CE’s diatribe on Diamer Dam
THE strong reaction to the NWFP’s claim of royalty on the Diamer-Basha Dam and its bids to make the site disputed can be interpreted differently by different sections of society. However, we believe that such a reaction was long overdue not only from the office of the chief executive but also by the 36-member legislative assembly. Keeping in view Mr Ghazanfar’s past record of issuing such statements, no one can take the latest diatribe seriously, because since taking over as even deputy chief he has been issuing such statements repeatedly. Mr Ghazanfar is also accustomed of issuing warnings like once he threatened to resign if he was not provided with a big car, another time on non-provision of an official residence and then against lack of powers. But Islamabad often ignores his threats and statements – let alone accept his demands. Moreover, he is also accustomed of forgetting his own demands quickly and living happily with whatever facilities and perks he is provided with. Even more strong threats have been coming from adviser health Haji Abdul Quddus in whose constituency the site of the Diamer Dam falls. He had been the vocal opponent of the Diamer Dam project right from day one but when former President Pervez Musaharraf came to inaugurate work on the site people in Gilgit-Baltistan and even around the world saw on their TV screens the same Haji Quddus chanting “Long live Musharraf” slogans.Under such circumstances, how the people of Gigit-Baltistan will believe the threats being issued by Mr Ghazanfar and the likes?The Diamer-Basha Dam can be a blessing for Pakistan but it will be nothing but a source of destruction for the people of Gilgit-Baltsitan, especially in Diamer district. And therefore, the educated section of Gilgit-Baltistan can take such statements of the chief executive as a ‘humorous poetry’. Mr Ghzanfar is right, however, that the situation is changing fast in the region. This we have been stating in these columns long ago but then these so-called leaders were deep asleep. It would have been better had the chief executive convened a session of the assembly and after taking the members into confidence come out with a resolution conveying the reservations of the people in a strongest terms to Pakistan and tendering en masse resignation in case the demands were not met by Islamabad. In this way, not only an acceptable solution could have been made to the issue but also the shortcomings of the four-year performance of the representatives would have been compensated for.Instead of expressing his reservations, Mr Ghazanfar should have also gone to Mirpur once and meet the affected people of the Mangla Dam Raising project who have been running from pillar to post to get their rights.Our leaders especially those from the Diamer area never get tired giving the examples of the affected people of Mirpur and saying that they have been shifted to England where they are earning Sterling Pounds. But they should understand that the locals of Mirpur were not sent to England by the government but the British executing company was in search of cheap labour force.This is time we should stand up to oppose the government plan otherwise after Haji Quddus’s constituency, the Skardu dam will be built in Wazir Willayat’s area, Hinzal dam in Himayatullah’s area and Hamuchal dam will be constructed in Sultan Madad’s constituency to provide water and electricity to Punjab.We believe that only issuing statements will not suffice rather our leaders and elected representatives have to adopt joint measures against this illegal and anti-Gilgit-Baltistan project and to stop for ever double standards and duplicity of the rulers.Time will prove how far Mr Ghazanfar remains sincere in implementing his stance on the issue and protecting the region from submersion and other effects of the dam.One of the reasons for the over 61-year-long slavery of Gilgit-Baltistan is that our leader shave failed to highlight our issues on time. It is the responsibility of people from all political parties, social organizations and other walks of life to play their role in this issue practically to protect the rights of the region.
CE opposes Diamer Dam, seeks removalof reservations
By Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Chief Executive Northern Areas Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan has warned that the construction of the multi-billion dollars Diamer-Basha Dam will not be allowed until the reservations of the local people particularly those in Diamer district are removed to their full satisfaction.Reacting to the statement of the NWFP representative at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), that approved the construction of the project on Tuesday, Mr Ghzanfar said the dam would submerge a vast area of Diamer district deprived them of their only source of income, agriculture and displace a large number of people.Despite all these effects on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, when it comes to royalty the NWFP is eying all the future benefits and privileges. This is not acceptable to us and we will resist it, he warned.He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had rendered numerous sacrifices for the country but they were denied their rights only because they did not spoke up. “Now the situation has changed and we will not remain silent and never allow anyone to loot our resources and deprive us of all genuine rights,” he added. He said until and unless the issues of royalty and compensation were resolved we will not allow anyone to even touch a stone in our area. He said the area where the dam was to be built has deliberately been made disputed, adding we will foil all such conspiracies and protect our rights. He warned the NWFP representative to stop making such claims. Mr Ghazanfar said as the chairman of the Diamer Dam Committee, it was his responsibility to safeguard the rights of the affected people of the Diamer and ensure payment of compensation and royalty to them.The chief executive recommended handing over of the second phase of the Karakoram Highway expansion project to China and said it was a very difficult task and only the Chinese expert can undertake it.He also spoke on the lack of facilities at the Karakoram International University including absence of library and hostel facilities and said until resources were made available the standard of education cannot be improved. He said on the one hand there were talks of giving industry status to tourism sector but on the other no initiatives were being taken to provide facilities to tourists.He said unfortunately we have also been deprived of our identity and the area has been named Northern Areas due to which our economy is being destroyed. Bomb blasts and suicide attacks are carried out in Swat and the tribal areas but due to confusion in the name of Gilgit-Baltistan the image of the area is being tarnished and tourists are running away in fear. He demanded that the region should not be called northern areas and should be named as Gilgit-Baltsitan at the official level.
