UN should implement its resolutions
During the third committee session of the United Nations General Assembly on the right to self-determination, Indian envoy Rajev Shukla claimed that Kashmir is an integral part of India His Pakistani counterpart Abdullah Hussain Haroon refuted the claim and said Kashmir is a disputed region and UN resolutions have also accepted it as such. During this, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon offered to mediate in the dispute. The whole world is aware of the resolutions of the UN on the Kashmir issue. Therefore, instead of attaching anything positive to the resolutions people should be made aware of the actual facts behind these documents. The issue of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan was taken to the UN on the appeal of India after the Indo-Pakistan war of 1948.On August 13, 1948 the UN for the first time pressured India and Pakistan to come to a ceasefire. Under this resolution, Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed region. The UN had first asked Pakistan to withdraw its civilians and military forces from the region and directed India to reduce its presence in the region. At the same time the twenty million people of Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan living in the 84,471 square miles area had the right to decide their future on their own. But both the governments have been trying to prolong the issue for the last over 60 years in order to subdue each other. India has been adamant on using the issue of Kashmir as revenge to the division of the subcontinent while Pakistan has been playing the card of religion to cause destruction in the region in response to the separation of Bangladesh in 1971. The issue is a question of life and death for the people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and its prolongation would not be interest of the region. We see that the issue of Kashmir has been lying in the UN since its inception and both India and Pakistan have used delaying tactics to implement the resolutions and blamed each other for the delay. Both the governments have been issuing statements on Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan but their stance has no relation with the actual facts on the ground. If we accept the stance of Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Mr Haroon that Kashmir is a disputed region acknowledged by the world body, we may ask him that if it was a disputed area then under which law his country has kept the region under its control for the last over 60 years? If this is a disputed region then what the Pakistani forces, military and civilian bureaucracy are doing in the region? When the gentleman refers to the UN resolutions on the issue can anyone remind him that under the very resolutions Pakistan was required to withdraw its military and civilians from the region within 12 weeks? Can the envoy also tell us where the borders of the disputed Kashmir begin and where they end? Is he, like Jamaat-i-Isamai, considering only the valley of Kashmir as a disputed region? The statement of the Indian ambassador also seems a farce because he considers the whole Kashmir as an integral part of India . If the whole area is an integral part of his country, why his country has remained silent over the fact that two large chunks of the region – 28,000 square miles Gilgit-Baltistan and 4,000 square miles Pakistani controlled Kashmir have been under the control of Pakistan for the last over 60 years. Why his country has also been silent over human rights violations in Gilgit-Blatistan. When Bugti is killed the Indian foreign office issues statements on Balochistan but New Delhi cannot see any injustice in our area. Instead of offering mediation on the issue, the UN secretary general should pressure both the countries to implement its resolutions in letter and spirit. The objective of the establishment of the UN was end dispute in the world and to mediate between nations but unfortunately the people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan still look towards the world body for attaining their basic right of self-determination even after over 60 years. Only mediation offer would not be suffice the UN secretary general should work to resolve the issue during his tenure. He will also have to take notice of the 61-year-old deprivation and human rights violations in the region, The resolution of the lingering dispute will not only ensure the basic rights of the area people but will also bring economic prosperity and peace to the subcontinent.
By Our Correspondent
By Our Reporter
government should make history, culture and languages of Gilgit-Baltistan a part of syllabus from the primary level to the university level.The resolution said a large number of NLI personnel were killed during the Kargil war and the government of Pakistan left their bodies on the Kargil hills saying that they were mujahideen, not the NLI personnel. It demanded that the bodies should be brought back and buried at their ancestral areas with full military honour and action should be taken against those responsible for launching the Kargil war.In the name of Diamer and Skardu dams, Pakistan wants to submerge our areas and change the local demography. We warn the government against construction of the Diamer dam because under the UNCIP resolution this area is disputed and Pakistan has no right to launch mega projects in the disputed region. We also appeal to the World Bank and other international donors not to provide funds for the controversial projects.Until the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan is resolved, Pakistan has no right to tax the local population and, therefore, should refrain from imposing tax in the region under “no taxation without representation” rule. Sometimes our traders are compelled to pay tax at the Sost post and sometimes we are asked to pay tax at Kohistan checkpost. Besides, mobile companies have also started levying arbitrary taxes on the people in the region. The gathering also demanded that the government should withdraw baseless cases registered against nationalist leaders. Cases lodged against Balawaristan National Front chairman Abdul Hamid Khan should also be dropped and he should be allowed to return to his country with respect and without any fear.
