the participants regarding women rights on legal point of view. Dr Saleema Hassan, gynecologist and member Board of Director LAPH, said that often parents expressed their dislike in case of delivery of a daughter which is not justified. She said sons and daughters should equally be treated by their parents because they have equal rights. She called for discouraging marriage of girls in very young age. The tehsil nazim asked the stakeholders to streamline and frame a joint strategy for protection of women rights by involving of all stake holders including religious scholars and women forums.—Chitral Update

Children present a skit at a function at sultanabd Danyore

Freedom of 1947-48 – myth and reality

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Freedom of 1947-48 – myth and reality
By Tahir Jan Hunzai
For nearly half a century, the Pakistani politicians and bureaucracy have been teaching the people of Balor that ‘the then public of the region gained independence from Dogras on their own by fighting with and kicking them out after which they affiliated with Pakistan’. The public in Gilgit-Baltistan came to believe in this fake story and are complaining to the Pakistani politicians that they aren’t endowing the rights that the Balor people deserve. If looked with a closer view we will come to know that the ‘epic saga’ of our independence is not as we are taught by the establishment and civil bureaucracy of Pakistan, instead the then ‘independence’ was sold to Pakistan by our high officials of that sovereign state of ours.If the then so-called national heroes and founders of the newly born country or had the slightest element of conscience they would have made their own independent constitution to safeguard the rights of their land and people and if felt necessary affiliate with Pakistan on the condition that it will not interfere in the affairs of their state and so would have it functioned smoothly and today we would not be in this position to complain for nothing good. When we talk of rights we generally mean the right of public to run the affairs of the state according to their own wishes but this right won’t ever be endowed upon the people of the region by the military and civil bureaucracy. Let’s examine to what extend the local leadership was involved in this independence of ours and what role was the British army playing. Were the local rulers free enough to take such decisions on their own? Or the rein was solely in the hands of the British? It is said that the Giglit Scouts acted independently and on its own while staging a war against the Dogras and the arrest of Ghansara Singh after which Mr. Shah Raees was made President of the sovereign state and hence started the full fledged war resulting in freedom of Astore and Baltistan. It is stretched to such an extent that the Gilgit Scouts even reached Kashmir! No doubt the Giglti Scouts would have fought with bravery but they didn’t fightt on their own they were rather ordered to stage a war from the high-ups which were mostly the kins or other blood relatives of Mirs and Rajas. If one is to understand the battle of 1948 it is indispensable to have a strong knowledge of the then economic and geo-political scenario.After defeat in the war of 1891 not only Hunza but the whole of Balor came under the stronghold of the British. The British did not directly rule the region but nominated the people of their choice as the Mirs and Rajas of various stated in Gilgit Baltistan. These Mirs and Rajas remained loyal to the British Raj as the position bestowed upon them was completely on their part of the British Raj while the people of the region had no say in all this process. These Mirs and Rajas were mere servants of the British Raj with no power either legislative or administrative and some Mirs and Rajas were even paid for their work.The only work remained for the Rajas and Mirs was to look after their own people so these frustrated with their own very limited powers started to harass their own people. The only business remaining for them was to exploit their own people which they did to the full extend. These Mirs and Rajas had the job to snatch one’s land and give to the person of their like or favor, lock people in their own land and nobody was allowed to cross the boarder without the permission of the Mir which was never granted. If the British Raj needed people to fight, these Mirs and Rajas were there to provide men for fighting or other chores.The role of Mirs and Rajas has been even embarrassing after 1891. Prior Yasen and Hunza were known for their revolutionary stunts and war adventures but after 1891 the Mirs and Rajas brutally suppressed these people and the ‘element of revolution’ in the souls of these people was demolished. The people of Hunza who were once viewed as blood thirsty and the Gilgit state was looking towards them as a threat were now mere oppressed souls silently bearing every evil assault of the Mir of Hunza on their very personal, material and family rights. The slavery mind of the Mirs and Rajas can be estimated from the fact that these didn’t utter a single word in protest when the so called Miri system of ruling was demolished. Another eye opener is the fact that the rein of various paramilitary troops and militias which is known with the name of scouts was in the hands of British and the role of Mirs and Rajas was just to the extend of providing manpower of the lower ranks even the kins of these Mirs and Rajas were mere subedars and jamadars (officers of the JCO rank). The very purpose behind the establishment of Gilgit Scouts, Punyal Scouts and Yasen Scouts was to just make them tools to use in the ‘Great Game’ described by John Key and the decision makers in these scouts were British officers.The question arises here as why did the British Raj didn’t left the affairs of the state to their own appointed Mirs and Rajas after leaving the Subcontinent? It is because when they were leaving the Subcontinent they created a Pakistan as it would serve as a base for the British Imperialism for a long time and Pakistan remained very much loyal to the British Imperialist even after losing a major half of the country it didn’t stopped to work for the benefits of the Global Imperialists as America. Anyone with a sound understanding of these facts will clearly understand that the ‘independence’ that we so much celebrate is not the struggle of people of the region but a mere drama. After 1891 when Mirs and Rajas were nominated by the British Raj the people of Balor were suppressed and they lost their once popular war stunts so it is not true to say that the people of Balor fought for their independence. If the then independence fighters were so much conscious they should have fought and arrested the British officer Major Brown instead because the root cause of their slavery were the English but the saviors of independence fought with the Dogras and arrested Brigadier Ghansara Singh who like them were slaves of the English after which they acceded to Pakistan on the very orders of the British Raj.It is the bad luck of the region that it was devoid of leaders like Gohar Aman of Yasen and Safder Ali of Hunza at that time, otherwise the course of history would have been much different. Today after a lapse of approximately half a century the people of Balor are still in the same old chains but the enigma is that no measure is taken to get freedom or the right of decision which can only be achieved when the tough realities of history are swallowed.