Hurdles created for rally slammed
GILGIT: Criticizing the stopping of people from coming to attend a public meeting organized by the Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance in connection with the Independence Day in Gilgit, the Balawaristan National Front (BNF) has termed the move a sign of frustration on part of the government.In a statement, the BNF said car rallies taken out by nationalist parties from Chilas were stopped at Jaglot, from Ghizer at Shirot and from Hunza-Nagar at Rojglot. It said holding and attending a public meeting was the basic rights of the people and to stop the participants from attending such meeting was a violation of human rights. It said the move showed that the rulers were frustrated with the rising popularity of the nationalist parties in the region.Meanwhile, Chairman All Parties National Alliance (APNA) and Karakoram National Movement chief Mohammad Iqbal Advocate has said the bureaucracy has once again proved that it treated the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as it slaves. In a statement, he said by stopping the rallies of our party activists at Hunza, Nagar and Skardu the government has unmasked itself.He said despite government’s obstacles, thousands of people attended the Garhi Bagh public gathering, proving the victory of the right and defeat of the evil.He said time has proved that the nation is with the nationalist parties and very soon the masses would rid of the rulers. Whatever conspiracies are hatched by the rulers and their cohorts, they cannot stop us from achieving our objectives, he added.He said the time has gone when the rulers enslaved the masses by using force. He warned the government to stop using such tactics otherwise his party would devise its own strategy to meet the challenge.
Rising popularity of BNSO in Hazara division hailed
By Our Correspondent
ABBTOABAD: Chief Organizer of Balawaristan National Students Organization, Hazara division, Ali Ghulam has said the very reason behind the establishment of the party was to assist its mother party on the national front. He said BNSO had played a pivotal role in uniting students of Gilgit-Baltistan on one platform since the day of its establishment. Talking to Bang-e-Sahar, he said the party had arranged a number of seminars and other programs to boost the collective national understanding of students of Gilgit-Baltistan. He urged the students not to waste their time in politics of district and tehsil levels and instead come forward to join hands with BNSO for a national cause. The popularity and positive response that the party was gaining in Hazara division is a positive sign, he said. He strongly criticized the government’s policies in the educational sector and said it was meant just to close the doors of education on the students of Gilgit- Baltistan even in the twenty-first century. He said due to lack of academic facilities in Gilgit-Baltistan, thousands of students were forced to migrate towards various cities resulting in transfer of millions of rupees from the region.In reply to a question regarding the Karakurum International University, he said it was a mistake to even call it a university because facilities in the university were even not equal to that of a postgraduate college. He said when we look into the pages of history we come to know that in order to stretch the time period of its occupation the occupiers always shut down the doors of education on the youth of the land and the same old story is being repeated in Gilgit-Baltistan.He demanded the government to establish campuses of the Karakurum International University in all the seventh districts of the region and set up research centers for the study of local languages. He said if the provincial languages of the country are taught in the respective universities then what’s wrong with teaching Shina, Khowar, Balti, Burushaski and Wakhi at the KIU.He further said our nation was well aware today and the students were playing an active role in every respect especially on the national front. BNSO will continue its struggle till the very end of the national question and we are very much hopeful that victory will finally be ours with the grace of God, he added.
