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Bang-e-sahar Volum-02, Issue-22,23


Need for a new social contract

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
(Editorial)
Need for a new social contract
Gilgit Baltistan has been the epicenter of international conspiracies ever since because of its unique geography. When the pages of history are turned it will become clear that the region has always suffered political, social, religious, historical and geographical changes due to international conspiracies but these changes took place without efforts or will of the local population. The region at times has functioned as a whole state and at times different small states disintegrated from it. The region has come on the world map as Brooshal and Dardistan and at times it has become one grand state known as Bolor while the neighboring states have always had an eye on the region and waited for a proper time to attack.After 1860 the region went under consecutive slaveries and sieges and this process continued for last 140 years. The current era of slavery started after death of the great warrior Gohar Aman and is elongating ever since. Soon after demise of Raja Gohar Aman, political deterioration and disintegration of state started in the region. Maharaja of Kashmir was waiting for a proper time to conquer the region even in the life of Raja Gohar Aman and his demise provided the Maharaja with a golden opportunity to make a distant dream come true and he succeeded in splitting the region into two main ministries. It was during this era that political changes started to take place in Russia and China which created a panic among the imperialists. After 1935 when the west started conspiracies to stop socialism and in order to implement its policies, its eyes rested on Gilgit Baltistan. In the notorious lease pact the people of Gilgit agency too were sold or given at lease along with the land of the region which became known as the ‘great game’ and this conspiracy was referred to by John Key in his book written in 1890. In the early forties when the Second World War when Britain faced tragic defeat and the English finally decided to leave subcontinent. They cloned from the state they ruled a fake and unnatural land in order to create suitable environment for fulfillment of there notorious agendas against socialism but still they saw there efforts failing due to Gilgit agency. The mid 40s was the decade of independence of nations and the people of Gilgit Baltistan too fought for their independence freeing there land from the Maharaja of Kashmir. Understanding nature of the issue English sabotaged their fresh gained independence. The newly born country created from a province was demolished within 16 days by English major and a Pakistani ‘C’ class magistrate. The morning of 16th November brought with it long era of slavery. Today after a lapse of 61 years the slavery is coming to a no end but elongating with the passage of time. Two generations have spent there lives dreaming of independence. After seize fire of 1948 the regions fate was attached with that of Kashmir. United Nations passed a number of resolutions on Kashmir dispute while the governments of Pakistan and India too settled on secret agreements through back door diplomacy but nothing proved fruitful. 15 million people are suffering due to this rivalry of India and Pakistan while both the countries are accusing each other as the route cause of the issue. No one is ready to settle on minus one just for there own ego. If any one looses in this hide and seek game that is population of Kashmir, they are deprived of there basic rights and the people have nothing but to wait for the decision of their fate. After resolution of the United Nations the people of the region were penning hopes with it but the irresponsible attitude of the institution for 61 years has faded away the hopes that people of Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan had penned with. After 2001 the composite dialogues between India and Pakistan had some how reprieved the hope in these people but sad events after 6 years once again drowned the hopes and dreams of these people. Due to attachment of the region with Kashmir dispute nationalists of the region are forced to struggle with Kashmir’s. the progress from local to international level after 2002 has strengthened the hopes of the people at one hand while on the other hand they are expressing there reservations as they fear that after gaining independence they might go into the slavery of Kashmir this time and like wise they might fall to the slavery of Sirinagar. Nationalists have no option but to remain attached with Kashmir according to the resolutions of the United Nations. we are of the view that the right time has came for now that the nationalist movements of Gilgit Baltistan should sign a ‘sociological agreement’ with the Kashmir nationalist movements that can guarantee and safeguard rights of Gilgit Baltistan. It should be made so that after gaining independence the people of the region may get the right to decide there fate as to function as independent state or continue as a confederation with Kashmir state. If the people of Gilgit Baltistan do not feel comfortable in confederation they may have the right to vote in a referendum and get there need. After sociological agreement Kashmir should accept Gilgit Baltistan as an independent state if they vote for an independent state in referendum. Such agreements have remained part of all the independence movements around the globe and it has succeeded always, an example of which is USSR confederation. When the people of Central Asia did not want to go along with USSR they spelt away without any blood shed. So this agreement is necessity of the time so that the people of the region may get answer to the innumerable questions that rise in the minds of the people regarding there future.