Azadi Mubarak to Gilgit-Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Azadi Mubarak to Gilgit-Baltistan
By Noor Muhammad
The house of Governor Ghansara Singh of Gilgit Agency, a name the British colonizers gave to our region, was under a siege. Jawans of Gilgit Scout, guns in hand, had delimited the house, to make sure that the governor did not escape.Ghansara was alone but armed. He wasn’t a coward and kept resisting the scouts who were asking him to come out in the dark night and surrender. Flickers danced in the darkness for hundredth parts of a second as Ghansara Singh and the Scouts exchanged fire. Suddenly a bullet pierced through the body of Sepoy Amir Hayat, a member of Hunza Platoon, making him the first martyr of Gilgit – Baltistan’s war of independence.The exchange of fire increased as the scouts learnt of their comrade’s martyrdom and, soon, Ghansara Singh was without any ammunition. He came out, hands up, and was arrested. It was the first morning of November. The year was 1947.The independent Islamic republic of Gilgit, “Islami Jamhuria Gilgit”, had been founded. Shah Raees was nominated president of the republic. The Gilgit Scouts was being led by Babar Khan, Ehsan Ali and Shah Khan. They were joined by rebellious Muslim officers of Kashmir Infantry including the charismatic Col Mirza Hasan Khan, Major Durrani and Major Jaral, among others. A revolutionary council was formed and tasked to work closely with the revolutionary government. Col Hassan became the supreme commander of the revolutionary scouts, divided into three companies; the Tiger, the Ibex and the Eskimo led by Babar, Ehsan and Shah Khan, respectively.The rebellious Gilgit-Scout then marched towards Bonji Garrison, forwarding the war of independence. It wasn’t an ordinary occasion. The subjects had risen to reclaim their independence from the masters after decades of silence. The government of Pakistan came to their help, at later stages, and the Dogra forces were chased out of the region. Seventy-two thousand square miles of land was liberated by the poorly armed, poorly trained, semi-military organization.In the meanwhile, the Pakistani government sent its representative, a naib tehsildar, on the request of some local rulers as a political agent. The independent state of Gilgit was demolished, existing only for fifteen days, and the president of the defunct republic was happy getting a job in the revenues department.These accounts of the war of independence are well documented in books written by leaders of the revolution, historians and other intellectuals. Mirza Hassan’s “Shamsheer say Zanjeer Tak”- a self eulogizing account of history that uses condescending remarks for his companions, tries to pocket all the credit for the revolution for the author. He is presented as the ‘liberator’ of the land. Shah Khan’s “Gilgit Scout ki Kahani” tries to rewrite the history by countering claims of Mirza Hassan, offering an alternate story as the ‘truth’. Professor Hasan Dani, a distinguished historian, has also described the events in his various writings, including books. Similarly, Major Brown, William the British commander of Gilgit – Scout at the time of revolution has also documented his account in the form of a book.It seems that the war of independence has fallen prey to people seeking credits for their role in it. This, undoubtedly, has overshadowed the zeal, the struggle, and aspirations of the common men, the low ranking officers of the Gilgit-Scout, the soldiers and other freedom fighters not listed on Gilgit-Scouts payroll, like Mujahid Bakhtawar Shah.Today, after sixty-one years of that epic struggle, our political future remains shrouded in mystery. There is a feeling among a segment of the youth that may be the struggle of our forefathers was not worth it.The question of accession to Pakistan remains unanswered despite tall promises by the likes of Jinnah, Bhutto, Ayub Khan, Benazir, Musharraf and, even Zardari. No progress has been made in terms of increasing participation of the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the national mainstream. We are not represented in the national legislative bodies. The northern areas legislative assembly is a mockery of the institution that it claims to be.This uncertainty has given rise to confused regionalism or belligerent nationalism besides contributing to sectarianism in the region. However, we wish all the people of Gilgit- Baltistan a very happy independence day on November 1. Our forefathers may not have been able to give us independence, in the true term, the definitely have shown us the path. We shall remember, cherish and follow their examples of unity, determination and sacrifices for a common cause.Let’s resolve to increase our independence by breaking chains of poverty, illiteracy, sectarianism and silence simultaneously struggling to achieve our political rights through peaceful political ways. For sure we are not enjoying the fruits of freedom, but the flames of hope and determination shall not die.