GB to fight boundary case with NWFP
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The local administration of Gilgit-Baltistan has prepared a team to fight the case of boundary with the NWFP before the construction of the Diamer-Basha dam.The government of NWFP claims that part of the site where the mega dam will be built falls in its jurisdiction and therefore it would have the right to get royalty of the reservoir. However, people of Gilgit-Baltistan say the dam is being constructed wholly in the Diamer district and they will not allow anyone to snatch the right of royalty and compensation from them.Gilgit-Baltistan home secretary Mohammad Usman told reporters at Gilgit that relevant record of the land at the site had been obtained to pursue the case. He said a committee comprising lawyers, senior officials and politicians would also be involved in the litigation process. The official said the government has also decided to establish a Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) to oversee the affairs of the dam to ensure coordinated work on the project.He said the main purpose of establishing the PMU was to assist Water and Power Development Authority and the local administration to help the affected people in addressing their reservations.
Chinese workers security200 policemen on strike
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: About 200 policemen performing duties as guards with the Chinese nationals working in the Karakoram Highway expansion project have gone on a strike against non-payment of daily allowance.The policemen deployed at Hunza-Nagar and Gojal areas refused to perform security duties after failing to get their allowances.This created problems for the Chinese workers and engineers and they could not leave their camps for work due to absence of security cover, affecting work on the project.The policemen said they have been performing the security duties since July, sometimes for 24 hours daily, but the authorities concerned have neither paid them Rs300 duty allowance nor provided them any other benefits.After the policemen started the strike, inspector of police Northern Areas Khursheed Alam Khan has sent a DSP to the area to hold talks with the protesting policemen and bring them back to work.
SDC officials visit projects inHunza, Baltistan
By Our Correspondent
HUNZA-NAGAR: Three officials of Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) visited different projects funded by the SDC in Hunza and Baltistan the other day.Christoph Graph, head of Asia-Pacific; Pius Rohner, country director, Pakistan; and Kanwal Bokharey, Programme Officer of the Agency for Development and Co-operation visited the projects run by Karakoram Area Development Organisation (KADO) and Baltistan Cultural Forum (BCF). The purpose of the visit was to evaluate the impact and results of Agency for Development and Co-operation assistance in Gilgit-Baltistan The KADO-run projects in Hunza are Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), Gems Cutting and Polishing Centre, women-owned handicraft companies and rehabilitation centres. The Swiss officials also held meetings with women artisans in order to find out ways to sustain and increase the impact and scope of the handicraft companies. The Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation officials expressed their satisfaction over the investments of the agency in different development projects. ‘‘The evolution of Karakoram Area Development Organisation from a small handicraft promotional society to a regional development organization is the best model of indigenous organisational development, which gives great satisfaction to the SDC and Swiss taxpayers’’, they remarked.—Dawn
Khowar-Urdu dictionary launched
Chitral: Speakers at a ceremony held here on Sunday said that Khowar (Chitrali) language and literature could be ranked with other languages of the country because of its rich and varied vocabulary.The ceremony was held to launch the first-ever Khowar-Urdu dictionary. The speakers said that the compilation and publication of the Khowar dictionary was a landmark achievement.Those who addressed the ceremony included compiler of the dictionary Naji Khan Naji, former MPA Maulana Jahangir Khan, tehsil nazim Sartaj Ahmed Khan, president of Anjuman Taraqi-i-Khowar M Yousuf Shahazad, intellectuals Mukarram Shah, Moula Nigah and others. They said that the dictionary contained more than 16,000 words and phrases of Khowar language which had been rendered into the national language. They said that serious efforts by the writers and poets of Khowar were afoot to bring the language at par with the other languages of the country. The speakers said that the number of publications on Khowar prose and poetry had reached 500 which showed steady progress and advancement of the language. They said that diversity of the subjects used in the language was enough to testify the approach of the Khowar writers.They said though a good number of words had been replaced by other languages but the dictionary still preserved the essence of the Khowar language.—Courtesy Dawn
NA Scouts to have new wing
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Interior Rehman Malik here on Monday said a new wing of the Northern Areas Scouts would be raised soon. Speaking at the passing-out parade of the 6th batch of the Scouts at Bunji here, he said the force would enjoy all allowances and privileges at par with the Pakistan Army.He praised the sprit and performance of the Northern Areas Scouts and said the government would equip it on modern lines and impart comprehensive training to its personnel. He announced that 100 personnel of the Scouts would be attached with the anti-terrorism wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).Later, talking to local media persons, he said adequate arrangements had been made for the security of Chinese workers engaged with the expansion of the Karakoram Highway. At present, 600 security personnel are deputed on this duty while the Northern Areas police chief has been directed to submit a PC-1 for recruitment of 5,000 more personnel for this purpose, he added. He said the raising of the new wing would help reduce unemployment in the region.In reply to a question, he expressed the hope that the new US administration would respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and stop drone attacks on its territory.Referring to the forex scandal, Mr Malik said the FIA had done a wonderful job and arrested some of the accused while others would be nabbed soon.He appealed to the Pakistani community abroad to send their remittances through banks as this was the safest and quickest way.Director General Northern Areas Scouts Brigadier Syed Azmat Ali also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the history of the force.