Chinese new design to occupy Gilgit Baltistan

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
Chinese new design to occupy Gilgit Baltistan
BNF chief urges world community to take notice
By Our Correspondent
Brussels: Chairman Balawaristan National Front Abdul Hamid Khan has urged upon world community to persuade China not to involve itself in the occupation process of Pakistan by leasing the mountains and by constructing Railways and Dams to change the environment, demography and geography of Gilgit Baltistan. “And process of this occupation is already underway with the huge presence of Chinese national in our Area” he added. Addressing an international conference on cultural heritage of Kashmiri people he extended condolences to the victim’s families of the Mumbai carnage and said it is a fact that the so called democratic government in Pakistan is subservient of the Pakistani Military and is totally unaware of ISI’s covert acts of terror including the recent in Mumbai.He said in former state Jammu and Kashmir, Chitral was part of Maharaja Suzerainty which is now Part of NWFP. He stressed establishment of impartial judiciary in the region and said there was no credible institution in the Area including political system that may assure an independent judiciary which is vital to provide justice and protect the rights and freedoms of the people. “Neither the people have the right to appeal in any Court of Pakistan nor do they have their own High Court and Supreme Court” he added saying in the absence of proper and Impartial Judiciary and Public Representation no question of good governance arises.He said Gilgit Baltistan is ruled by the occupying regime of Pakistan and it’s Military and the people have no Political representation either in Pakistan or in Gilgit Baltistan. Slamming the so-called Northern Areas Legislative Assembly he said it is a mere impotent body that is run and controlled by Pakistan Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas.He said this region is treated as colony of Pakistan even in the 21st Century.Shedding light over the injustice and violation of Fundamental rights in the region he said this is the only part of the world, where 2 million indigenous people including local Police, Judiciary, Administration, Education and all government departments are facing worst kind of annihilation due to the discriminatory policies of successive Pakistani regimes. Criticizing installation of Nuclear weapons at Skardu Airport he said it can be dangerous to the whole area, as there were Terrorist training camps in Ghowadi in Baltistan and other nearest areas like Domail and Minimarg of Astore. He said Pakistan has plan to depute more than 100,000 strong Military besides ISI and other intelligence agencies and terrorists in the Area. “The deputation of this huge Military will be detrimental to the existence of the local indigenous people on one side and to the world peace and stability because of its habit to establish terrorist network on the other” he added. He said there were some evidences of presence of Osama in Chitral and then shifting him to Darel of Gilgit in 2002 is a clear indication that Pakistan uses this disputed land to promote its terrorist agenda against the will of the people.Talking about construction of vrious dams in the region he said The designs of Pakistan to construct huge Dams in Diamar, Skardu, Bunji and Henzel Gilgit by the help of China was just to submerge the vast area and displacing indigenous people and destroying its unique heritage, history, culture and natural atmosphere. He said Bhasha Diamar Dam’s reservoir, located in Diamer, would submerge 110 kilometers with the height of 270 meter of the Karakoram Highway and around 80,000 people would be displaced and about 200KM area up to Gilgit town will be submerged. “This will destroy the oldest Bhudha civilization besides other ancient civilization” he added.Pakistan also have the plan to build dam in Skardu by submerging 300,000 aboriginal population of this disputed area for its own benefits.750 feet high Skardu Dam will submerge not only the whole Skardu city along with its historical and secret religious places and forts but minerals and ancient houses of the whole Baltistan including Kharmang, Shigar, Khapolu, and many places of Rundo will be vanished from the earth forever. Pakistan is also building a 3rd Dam in Bonji on river Indus without consulting of the people, who have no representation anywhere in the world, neither in Pakistan, India nor in the UNO. It will be Great loss to our environment, wild life, minerals and both semi and precious stones worth of billions of Rupees. As far population is concern 80,000 in Population of Diamar Bhasha Dam, 80,000, Skardu dam 200, 000, and about 30,000 in Bunji dam will be displaced, who are in indigenous people of this land. Pakistan is also trying to construct Railway by cutting and destroying the beautiful mountainous with the help of China for their own interest without any legal authority. Talking about the historical background of the region he said China had already occupied Taghdumbash and Raskam areas of Hunza including Azghar, Kuktash, Arsar, Uprang, Uruklu,Aliksu, Tashmani and Aksu, which were part and parcel of Hunza, besides a major part of Shimshal Hunza has been ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963 for the construction of KKH, which is mostly used for the Military purpose between the two countries . Commenting on violation of UN resolutions in Gilgit Baltistan he said in spite of the fact that the region does not fall into the jurisdiction and constitution of Pakistan and its imposed laws, Pakistan has deputed 30000 regular troops, 5000 militia, 5000 members of Intelligence Agencies besides its 40000 armed civilians instead of withdrawing forces and civilians in 12 weeks according to UN Truce Terms of 28th April 1949. He said Gilgit Baltistan is an important area of disputed Jammu & Kashmir because it borders with China, Afghanistan, Central Asia (Tajikistan Uzbekistan), India and Pakistan, whose fate is still to be decided according to the 1948-49 UNCIP resolutions. He said Pakistan is also strengthening its occupation by giving more than 2000 leases of the highest mountains which are full of precious and industrial mines to China and its own national illegally by violating UNCIP.He said State Subject Rule is still strictly observed on both side of Jammu & Kashmir, except Gilgit Baltistan and accused that Pakistan is settling its own extremist as well as Afghani, Chinese and other extremist nationals, with the intention to change the demography of the local indigenous people.He appealed UNO and European Union to press Pakistan to withdraw its troops and citizens , according UNCIP resolution of 13 August 1947, 5 Jan 1949 and 28 April 1949 Truce Terms. “Violations of state subject rule should be declared as null, and void and violators should be sent back to their own countries” he demanded. He appealed on behalf of the people of Gilgit Baltistan appealed to the UNO, USA and European Union through the Conference to request Chinese government to handover the territories of Hunza which have been occupied for the long time and not indulge itself in the internal affairs of Gilgit Baltistan. He demanded of the European Union and world bodies to establish a Constitutional Assembly for carrying out the eviction process of Pakistani forces and civilians to pave the way for a representative and democratic government in Gilgit Baltistan as well as in the Azad Kashmir under the supervision of UN and EU. “it should not be subservient to government of Pakistan, its Army or any of its institution” he added.

