BNF slams propaganda against nationalists
BANGKOK (THAILAND): A three-member delegation of the Balawaristan National Front (BNF) from Giligt-Baltistan met the exiled chairman of the BNF, Abdul Hamid Khan, at Bangkok and apprised him of the current political situation in the region. This was for the first time that such a delegation met the chairman since he went into exile to avoid persecution in 1999. The delegation was led by former president of the BNF Safdar Ali and comprised former central general of the party Burhanullah and ex-general secretary BNF Ghizer Qayyum Khan. During the meeting, the BNF chief briefed the delegation about his efforts to highlight the issue of the region in Geneva and Brussels. The meeting also discussed the possibility of the chairman’s return from exile. The chairman of the BNF expressed his desire to return to the country but it was agreed that a final decision would be taken after consulting all friends and party leaders. Mr Abdul Hamid Khan once again made it clear that he was never against the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan but had been working to highlight the issues of Balawaristan (Gilgit-Baltistan), Ladakh, Shenaki Kohistan and Chitral and enable them to live like other nationalities of India and Pakistan with dignity and respect. The BNF leaders in the meeting strongly condemned state-sponsored propaganda against the nationalists of the region, especially the BNF. They also demanded that the injustices and ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the indigenous people of Gilgit-Baltistan should be stopped. They also said that patronage and sponsoring of killers and terrorists should be stopped and the government should bring all such elements to justice and provide safety to the people of the region. They also said that the practice of killing the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan in other parts of the country should be stopped. The BNF leaders also said that the state-sponsored sectarian killing started in 1971 should come to an end and the government should stop the practice of dividing the political, religious and even public sector employees on sectarian lines. The government of Pakistan instead of becoming a part of the internal and external conspiracies should focus on its duty of defending the international borders of the area. The Pakistan government should also stop looking at the people of Gilgit-Baltistan suspiciously and transfer all the powers to the region so that the indigenous people can manage their own affairs in accordance with their aspirations. “The BNF would like to reiterate its stance that it is not against the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan. Pakistan can safeguard its interest by using its army to defend the international borders instead of deploying it among the people.” The leaders said that the BNF supports the dialogue process between India and Pakistan but at the same time it clarified that no decision reached at by the two countries would be acceptable until and unless the opinions of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan was solicited through an internationally-recognized and a transparent process. The BNF leaders also demanded that in order to include the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the peace talk process, the routes between connecting the region with Ladakh and Kashmir should be opened. Besides, they also called upon the government of Pakistan to open the old trade routes between Gilgit-Baltistan and the Central Asian states. They said until the political status of Gilgit-Baltistan is determined under the international law Pakistan should stop implementation of capital punishment in the region. They said that no justice system can work to provide justice if it is established under a package. It would be a slap on the spirit of the justice system. The meeting vowed that the people of the region would continue their struggle until and unless they were given all the powers to manage and run their socio-economic and political affairs on their own. The meeting also opposed and condemned registration of treason cases against the BNF chairman Abdul Hamid Khan and others and said that the practice to prolong the outside rule in the region by implicating the indigenous people in fabricated cases should come to an end. They said that both India and Pakistan should play their democratic roles in ensuring the right of representation to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. The BNF leaders also decided to mobilize the people of the region for expediting the movement to achieve their rights denied to them for the last over six decades.