KNM, KSO celebrate Independence Day
By Our Correspondent
KARACHI: The 61st Independence Day of Gilglt-Baltistan was celebrated in Karachi in which thousands of students and people belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan participated. The programmed was organized by Karakurum National Movement in collaboration with its students wing, the KSO (Karakurum Students Organization). A thirty pound cake was cut while participants also presented the traditional dance and local music on the occasion. The program was presided over by provincial president of KNM Mohammad Yousuf Qureshi. Addressing the participants, he congratulated the nation on the eve of the Independence Day and paid tributes to the heroes and martyrs of the war of independence. He strongly condemned the establishment for keeping the nation in chains for sixty-one years and capturing the resources of the region illegally. He said the illegal occupation of civil and military bureaucracy will come to an end and that moment is not far away when we will get the result of the struggles of our martyrs and fighters.Party’s former president Mohammad Karim also paid tributes to the heroes of war of independence and said the people of the region will soon get freedom from the illegal occupation of the civil and military occupation.
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA) has warned the so-called politicians who are out to secure government employments for themselves not to play with the sentiments of the masses by hoodwinking them on different slogans.In a statement issued here, the GBDA said these elements hoodwinked the people on the slogan of making the region a separate province and now they have started crying for an Azad Kashmir-type of setup for Gilgit-Baltsitan.The Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance said it had forewarned the people about twenty years back that Gilgit-Baltistan was a disputed region and neither Pakistan could make it its part before nor can it do so in the future.It said the new generation of university and college graduates had rejected the self-made political leaders of the region who kept the people deprived of their basic rights for their own vested interests for the last over six decades.It said those who accused the nationalist parties of taking economic assistance from outsiders were out to sell the region in return for a few lowly employments. It said the new generation would not succumb to the tricks of the elements and would join hands with the GBDA in its struggle for attaining all the basic rights of the people of this strategic region.
The identity problem of Bloristan
By Tahir Jan Hunzai
Over the course of last one and a half centuries, the Balor nation has been deprived not only of its self-determination and freedom but also its r national identity. Especially after 1947, when the parasite of civil and military bureaucracy dipped its roots in the region it tried their utmost to dismantle the national cause of the people of Baler and for this purpose they used the tool of dismantling the national identity of the people. The plan was to make the people of the region like a patient of Alzheimer’s regarding their national identity. The people of the region proved to be an obedient flock of sheep and they are turning directions happily as ordered by their masters. When the region was called Gilgit agency, the mass happily accepted it and when it was changed for God knows what reason to Northern Areas this name too was warmly welcomed by the local population. One wonders why the highway linking Pakistan to China was named Karakorum Highway? If there was no harm in naming the road as Karakurum then what harm was there in naming the whole region as Karakurum? The answer is too simple as the question itself. If the region as a whole were named Karakurum the people would have easily come under one umbrella and struggled for their national cause and it was not in the benefit of the plutocracy. Whatever has happened has happened, but what should be done in future to free the Baler nation from the trap of civil and military plutocracy? Should we sit as we have in the past and wait for a miracle to happen? Or should we take a pragmatic step no matter how small towards a collective national goal which may seem a wild dream at the present. A small group of Baler nation, whish is largely illiterate and devoid of any political awakening is of the view that ‘rights’ would some day be granted to the people of Balor and that the sole solution is just to wait for the time but this group is as being stated in the prior lines, devoid of political awakening and don’t know the very history of the Balor nation and of that of Pakistan’s ruling class.Of the Pakistani ruling class it is well said that they will dissolve the whole country along with their assemblies if there is any benefit for them as happened in the former West Pakistan’s case. When the ruling Bengalis turned against the class system, they were termed “anti-state elements” and brutally crashed; as a result the larger half of the country broke away and emerged as a new country called Bangladesh. Till the