Electricity, Petrol and Wheat shortage

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
Electricity, Petrol and Wheat shortage
Thousands protest against District Administration
By our correspondentAstore: Thousands gathered to protest against flour, electricity and petroleum shortage at Pareshan Chowk despite the sever chill on the call of municipal members, Astore Youth Forum, Kakarurum National Movement, Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League-N.Protestors held banners inscribed with words demanding tourism advisor Abdul Hamed Khan to ‘stop unnecessary interference in the maters of district administration’ and chanted slogans against the irresponsible attitude of district administration towards public issues while accused it of playing at the hands of tourism advisor.Addressing the gathering chairman Karakurum National Moment Iqbal Advocate said Astore was being treated as a no mans land due to which corruption was at its peak in government institutions but Public representatives are busy running after there personal benefits due to which the public issues go unnoticed. He demanded of the government to take immediate notice of the alarming situation and said the public can go rampant otherwise. Vice president PPP Astore city and member Municipal committee, Abdullah Khan while addressing the gathering said on one hand is the shortage of petroleum, flour and electricity while on the other hand tourism advisor had besieged the district administration. He said no individual had the right to play with the fate of public of Astore and for now the public awareness has risen and no one will be allowed to play hide and seek with the mass here for mere public interests.Abdul Hali of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz group, slammed district administration and tourism advisor for using government machinery for there own personal interests and demanded action against those black marketing flour in his speech. General Secretary PPP Astore Wazir Ibadat Ali advocate said due to the negligence of Public Works Department (PWD) and Food Department mass of Astore were suffering but nobody bothered to ask the mentioned departments and it is clear that there was nothing like rule of law in the district. He accused tourism advisor for using flour depot’s building to dump municipal committee’s machinery.

BNF to present its “Political and economic road map”

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
BNF to present its ‘political and economic road map’
By our correspondent
Gilgit: “we have succeded in addressing the national issue of Gilgit Baltistan at international level and now with more amendments in the party manifesto we will present a well defined political and economic road map in front of the mass of Gilgit Baltistan”. These views were expressed by Burhan Ullah senior leader of Balawaristan national front in a press statement issued from the party’s central office. He said we believe in national democratic revolution in Gilgit Baltistan and making this the very foundations of our philosophy we are struggling for its practical implementation in the region. He said paper work was under way for good functioning of institutions after establishment of state and very soon we will make a committee to work on it that is why colleges and universities were more focused so that the new generations can come to know about the glorious history of their ancestors. He said it was his firm belief that the young and coming generations will bring good name to their region like all other civilized nations and added that today’s global village stands on the very foundations of it.