By Our Correspondent
Abbottabad: It is time students community of Karakoram stand up to attain rights denied to the people for the last over six decades. This was stated at a seminar-cum-cultural show organized by the Karakoram Students Organization, Hazara Unit, in connection with the Independence Day of Gilgit-Baltistan at Jalalabad Auditorium in Abbottabad. A large number of students studying in nearby areas attended the programme. Those who spoke on the occasion included chairman KSO Hazara unit Kshif Ali Boonjui, President Engineer Mujahid Ali, Maroof Shah Advocate, Dr Chaudhry Afzal Siraj, student elader Syed Tasawar Kazmi and Athar Kazmi.The speakers stressed the need for a joint struggle for attainment of political, social, constitutional and economic rights.They said under a well-planned conspiracy, people of the region had been divided on sectarian and regional lines in order to keep them in perpetual subjugation.They stressed that the new generation should understand the conspiracies and come out of the prejudices, hatred and promote unity in their ranks to attain their basic rights and safeguard their identity, culture and traditions.Artists especially invited from Gilgit-Baltistan presented traditional show on the occasion which was appreciated by the participants.
Govt policies blamed forseparate tendencies
GILGIT: Speaker Northern Areas Legislative Assembly Malik Mohammad Miskeen has acknowledged that due to the wrong policies and attitude of the bureaucrats of the Kashmir and Northern Areas Affairs, the separatist movement is gaining strength and roots in the region. Talking to Bang-e-Sahar, he said under the UNCIP resolutions the right of self-rule should be given to the people of the area. He said the chief executive of the region should be given the powers which are enjoyed by a chief minister. He claimed that the package introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf envisaged such powers for the chief executive but the bureaucracy at the Kana division sabotage the package before it could be implemented. He said at present there was rumours that the present government is about to bring yet another package. He said we would welcome any package but to overrun the one introduced by Musharraf will be dishonesty, he added. Mr Miskeen said due to lack of powers with the local elected representatives corruption had permeated all departments in the region. He said due to rampant corruption in the forest department the national kitty has suffered a loss of over 15 to 20 million rupees. Irregularities in NATCO have brought the department at the verge of destruction. In the department of local bodies and PWD, he added, all records of corruption had been broken. He said had the package of Musharraf been implemented, today the Public Accounts Committee would have made all departments accountable and returned the looted money. He regretted that compensation amount has not been paid to the affected people of a road constructed three years back. In reply to a question, he said the government should ensure self-rule in the region and make the bureaucracy subservient to the elected representatives so that the sense of deprivation among the people would come to an end.
Postgraduate college still a pipe dreamin Chitral
CHITRAL: The upgradation of the government college to postgraduate level remains to be a dream for the students which had been announced four years ago.The students complained here on Friday that the college had sufficient space to accommodate postgraduate classes in many disciplines. Introduction of postgraduate classes would mitigate the sufferings of the students who had to travel to Peshawar and other cities after their graduation in Chitral. Students said that the provincial government made a prompt action and allocated funds for construction of additional blocks which included an information technology block. Additional rooms had been completed but shortage of teaching staff and provision of laboratories to cater to the requirements of postgraduate classes was currently the major problems. Library of the college, they said, also needed upgradation by adding new books while the existing space was also sufficient to accommodate hundreds of students at a time. The students demanded that postgraduate programmes in humanities as well as science groups including computer science, chemistry, botany and environmental science.—Chitral Update
By Noor Muhammad
Once there was a herd of human – like, the locals, living in a very beautiful, enchanting and a heaven-like valley located between towering, snow-capped mountains and peaks. The valley was full of all sorts of flowers, aromas and colors. Gushing and fuming fountains sprinkled water which mixing with rays of the sun cast rainbows all across the valley. The torrents, emanating from long, long, glaciers, thudded, striking with the rocky bank, producing a sound similar to that of the bass drum in an orchestra. The lofty peaks, with pointed tops, seemed to be piercing into the chest of the thick, blue, sky. The kids had been told by the old ladies of the valley that fairies danced at the point where the peaks met the sky. They did not, however, know who the fairies danced for at such heights! “Not, at least, for the human-like animals,” said the grandmas, “they must be dancing for someone great, someone God -like,, they would whisper, excitingly as if the God-like thing that witnessed the fairies dancing on the top of the peaks would come and return them the youth they craved for.Such was the romance, the