present the class or feudal system is haunting the country as a parasite.To divert the mass’ and media’s attention from such problems, the game of bloodshed is being played in Afghanistan and Kashmir despite concentrating on the vanishing economy and deterring social problems. The best solution for peace in the region is that the feudal system be eliminated, plans chalked out for development of industrial and economic sector and a pragmatic approach adopted in the educational sector. But none of this is given a second look as these go against the benefits of the country’s ruling class. The reason for elaborating Pakistan’s issues is to remind the Baler nation that getting rights from the Pakistani ruling class is not a kid’s play. This needs a planned and well-devised national movement after which a pragmatic approach is indispensable.It should be kept in mind that Balor nation has lost its powers during the last one and a half centuries and this is a long time. To take a nation on a road after so long a period is a difficult task and tremendous effort is needed to eliminate the linguistic, colonial and sectarian differences. When Baloristan is mentioned the people generally disagree by saying that it is a term of the Balti language but there is no third option as so many people have so much disagreements. In my personal view the name Baloristan is most suitable because it represents our history and it is up to the people either to like or dislike their own history but truth can never be denied despite personal likings and dislikes. Today similar nations are dwelling around us and if today they demand a change in their name they will for sure have to face a fatal result like us. The meaning of Afghanistan is still a dispute and a mystery to some extent but they have agreed over the name of the country and no nation has any reservations regarding it. If the Pukhtuns. Tajiks, Azbuks, Turkamans, Hazaras and Balochs disagree over the name Afghanistan, they first will disintegrate into small states based on their race and latterly the whole country will collapse a tip of which is experienced today. Another example is that of Kashmir, the word Kashmir is a Hindu language word and if today the Muslim population questions the name that it is a Hindu name than it will be impossible for them to retain their identity. German, French and Italian languages are spoken in Swetzerland and when asked about their nationality the answer would be ‘Swis’, they would never say either Italian or French or German and if the word Swiss is eliminated it will abolish the Swiss nationality along with itself. The current scenario, of ours, resembles with the examples mentioned in the above lines and we too need a solution like that of the nations explained.If we were having a single language in the region the population would have easily come under the umbrella on linguistic basis and in the past such states have existed. Why shouldn’t we feel proud of our history like that of Swiss and Afghan instead extracting out negative points and weaknesses from the states of the past. It is time to rethink over the issue otherwise the land of Baler will be divided among Kashmir, Punjab and NWFP and we will vanish in history. It’s the moral and social responsibility of the thinkers and other educated people of Baloristan to teach the mass and prepare them to struggle under a single umbrella of Baloristan.
A road to the resolution
By Mumtaz Khan
After six decades of closure of its traditional trade and cultural routes, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a breakthrough when a truck service was launched between its two estranged parts. Though symbolic, these developments are important in unfolding a new relationship between the two parts.Under the present emotional situation, observers pay less attention to other factors that will take different shape as trade and economic relations will grow over the period of time if the process sustained. The future relations will be shaped by other factors at work in different regions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, not by emotion and slogans but those that matter economically and politically. By suggesting this, I didn’t mean to undermine the significance of the need to promote present CBMs rather bring up the issues of real-politik that at present is being underestimated. In real-politik, nationalism sometimes is accompanied by emotional approaches and brings disappointment when economic and political interests of different regions and forces diverge.The present sentimental situation largely blurs the political vision of many observers who are closely watching, observing and writing on these relations. Whereas policy makers in New Delhi and Islamabad are reluctantly making decisions and nervously watching developments, lest the situation play out in the favor of the other that restricts their ability to look beyond their traditional approaches.Apparently every side claims to be willing to go to any extent to resolve this issue, not of course, by redrawing of borders as India insisted but economically and politically showing enough flexibility for the