Up-lift of Ghizer-Tajikistan route demanded

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
Up-lift of Ghizer-Tajikistan route demanded
By our correspondent
Gilgit: Senior nationalist Sher Ali advocate has demanded the government to immediately start work on Ghizer Tajiskistan route and said it will in no way affect business on Pak China border. ‘It will bring an economic revolution to the region instead’ he said adding that delaying the project was equal to economic massacre of the region. He said construction of the route requires less amount as the distance the distance from Gilgit to Ganj Hai was small besides the countries of East Asia are rich in fuel. ‘Gas, electricity and coal can be imported from there and the fuel crisis is not only a problem of Gilgit Baltistan but Pakistan too is haunted by the issue’ he observed. He said the road has more benefits than KKH and condemned the government for making the project a failure. He said the PPP government has carried out survey of the route in 1993 and now as it is again in power it should carry along with the project as it was in the interest of the country.

Anti-doubling drive

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
Anti-doubling drivePolitical and religious parties urged to stand against
By our correspondent
Gilgit: Deputy Amir Jameat Ulemai Islam Gilgit Moulana Maqsood Ahmed has said that tax cannot be implemented in Gilgit Baltistan in accordance with the international laws. He said the local administration’s drive against theft vehicles is an enigma in itself as on what logic did it regards vehicles being legal or illegal. He said the system of traffic is badly affected by this drive. While talking to Bange Sahar he said the local administration has no right to regard vehicles as legal or illegal when the region’s legality itself is disputed. He condemned the drive against theft vehicles by the local administration and termed it a means to earn pocket money as it was the usual habit of traffic police to harass innocent people and demand money for no legitimate reason.He said traffic system of the region is badly affected by this drive and suggested the police to check driving licenses instead, he accused the traffic police department for issuing licenses without checking legal requirements of the applicant and said his party will protest against this drive. He said in today’s crises laden world this act of the administration is another addition to the problems of the mass of Gilgit Baltistan. He urged all political and religious groups of the region to get united against this drive of the local administration.BNF,s stanceleaders of Balawaristan National Front have condemned the drive against theft vehicles and demanded an immediate stop to it. They said even after crossing ten barriers these vehicles were not different from non custom paid (NCP) vehicles. They demanded the local administration to register the vehicles and said it was economic massacre of the region. “The local administration is depriving people form there earnings in the name of doubling but will they bother to tell hope is there triple existence in the region legal”? Observed Safdar Ali, spokesman of Balawaristan National Front. Ali Haider Taj said depriving people of there vehicles is in no way a legal or ethical act and added that the party along with other nationalist parties and mass of the region will start a long lasting protest against the drive if this is continued. Burhan ullah said I want to make clear to the administration to register the vehicles and give them back to there owners other wise no move of the local administration will meet success.

`Those without a political destination are opposing our movement

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
`Those without a political destination are opposing our movement`: GBDA
By our correspondentGilgit: leaders of Gilgit Baltistan Democratic Alliance have said that those opposing our movement have no knowledge of there own political destination. While condemning the statement published in a local weekly against the alliance, they said the people chanting slogans of there honesty with Pakistan have strong ties with Taliban and these are the people whose ancestors had opposed creation of Pakistan. They said we neither are against any county nor have are we plotting against anyone. “We are struggling for our independence which is our very right and mission and no body can stop us from this” they observed. They said those opposing us have no knowledge of there own political destiny and are riding two boats at once. They said these people are on one hand chanting slogans of there loyalty with Pakistan on the other hand they have close ties with anti Pakistan Taliban forces. They said nobody can stop GBDA from gaining its aim.