pleasure, the imaginative power and the comfort that came from being in the valley. Impressed by its unmatched grandeur, many referred to it as the Shangri La, heaven on the earth. And it looked like a paradise at least through the lens of cameras and the eye-on-the-face.The valley was thronged by visitors of all races, languages and nations during different seasons. During the harsh winters birds from the Siberia came, looking for relatively ‘warm’ lakes. Everyone saw these birds as they flew across the sky in amazing ‘formations’, to use a military term. Only the hunters saw the Marco polo sheep that crossed the frontiers independently with unparallel agility and master artistry.The Homo sapiens, species of a higher kind, visited during spring and summer. They liked the pinkish colors of the valley while flowers sprouted on the Apricot trees, heralding arrival of the spring. They came with huge, long, nice-looking cameras and shot the mountains, the flowers, the skies, the valleys, the leaves, the ‘cherubic’ kids, the ‘graceful’ elders and the ‘apple like’ faces of boys, girls, men and women. Autumn made the valley like a medieval painting, yellowish and gloomy. The winters were severely harsh. The mountains became lifeless, the soil got dead, the torrents froze, the lakes froze, the rivers froze and the people stayed behind their doors, while the winds roared, breaking trees, toppling stone walls, and flying tones of sand across the once beautiful valley. True, the apple – like cheeks of the girls and women reddened even more during this season, but tears also rolled down the cheeks, involuntarily, as if protesting against the harsh weather.There were other reasons, apart from the cold winter that brought down tears from all eyes. The valley was, ‘gradually’, losing its charm, said the elders sighing in pain. The human-likes living in the valley, of which the elders were a part, had been witnessing a shift in the mood of the winds and that the folk tales say wasn’t a good omen. Ever since the Homo sapiens had arrived in the valley, wearing funny caps, walking half naked, speaking funny languages and some carrying horrific guns, the valley had changed, for sure.The inhabitants of the valley felt that the power of guns had subdued them. The outsiders had gradually controlled the valley. Not only had they controlled the valley they also treated the locals as if they did not exist. The locals, under the wide open skies, would sit down and reflect, whisper, looking at their faces in the mirror – like waters of the small and large lakes while the moon was full, asking themselves if they were any different from the outsiders who called themselves Homo sapiens.They couldn’t find anything different, the eyes were the same, even better, the noses, the ears, the face, the shoulders, the feet, the forehead, the mouth, the lips, everything, they compared and could not find anything different. Some even had heard the outsiders marveling beauty of the local men and women. The locals, led by their chiefs, could not remain silent. They started questioning the power of gun. It wasn’t that easy. Many people died. Hundreds, in fact, but the outsiders were chased out of the valley by the brave locals, with stones, sticks and rifles – snatched from the enemy. Those who fought, for almost a year, say that they fought not with material things but with the passion and belief in making the locals feel independent, yet again.When the outsiders had been beaten and chased out of the frontiers of the valley, ‘brothers’ from another valley were called for help. The old people thought that such help would make the valley stronger, prosperous and peaceful. The locals accepted this happily, because they thought that brothers from the other valley, who had also chased their enemies out recently, read the same divine book, believed in the same heavenly prophet and accepted the supremacy of the one God, they worshiped. It all seemed good, then.Now, six decades down the road, the valley has deteriorated. The brothers from the neighboring valley, after they got control of the valley, could not look after it properly. The gardens started withering, the fountains dried, the colors lost their charm and the locals started fighting each other, helped by the brothers from the neighboring valley. The locals fight but the brothers from the other valley, despite of having all the guns, don’t stop the fight. Many say that they are the ones who start these fights. Every now and then huge fires erupt across the valley, destroying love, independence and peace.The fight is going on, increasingly getting visible and violent. Now many locals want to fight the brothers from the neighboring valley, because they don’t find a lot of difference between the other outsiders who had come in yonder years, wearing funny caps, speaking funny languages and walking half naked, many of them carrying horrific guns and the brothers from the other valley. The springs come and paint the valley pink, but the vibes of happiness and charm emanating from the Apricot trees has dwindled, awfully. Even the butterflies don’t tread into the valley, now. It seems as if the valley is only wearing a colorful mask but the soil is not happy, dancing and enjoying the season.The flowers are there, the colors are there, the aroma is there but the charm is not. It doesn’t look like the old Shangri La that people talked about so excitingly. In this ‘Shangri La’, the flowers bleed, the colors scream and the fragrance weeps, lamenting the curse of injustice and the absence of love.