first time to allow both sides to interact and trade with each other. Present initiatives between the two parts especially the bus and truck service that enabled the people to interact is just the beginning of the recognition of the issue that needs to be encouraged not to oppose on any account in order to allow both countries to think out of the box.Opposition to such Kashmir centric CBMs whether coming from the militants or pro-militants leaders expose their unscrupulous politics they have been promoting. The problem is not as simple as some forces try to simplify it by making calls for immediate solution.This clear shift from the traditional approaches whether by India or Pakistan is encouraging that might help them think along the new lines and accept the new realities that have evolved in the last few decades. The two sides would be faced with new realities and grievances once emotional honeymoon period is over in Kashmir.One has to understand the issues of real politik and needn’t to be enthused or defused by the approaches taken by either government on Kashmir in the past or present. Pakistan overemphasis on Kashmir and India’s reluctance on Kashmir isn’t emanating out of the love or hate but politics of necessity largely domestically shape both views than the love for Kashmir in Islamabad or New Delhi.The two countries’ policy represents those two positions and mindsets that are deeply entrenched into Islamabad and New Delhi since 1947. Both countries’ polices are yet imprisoned of the past based on their claims on whole of Kashmir that bore no fruit to the Kashmiri, neither India or Pakistan, and knowingly neither side would be able to implement its agenda.But failing to reconcile with the facts and relying on the flawed policies forced both the countries to promote failed politics that created political discontentment and disappointment on both sides of Kashmir.But Islamabad’s enthusiasm about Kashmir emanates from two of its misconceptions. First by raising Kashmir issue, Islamabad never means the whole state of Kashmir but only the ‘‘valley or Indian-administered Kashmir’’ that it believes is disputed.Since politics in the Pakistan-controlled parts of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan bars those political parties from participating in elections that contest the constitutional clause seeking endorsement from candidates to be eligible in the elections to endorse “state’s accession with Pakistan. Second Pakistan tried to seek moral ascendancy by repeatedly calling for UN resolutions first, and later referred militancy as to challenge Indian control and justify its claims.But Islamabad politics of Kashmir and policy began falling apart soon after the militancy that eventually fired back and its reluctance from rolling it back finally resulted into the present extremist and terrorist challenges now Pakistan is facing on its western border owing to the similar reasons for not willing to give up these Jihadis completely.There is likelihood that if Islamabad refrained from dismantling this infrastructure in Kashmir sector, such violence may spread on the eastern border when these disgruntled elements find themselves abandoned and unemployed.While Pakistan failed to recognize that the problem of Kashmir is beyond the “valley” that includes Gilgit-Baltistan and its moral ascendancy may come to the question once trade and other interaction among the three regions may increase and give them true picture of developments of all sides. This grim reality that exists on Pakistan side of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan makes Islamabad nervous and reluctant to include Gilgit-Baltsitan in the present CBMs. But the tide will turn as things will unfold in the coming days. Islamabad needs to recognize that the policy it has pursued on Kashmir has backfired on every count from supporting Jihad to the economic crisis to which Pakistan is currently faced with. Areas under its control are equally underdeveloped and underrepresented as compared to the Indian administered Kashmir. The dimensions and dynamics of Kashmir problem has changed in the last couple of decades that brought new economic realities to the fore-front especially since the truck service began.The trucks that left Srinagar were carrying the local products of Kashmir but the trucks that left Muzaffarabad were carrying all products that were imported from Rawalpindi representinmg the stark contrast between the two parts, its development potential and institutional credibility other side of Kashmir that does.The time is to think beyond the traditional slogans and politics in the larger interest of the region that currently facing challenges like growing extremism and terrorism in the region that affect India too, whoever is behind but question is that threat is there, if both countries didn’t give up politics of self-inflicting. The Kashmir0centric CBMs and initiatives can become the gateway for greater regional trade, tourism and cultural exchanges which both the countries including Kashmiri and rest of the region needed badly to overcome the forces of extremism, fundamentalism and communalism.