N. Areas chief executive loses Sost dry

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
N. Areas chief executive loses Sost dryport battle
HUNZA: The trustees of Sost Dry Port won a long-drawn battle against the former management after the Northern Areas Chief Court rejected the objections of Chief Executive Ghazanfar Ali Khan against the recently-held election to the port’s board of directors. The two-member bench comprising Justice Sahib Khan and Justice Muzaffar Ali held the election to be “legal, transparent and according to the direction of the court.” The bench also notified the result of the election held on October 6, according to which Afsar Jan was elected chairman, Hoor Shah senior vice-chairman and Raza Mohammad vice-chairman of the Silk Route Dry Port Trust. Mr Afsar Jan got 77 out of 133 votes against only one vote cast in favour of Mr Ghazanfar. The civil judge of Aliabad conducted the election. The new chairman has announced that the names of all shareholders will be included in the trust deed and from now onwards recruitments in the port will be made strictly on merit. He accused Salim Khan of illegally acquiring a loan of Rs50 million from the National Bank of Pakistan in the name of the port development by faking the signatures of seven Pakistani and Chinese directors and management personnel.With the chief court’s verdict, the nine-year controversy between the trustees, mostly poor people and community organisations, and Mr Ghazanfar Ali Khan and his family over the management of the dry port trust has apparently come to an end. The trustees, in particular the people of Gojal-Hunza, have heaved a sigh of relief. Some of the trustees hoped that the new management would probe the irregularities and alleged embezzlement of millions of rupees committed by the former management and recover the money from them.They also hoped that the new management would run the affairs of the port efficiently and with transparency.Mr Ghazanfar and his supporters saw the writing on the wall and did not participate in the election. He filed a petition with the chief court to postpone the polls for six months. But the court rejected the plea and ordered the civil judge Hunza to conduct the election according to schedule.The dispute erupted when after taking over as deputy chief executive in 2004, Mr Ghazanfar started misusing his powers and allegedly misappropriated port revenues. Moreover, he did not convene any board meeting causing frustration among the shareholders. He also deprived the 124 shareholders and 147 landowners of their rights and occupied the port forcefully with the help of local administration to turn the trust into a family property. The trustees consequently removed Mr Ghazanfar and his son Salim Khan from the positions of chairman and vice-chairman of the dry port trust and Silk Route Port Company, respectively, on April 4, 2008, for their alleged mismanagement and irregularities in the affairs which not only disturbed the peace of the region but also affected the friendship of Pakistan and China.—Courtesy Dawn