The case of Boloristan and its future prospects

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
The case of Boloristan and its future prospects
By Tahir Jan Hunzai
Today Bolor region is facing problems squarely; one hand it is confronting social and economic problems while on the other hand its national integrity too is at stake. If events persist in this order it won’t be wrong to say that like the past, Baloristan will split into many fragments. The way in which Chitral and Kohistan were cut off from our region there is an equal possibility that parts will be disintegrated from Balosristan now or in the near future and the mass like the past will not be able to do anything but watch the region gradually disintegrate into small fragments. Linguistic discrimination has become an integral part of our nature and instead of thinking for our own integrity, our religious contractors are praying hard for the integrity of our masters instead. Namberdars and headers are waiting for opportunity to serve there masters. Our hired militia is mad waiting for the time when it can give away whatever he owes in the name of its master and personnel of the intelligence agencies are hunting for patriotic nationalist’s activists. God forbids if we get alternate masters in lieu of the long waited independence these people will be equal loyal to the new masters and will go the very lengths to please there master. Question arises that how this situation was created in ‘darkens of the night’ to get an answer we need to turn the pages of history. And history reveals that this situation was completed in three distinct phases. These phases are the era before 1842 and second phase constitutes the time from 1842 to 1891 while the third phase comprises time from 1891 to 1947. We were independent till 1842 and our rulers were hard core patriots along with our Numberdars, Haveldars and the state machinery of the independent states. We were economically weak but had a strong position regarding independence and nobody had the guts to prove us weak on the national question. We were considered to be the bravest on earth and states of Hunza, Yaseen and Nagar’s bravery were famous in Sirinagar. According to Ghansara Singh “the people of this region were without doubt fighting with one another but were united whenever foreign invader came and this was the very logic of there independence”. Enmity was created among mass of the state when to save the kingdom of Gilgit Raja Karim Jan took aid from Sikhs and from this started a chain of our slavery and the local rulers started asking for aid to fight against other local rulers. When Raja Karim Khan sought aid from Sikhs, brave rulers like Gohar Aman of Yaseen and Safdar Ali of Hunza turned every stone to force Sikhs leave the region and the time from 1812 to 1891 passed in wars for independence and this was the time when our fate was to be decided but considering the strategic importance of the region the English imperialists with the aid of Sikhs, Dogar and Gorkha army fought a bloody war at Nilt resulting in surrender of Hunza and Nagar. This war fought at Nilt was fought between British army, Sikhs and Dogras with the combined forces of Hunza and Nagar. Nagar was defeated after which mass massacre took place at Chilas and then Yaseen as a result a legendary era of this region came to an end and than stated the dark era of slavery and nepotism by the British Raj in the region which till the present is continued. After 1891 Nazeem Khan was appointed Mir (ruler) in Hunza while members of royal family were appointed Governers in the Yaseen state. These governors were mere paid rulers meant to work for the benefits of British Raj and the status of these rulers was nothing more than personal assistants of British imperialists in there respective regions. These governors on the directives of the British Raj harrased there own people and did every thing to demolish the progressive and revolutionary souls in them. As a result of the continuous harassment of the mass of Hunza and Yaseen the people became so astute that nobody can today believe that these are the people who had fought the war of Nilt. From 1891 to 1947/48 these Rajas and Mirs never tried to fight for there own existence but remained loyal; more than the king to there masters instead sent a force in the name of Gilgit Scouts to aid the local mass and Gilgit scout has always been used in the benefit of English rule and against its own people as happened in Chalat these scouts opened fire on there own people. When came the era of 1947/48 these Rajas and Mirs instead of bringing back there own independence provided aid to the British Raj and without any price or promise gave there respective regions of Pakistan neglecting the public opinion. Every year on November 1st, mass of Gilgit Baltistan celebrates Independence Day to make the mass believe that people of the region had fought the war on there own and gained independence on the powers of there own and affiliated to Pakistan after an interim government of 15days. This is a mere fake rather the greatest fraud of history and when incidence of 1st November took place both independence and slavery was waiting the fate of the region in parallel to each other. When Gilgit scouts under leadership of Major Brown arrested Ghansara Singh and announced independence it came the other way and the announced independence proved to be a miserable long lasting slavery in turn. On the very directives of major brown, independence seeker Shah Raes Khan and Captain Mirza Hasan Khan were side lined knowing the fact that Mirza Hassan and Shah Raees Khan were seeking independence. Local rulers were not with this seeking independence and the Gilgit Scout was force of local rulers. In a nutshell, one side were those seeking accession as major Brown, Babar Khan and Shah Khan while on the other hand were those seeking independence as Shah Raes Khan and Shah Khan but later Mirza Hassan claimed that they had fought the war of independence and won but fighting along them were Gilgit scouts and how can Mirza claim that he had fought for independence despite knowing the fact that Gilgit scout was fighting for accession. if this is the fact than Miraza Khan can never be called our national hero as he had not fought for accession but Mirza committed this blander and made himself doubtful…. What should be done now as whatever has happened has happened and we cannot alter the past. when our master were chained in 1948 we once again remained slave or became old slaves under new masters and a political agent of Pakistani rulers came to our region who kept our region literally under siege in the name of black laws as Frontier crimes regulation (FCR) while on the other hand when in 1948 Pakistan and India fought a number of wars on the Kashmir front. according to the resolutions of United Nations seize fire was implemented with the aid of former Soviet socialist block and in the resolutions of United Nations the separate identity of Balosristan was accepted and it was ordered to withdraw foreign troops from the region and it was decided to make a local authority that can govern the region till the solution of Kashmir dispute. Local security will be under control of local Para military forces but we remained ignorant of this entire taking place at the international level. We kept chanting slogans of constituent and rights and the Pakistani establishment too deprived us saying that solving this problem will create problems to the Kashmir cause. There was no questing of any harm to the Kashmir cause but it was said so because Pakistan knew that beurocracy will never get the benefits which were not acceptable to the Pakistani establishment. The so called leadership of Kashmir too showed duplicity and considered Baloristan a hurdle in its way and aided Pakistan to deprive us of our rights. We should demand that local authority should be granted according to the resolution of the United Nations and every feign troops be immediately withdrawn from the region. Demanding so dose not mean that we are coming crime of any sort instead undoing a crime committed by Pakistan which its doing since 61years. we should demand Pakistan to leave us on the position of 1947/48 and only than can the mass of Baloristan take any legal step regarding its fate either it be accession to Pakistan or making an independent state this should not matter to Pakistani rulers and no one has given Pakistan the right to make us live under colonial system in the name of Kashmir cause.