AKES – what ails you
By Gohar Abbas Gojali
Indeed the Aga Khan Education Service has played a vital role in educational development of Gilgit-Baltistan and the credit of female education goes solely to the AKES. But, unfortunately, this was true for the once upon a time phenomenon or the role played by AKES up to some years back. The AKES of today is entirely different from what it happened to be a decade back and the public opinion about this institution too is changing with the passage of time. Once a symbol of merit and excellence, the AKES of today is full of corruption tales, and misuse of power has become order of the day. The administrative power or the people on the executive posts are no different than the notorious civil plutocracy of Pakistan and misconduct and misguiding of students is just a norm.Students who get scholarships from the organization are the poor souls who suffer at the hands of the employees. This phenomenon is worse for females as there is an army of ill-mannered officials whom these would-be scholars have to face time and again. Scholarship information can better be obtained from the organization’s website or information desk but let me briefly introduce one of the species which haunts females of the region. Named as FMDP (female human development program), this is different from all other scholarships, as it is only granted to females of Gilgit-Baltistan and for this purpose a whole department has been set up in the Gilgit office of the organization. The selection of students for the scholarship is itself an enigma and a process too much tiring and when some miracle happens and a needy student qualifies for the scholarship, her miseries start. It should be noted that this scholarship includes their tuition and boarding charges in case the student resides in hostel which in most cases happens. The amount is transferred to the respective student quarterly which means she has to arrange for her boarding charges for two months as the scholarship will reach quarterly. When the mentioned period passes the poor student prepares for ‘good days’ but those days nevercome and she contacts the organization’s office and the concerned authority and is told to wait a few days and these few days convert to weeks and weeks to months and eventually the academic year ends and the student returns home.If exceptionally any student reminds the concerned authority they take it as a demand and the student is reprimanded.In one such case, when a student reminded the “authorities concerned” they said the organization was not out for charities and that she had made herself an addict of scholarship. Well I am not intellectual enough to explain the difference between a charity and public welfare but one thing I know with authority is that the organization gets millions of dollars for the welfare of poor community of the region besides there are some rules and laws. When you set criteria and assure the qualifiers of assistance, then you are legally bound to do it; besides what you are granting is given to you for that particular purpose.Firstly, I was of the thought that a few “scholarship afectees” are of such opinion but after much soul searching I came to find out an army of such ‘angry youth with the AKES’.
A disappointed welcome
By Tika Khan
Friendship with China is an “all weather and tested one”, “taller than the Everest and deeper than the Arabian Sea”, Pervez Musharaf, the former president, once high sounded during his visit to China. Indeed, it is true and has been proven in all critical circumstances. However, this friendship requires a wider range of cooperation and collaborations extending into all walks of life to maximize its vigor. Bilateral trade, cultural and youth exchange programmes are yet to scale up, are vital and entail due attention and that could help in improving relations at public level.Although the communities living across Pakistan-China boarder at Khunjerab pass have centuries-old family relations; however, repositioning of geo-political boundary between the two countries has separated families of the same tribe and culture. During the time of princely states, rulers from both regions, i.e. Hunza and Xingjian were used to exchange gifts and provide security to their Silk Route traders.Construction of Karakuram Highway-KKH has facilitated trade and communication to a great extent though a lot has to be done. Several obstacles in the way hinder and influence the relations between the friendly countries which require removing and addressing them timely effectively and efficiently. These issues are purely social and ethical in nature and not political. For the last five years, drug trafficking and smuggling of constrained biotic and non-biotic items including firecrackers, birds, liquor, chemicals etc. has increased. Very recently, heroin smuggling has rapidly increased and has been highlighted repeatedly in the newspapers. Local people from Northern Areas and outsiders are equally involved in these criminal activities with a single difference. Local victims are working with criminal gang agents of same locality or vicinity in carriage whereas masterminds behind the game belong to regions outside Northern Areas.A study of the familial and personal background of the victims shows that most of them belong to middle class, somehow facing financial hardships. Majority of the victims known to the locals and their fellow villagers are above the age of 25 and in some cases over 60. The local agents through exploitation of their pecuniary needs trap these local carriage agents (victims) and are given a certain quantity to smuggle into China.Widening and expansion of KKH will enhance communication and trade ties between the two countries, however, evil genius minds will keep an eye on several other means and ways of drug trafficking. These criminals have gained courage due to weak law enforcement and vigilance at the route at both sides of the boarder. Yet, improving alertness with latest equipment and search tools backed by the law enforcing and intelligence agencies will help reducing such criminal attempts. Severe punishments are inevitable supplemented with the education and awareness programmes for the youth, at least most affected communities alongside of the road. Civil society institutions, non-governmental organizations and government line departments should join hands to improve the prevailing situation.Likewise, drug trafficking from this side of the boarder, people from Hunza are upset with the Chinese drivers who sell liquor on the road while passing through till their camps. This has become a serious concern for community elders, public and civil society organizations in the area as youth of age 20 and above are suffering from substance abuse. Local administration and the Chinese law enforcing agencies should look into the matter seriously because this kind of poisoned youth becomes susceptible and more likely to be involved in criminal activities like drug smuggling and several potential threats across the boarder in the years ahead.People in Northern Areas are very happy with the arrival of their Chinese friends and widening work started on the Karakuram Highway but the kinds of activities mentioned above create misunderstandings and relation gaps between the two countries, if not at political level but at least at public level. It is, therefore, suggested to condemn such happenings and involvement sternly on both sides to realize a smooth run of business and friendly relations. ‘‘Long Live Pak-China Friendship’’