$30 million for Chitralpower project
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) on Tuesday signed two agreements of $ 15 million each for the Golan Gol Hydropower Project in Chitral. The agreements were signed in Vienna by Shahbaz, Ambassador of Pakistan to Austria, and Suleiman J. Al Herbish, Director General of the OFID, on behalf of government of Pakistan and OPEC Fund respectively, said a press release received here on Tuesday. The project, involving US$ 30 million co financing from the OFID, is located on the Golan Gol River, a left bank tributary of the Mastuj River. The powerhouse of the project is located in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) along Chitral Bunni Road at a distance of about 25 kilometers from Chitral. The Project has an installed capacity of 106 MW (annual energy production : 436 million KWH). Work on the Project is already underway and the OPEC Fund’s financial assistance will be utilised in procurement, installation and testing of transmission line and Grid Stations Extension. Speaking on the occasion, the Director General OFID Suleiman J. Al Herbish recalled that OFID Pakistan cooperation spanned over more than 30 years now. He expressed the Fund’s continuing commitment to this cooperation in the coming years. Referring to the global financial turmoil, he stressed that OFID’s decision to sign two loan agreements with Pakistan during these times showed the trust which the Fund had in the resilience of the economy of the country. In his remarks, Ambassador Shahbaz thanked the Director General for OFID’s financial support for a number of projects in Pakistan. Regarding the Golan Gol Hydropower Project, he underlined its particular importance for Pakistan at a time when the country was faced with imbalance between energy demand and its production capability. He expressed the hope that the cooperative relationship between Pakistan and the Fund will grow further. The OFID has been co financing, both the public and the private sector, projects in Pakistan. Fifteen of these projects have already been completed. After the signing of today’s loan agreements, the Fund’s total financial assistance to Pakistan will rise to about US$300 million. Pakistan and the Fund also have an Encouragement and Protection of Investment Agreement which was signed in February 2001. OFID has also been extending humanitarian assistance to Pakistan at the time of natural disasters as it assisted during the floods in 2007 and disastrous earthquake in 2005.
By Andleeb Abbas
IN these inflationary times, what is the least valuable item available? Sad but true, it is the life of the ordinary man.The public massacre going on not only in the northern areas but in cities as well epitomises the degradation of all human values. This is the clash of insanity between the so-called developed intellectuals of the world, be it the American think tanks or the Pakistani decision-makers, and the brainwashed illiterate cult which believes that blowing away people will deter their opponents.With no consideration to human values, and no regard to consequences, an unending vicious cycle of crime without punishment has engulfed the country. The blazing inferno at the Marriott symbolised the ruthless designs of these minds on both sides, and the ashes of a once-magnificent hotel epitomises the gloom and doom of the public at the mercy of these mercenaries.The question remains, what are the objectives of this war on terror which increasingly looks like a war ‘for’ terror? Let us have a look at what this pursuit of revenge has done to the world in general and Pakistan in particular.Weak leaders are weak decision-makers. The strength of leadership is tested at times of crisis. 9/11 exposed the weaknesses of many a leader in the world. Mr Bush, always struggling to make a credible and competent mark on the home-management front, lapped on this opportunity to show the world that America is a force to be reckoned with; his targets as usual were the weakest countries possible, Afghanistan and later Iraq. His limited vision made him believe that in a short time he will take over these countries, plant his stooges to run the show and have unlimited access to their oil reserves to bolster the American economy. That was not to be; thus he has spotted another weaker country, Pakistan, to divert attention from the total mismanagement of the American economy.Similarly 9/11 gave Gen Musharraf the opportunity to justify and strengthen his leadership. With America’s backing he felt that his illegal existence will be legalised; and for a time period that is what happened. America, sensing Musharraf’s need to establish himself, pushed him in a corner and covertly, later overtly, ransacked Pakistan as the perfect excuse to infiltrate Afghanistan. The general, of course, compromised to save his skin.Again, in doing so have these leaders emerged as winners? On the contrary it has been a lose-lose game for them. Both Musharraf and Bush have made themselves and their nations objects of aversion and derision with their economies in shambles and security in tatters.History repeats itself. Nowhere have we seen evidence of this more than in Pakistan. Having got rid of the dictator and having given the democratically elected leaders another chance to change course, the hopes of the nation to find strong and courageous leadership have been dashed.The president and prime minister have shown their subjugation to American designs; even while the two men are saying that they will not let Americans encroach on our territory, the Americans are pounding our northern areas. Again, due to weak leadership, with a lot to cover up in their past, they neither have the courage nor the skill to face American pressure – a fact the prime minister has openly owned