Conference on ‘Cultural heritage of Kashmir’ held

Weekly Bang Sahar Saturday 13 December———-26 December, 2008
Conference on ‘Cultural heritage of Kashmir’ held
By our correspondent
Brussels: An international conference on cultural heritage of Kashmiri people ended here Thursday night stressing that irrespective of their location, “All people of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir share a unique and ancient heritage”.The two-day conference organized by British Member of the European Parliament Baroness Emma Nicholson was attended by representatives of various groups and factions from both sides of the divided Kashmir. At the end of the gathering, the participants issued a declaration expressing their resolve to “forge a peaceful pathway through identifying and implementing a series of steps” that will lead to a prosperous and cohesive future for all Kashmiris wherever they may reside. Emma Nicholson, who authored the European Parliament’s report on Kashmir which was adopted by a vast majority of the EU Assembly in 2007, said the purpose of the conference was to tackle for the first time the creation of a path for peace and prosperity for the people of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir .My colleagues here said this is the best ever report (on Kashmir) so what we get next. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the best offering I could make was to create an institution on the web. It is a club on the web,” she said. Nicholson said she hopes to launch the web within two weeks. “We will work step by step to get peace, prosperity, fundamental freedoms, rule of law,” she added.Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, chairman of the United Kashmir Peoples National Party, said the conference has formed working groups, which will deal with various issues like rule of law and judiciary reform. “It was a successful conference,” he said. Abdul Hamid Khan, chairman of the Balwaristan National Front, addressing the conference spoke about the “alarming situation of Chinese new design to occupy Gilgit Baltistan with the blessing of Pakistan”. Shabir Choudhury, spokesman of Kashmir National Party, said: “Kashmiri struggle in a view of nationalist Kashmiris is a struggle to get national independence for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but this should not be done in name of any religion as Kashmir dispute is not religious in nature.”Meanwhile, the Kashmir Centre in Brussels Wednesday organized the fourth annual Human Rights Day celebration luncheon.