Cultural dogma or approach dilemma

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, November 1——November 7, 2008
Cultural dogma or approach dilemma
By Tika Khan
Northern Areas of Pakistan by virtue of its varied geographical milieu have remained in isolation and have bred to nourish a variety of cultures. Therefore, each valley in the area has its own cultural and traditional norms, values and tangible settings that reflect an inherent diversity of cultures, behaviors, and social dynamics making each other unique to the outside world. Moving around in the urbanized and semi-urbanized areas does not project and reflect that uniqueness but their periphery does. Cultural misunderstandings have always been a source of conflict and clash within and across sects. However, many development giants look at and use cultural strengths for the wellbeing and development fostering peace, security, economic wellbeing and prosperity. For the last four years, my personal efforts have been to understand cultures in the living laboratories of nature. Obviously, these are beautiful and fascinating. Several youth dialogue and lecture sessions, interviews with aged and educated people revealed the fact that communities are confused with what is happening around them, where and how to put their culture in an ever changing world of today.Educated people if not confused over the definition of culture, are definitely confused over its practice and translation. This confusion even deepens when leaders from religious, civil society background and knowledge society endorse cultural revival and conservation. Does culture really matter in the life of an individual, community, or a nation? If yes, then, do we really understand what culture is? What to protect and what not to protect? Does loss of past make any difference? Why not mono-culturalism? that would be the gift of random ill-planned and unprepared globalization. This writing emphasizes on the holistic understanding and appreciates some of the best practices and initiatives to conserve the cultures in the way that suites the most. Process of globalization is NOT and has NEVER been a new phenomenon but has always been existing in the history of all dynasties, civilizations, different geographical settings and across continents.However, in the recent past means and ways of communication have improved in their quality and quantity and such an accelerated communication across geographical and political boundaries has set instant realization of its effects, which was not possible in the olden days. A professor of sociology from Peshawar University once concluded that ‘culture means strategies to meet needs and wants of human beings’. Strategies that attempt to address social issues, needs and wants. Indeed, such kind of strategies are framed and shaped by several indigenous factors. Among these factors, nature of geography, available resources, wisdom and technology of the time are the principal ones. Factors are ever changing; therefore, strategies are innately dynamic in nature. Ever changing strategies make cultures dynamic and changeable, modifiable and customizable. In a situation of dynamism, do cultures of a certain period could be retained or practiced forever?What strategies can help humanity in balancing the globalization and cultures? The strategies in question must aim at creating an environment where people develop with the time scale and do not loose their cultural identities. Our way of doing things in this regard through sloganeering, empty statements and high-sounding rhetoric will not help our cultures to protect themselves from globalization encroachments. It requires political will and concrete tangible steps to save cultural depletion. Cultures are the living histories of different geographies, dynasties, nations, civilizations and different groups that carry true knowledge depicting delicate aesthetics, engineering, wisdom, technology, fine feelings, thinking patterns, governance, economy, politics and religion, resources, language and means of expression, climatic severity and level of overall development.Northern areas have never been explored scientifically and comprehensively to understand its intricate cultural and social fabrics and richness. However, professor Dani of Quaid Azam University has identified some archeological sites and German researchers have conducted studies to unfold many treasures including socio-anthropological aspects in the Karakuram belt, Northern Areas but it requires more to improve the development and to sustain quality of life without at the cost of cultural identity.Aga Khan Culture Service Pakistan likewise in other parts of Asia and Africa has identified several cultural and historical monuments and heritage sites in the northern areas. Some of these important representative sites are already restored and some are in the process of restoration. However, this process needs to be enhanced and expedited in a view to save heritage before its extinction. Government line departments must come forward to encourage and support the private sector to restore, institutionalize and commercialize to sustain its longer existence. Restoration process has inculcated a sense of belongingness, awareness and feeling pride where such activity has taken place and has helped to engage strengths in social development. Such type of initiatives has not only improved the relations across cultures but has promoted peace, harmony and sense of attachment with the locale, people, norms and values. Engaging communities in restoration and similar initiatives will bridge cultures with religious teachings to adopt a culture of efforts, hard work, quality life and relations across cultural, religious, political and geographical boundaries. In this way, a wider section of people would be able to contribute to peace process that would help those who inject respect for diversity, engage communities in construction of society. Role of such institutions that work across barriers and boundaries is inevitable to decrease sense of disparity among the cultures and religious groups to improve the overall peace and security situations around the world. Help helping hands to fight ignorance and marginalization to make this world a safer place to live.
The writer is Lecturer in biological sciences at the Federal Government Degree College Aliabad, Hunza.

Abdul Hamid khan Message

Issue-16

Bang editorial page Issue-16

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s