up to in one of his statements. With no clear strategy to save the country, it is a hit-and-run approach where the president is running all over the world to avoid being at home while leaving the country vulnerable to attack.The worth of a life is based on the position you carry. While the priority of any government ought to be to provide security to the public, it seems that the priority of our government is to secure their own positions and lives – and too bad if the public is hit in attacks against its leaders. The higher position you carry the more precious your life is. The interior adviser proudly claimed they had intelligence reports that the Marriott was going to be attacked and thus moved the prime minister’s iftar to another location. They should be taken to task for not sharing this intelligence with the hotel authorities, who could have protected their guests and employees.Insecure men breed insecurity around them. Most of the decision-makers in the US and in Pakistan are insecure due to their own inability to rule on merit. When one is not confident about one’s ability to traverse difficult terrain to reach the destination, one looks for short cuts and deviations from the right track to somehow bypass principles and laws to find quick-fix solutions. However, short cuts lead to short-term solutions which give way to even more chronic problems. This is why the war on terror is becoming a monster out of control.Conflict, aggression, suppression and subjugation will never produce sustainable peace and security. It has been proven that only by practising values of tolerance, justice and humility have people overcome the biggest hurdles in life and produced sustainable results. It is the likes of Mandela and Martin Luther King who practised these values to bring revolutions in difficult conditions.
Herbals heal poverty
By Tika Khan
By virtue of its geographical settings, Northern Areas are of great importance, not only because of its strategic position but also of its unique geology and richness in natural resources. Most important strategic links between big economic and wealthy oil reservoirs of the world pass through its topography. Besides emerging and the former super powers in its immediate surrounding, this is the only piece of land on earth which is bordered by four countries with atomic power. However, existence of atomic powers in its neighborhood does not ensure its security, peace and economic prosperity. Economic and wellbeing of the area subsists in exploration and sustained utilization of its own natural and human capital in the years ahead.Northern Areas besides providing immense geological interest and rich cultural heritage provides a great opportunity for those who are interested in biological sciences to interact with a fascinating world of wild and domesticated flora and fauna. Though the wild and connubial life is sparsely inhabited but it illustrates a complex taxonomic diversity. Exponentially expanding human population, commercialization and globalization of the area has led wildlife (both plants and animals) to face threat to their existence. Over- grazing and habitat loss are common phenomenon in the area. However, elevated pastures of mighty Himalaya, Karakuram, Hindukush and Pamir mountain ranges offer a vast variation in climatic and landscape characteristics to nurture and nourish unique species of flora and fauna which in itself is a great source of livelihood and wellbeing for local populations.Hardly four decades back, people in the area were unaware of English medicines and were dependent only on herbal and other indigenous products for health cure and hygiene. Pure food and use of simple herbal medicines were the reasons behind the mystery of longevity and good health. It is, therefore, history of herbal medication in Northern Areas is not unique to the outside world, yet in some cases, it is distinctive, indeed few plants and animal species are very specific and exclusively indigenous to the area. China, India, Germany and several other countries fulfill their medicinal requirement to a great extent from herbal medicines. Similarly, these countries supplement their GDP with ample revenues generated from export of herbal products.Although Pakistan spends huge amounts in importing English medicines, even then public hospitals remain void of medicines and poor people could not access the required medicines and physicians. Very fortunately, the countryside still produces wonderful herbs in abundance and if encouraged and facilitated the locale it is quite possible to develop and establish herbal gardens over the extent of the region. Environment of this region is highly favorable for the growth of a variety of rare herbal species and no longer, Northern Areas can become ‘herbal center’. Traditional knowledge on herbal (ethnobotany) in northern areas has already been eroded by the rampant globalization, whereas several nations have commercialized it on scientific basis are proud of their heritage.Government and non-government agencies are suggested to review on the possibilities to promote herbalism and herbal marketing on scientific basis to address local and outside demand for herbal medicine.However, it is highly recommended to initiate and establish ‘department of herbal promotion and medicine’ at Karakuram International University to impact poverty and health issues across northern areas amicably. This opportunity could engage thousands of poor families to grow highly valuable herbals in their gardens and fields enabling smart recoveries to feed themselves beyond a subsistence level. Value addition can help further local communities to create healthy employment opportunities, which in fact, at a larger scale can contribute vigorously into the regional and national revenues.