Bang Vol-02 Issue-22,23

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Volume-02 Issue-21


Mumbai carnage: time to test

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
(Editorial)
Mumbai carnage: time to testPak-India ties
The ever changing drastic and elastic foreign policy and back door diplomacy between Pakistan and India is once again lingering on the shoot signs of terrorists. Bombay bombings have mounted relations of both countries and hands forwarded for friendship are pulled back to traditional hatred and rivalry.The Indian accusation of presence of pro Pakistan elements in Mumbai carnage has put the newly elected Pakistani government in a fix putting a heavy load on its already weak shoulders. It seems from the reaction of Pakistan and India that both the countries are on the verge of war and seem to be preparing for war.Some unseen powers are not happy with President Zardari’s statements regarding Kashmir issue and opening of old routes and these powers bombed Mumbai right at the moment when foreign ministers of Pakistan and India penned down an agreement to reopen Skardu-Kargil route and Khokrapar-Mona Bao.The allegations of both the countries against each other after Mumbai carnage give the impression that both the countries are moving towards war ground from the negotiation tables. This is a universal truth that both Pakistan and India have never been independent in the true sense and the negotiations taking place too were on the behest of unseen hands and that unseen hand directs both countries sometimes to fight and at times to negotiate.As a mater of fact the ties between India and Pakistan seem to be tensed but keeping the ties in this condition of stress in neither in the interest of Pakistan nor India because the force fighting war of America against Taliban in the western border is not free to open another front on the eastern boarder. Even if it gets into war on the western boarder America will never want to let a force fight another war leaving behind America’s war and visit of American foreign secretary of Pakistan and India advocates this view.Pakistan and India never tried to learn any thing from history as the countries have fought bloody wars in the past resulting in no profit and only loss to the governments on both sides. Masses of both the countries were plunged into the ocean of poverty, ignorance and a bleak future.Kargil war is a live example in which the brave army of Gilgit-Baltistan was made to fight against the trained Indian troops and the Pakistani government was forced to go and bow in Washington to stop the ongoing war. After every war commissions are formed but these commissions always come up with nothing. It is either astonishing that neither the aim of war is known or its objectives.This time too the ongoing talks on Kashmir are halted for the time being due to Mumbai carnage and masses of Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan are once again drown in the oceans of fear.Every time the terrorist incidents in Pakistan and India are linked with Kashmir issue and heart ranching is the fact that each time so-called jihadi organizations of Kashmir are accused. Nationalist and intelligentsia of Kashmir are of the view that these so-called jihads, fighting for there freedom of Kashmir are the true enemies of impendence of Kashmir because jihad culture has sabotaged the peaceful environ of Kashmir.Masses of Gilgit-Baltistan were very happy with the news of opening of Skardu-Kargil route but Mumbai carnage shattered there dreams and put a full stop to the happiness of the people of the region. Pakistan and Indian governments need to assure the reopening of Skardu-Kargil route, if a blind eye is turned to the opening of the route masses of the region will be right in saying that terrorist are not enemies of Pakistan and India but of Gilgit-Baltistan which never want the divided families to meet.Analysts too are of the view that this region has boarders touching with many borders of the world and it is best known as gateway of Asia. Due to this reason Gilgit-Baltistan has gained attention from the international community and any decision regarding the region can become a part of international politics. Its bad luck of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir that the so-called leaders have always looked towards other people taking decision regarding the region and specially Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have always been under the trap of bureaucracy and people of these regions have always looked towards Islamabad for decisions and Islamabad itself cannot take any decision on its own it has to look towards Washington.What is needed is that people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir should make themselves capable of making there own decisions instead of looking towards Islamabad. When Sirinagar, Muzafarabad and Gilgit will be able to decide future of its people in their own cities only then the fate of the region will be changed.

Propagators against nationalist

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Propagators against nationalistMovements to be resisted: GBDA
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Nationalist movements of Gilgit-Baltistan have slammed Chairman Kashmir Committee Maulana Fazlur Rehaman’s disparaging of nationalist movements of Gilgit-Baltistan.Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA) strongly condemned the statement and expressed its concern over the issue terming it an act of Maulana’s “ideological terrorism”. They said both Israel and Pakistan have been created in the name of religion but both are failed states and added that unlike Israel the people of Gilgit-Baltistan do not belong to a special school of thought instead the people living here who speak Shina, Balti, Burushaski, Khuwar and Wakhi language share a common history and culture.They stressed the two million people dwelling here have a glorious geo-political past, a distinct identity and a unique national question on the basis of which our movements struggle for an independent state. They said conspirators are daunted by our movement so are propagating false allegations against us but we do not care and it is our firm belief that independence is the only solution to the problems of the region.They expressed there concern over silence of local leadership regarding the issue and demanded the local leadership to give a solid response to Maulana’s ideological terrorism. They said we want to make it clear that Pakistan not needs to advocate for us in accordance with the Kashmir dispute and the Kashmir committee is not capable of granting our rights.They said only the mass of the region has the right to advocate for and justify there independence so neither we need the analysts of Kashmir committee over our problems nor we want to start from zero after a lapse of sixty one years.”No doubt the progressive and nationalist movements of Gilgit-Baltistan are striving for an independent state and in today’s democratic world a state is not owned by the movements but by the public” they said and added that if the mass of Gilgit-Baltistan are Israelites than the state surely be called an Israelite state they observed.The chairman had alleged that nationalist movements were aimed at turning the region to a mini Israel on behest of the west while addressing a welcome gathering in NA house Islamabad.

Diamer Bhasha to test mantle

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Diamer Bhasha to test mantleof new leadership
By Hub Ali Sani
Karachi: The most controversial water reservoir to be built in Gilgit Baltistan known as Diammer-Bhasha dam will test the mantle of new leadership and international analysts have regarded it the greatest challenge for the government.Despite all the technical difficulties and political pressure if the government succeeds in construction of the dam it will be ‘not less a miracle’. The government is facing risks squarely as on side stands political pressures from international community while on the other hand the technically engineered adventure in it self is enigma.According to international analysts, the financial barrier in it self is a great hurdle for as the initial construction requires demolishing of 110km long KKH (Karakurum Highway) and its replacement with an alternate road on the high mountains as height of the dam would be 270 meter and the total area will be 27500 acres.Construction of the dam initially requires up-gradation of the 325km long road from Havellian to the construction site besides 140km long road from Sazan to Rajkot needs to be reconstructed. Linking it with national power grid station Tarebella requires two circuits of 500kw and 250km long transmission lines, these lines will be installed on the dangerous high mountains where risk of landslide and other natural disasters put a no warranty stamp on the equipment and transmission lines. The feasibility report was prepared by a black listed company of Germany with aid from consortium of four other companies and the government has allocated a huge amount of 12.5 billion dollars.Besides causing heavy financial and environmental loss to the region, construction of the dam will have equally an adverse affect on the region’s historical and cultural heritage. Construction of the dam will demolish almost 95% remaining of Buddhism and Brahman stone carvings and other such historical memorials. In the past government had embarked upon a project to preserve the heritage and for this reason an initial fund of five million was granted to the tourism department. Sources say that 38000 stone carvings and ancient manuscript are embedded in the rocks of 90km long road from Darel Tangeer to Raikot and the construction of dam will deprive the region from these ancient manuscripts.Minister for water and power Raja Pervez Ashraf while talking to media men said the dam will provide electricity worth 1.5 billion dollars annually besides providing indirect benefit worth billions to the agriculture sector. He said royalty issue will be resolved on the basis of ‘give and take’ with the people of NWFP and Gilgit Baltistan and added that a comprehensive plan was been made for the settlement of the afectees.It is merit mentioning here that in 1950 when Pakistan decided to built dams Diamer dam was no where in the files of suitable sites besides the 1957 report of World Bank and the 1979 report of WAPDA reservation action plan too has no mention of the controversial dam which adds to controversy and guarantees the disputed nature of the dam. India too has expressed its reservation over the dam and clearly stated that construction of the dam will affect the ongoing Kashmir talks. History is witness that major controversies between Pakistan and India are based on water issues and the past and such issues have drastically changed the position of both countries on international chess board of politics. Pakistan people party had strongly opposed construction of the dam in the past but unlike the past it has taken a u turn on the dam issue and its subordinates in Gilgit Baltistan too are dumb and devoid of any clear cut vision road map.The people too have strong reservations and had demonstrated for there rights many a times but there vows were never heard in the corridors of power like ever but only time will tell in which direction the horse will mount.

Judges appointment

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Judges appointmentLocals should be givenpriority
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: Gilgit-Baltistan Bar Association (GBBA) has demanded of the federal government to appoint locals against the vacant posts of judges in the Supreme Appellate Court, Gilgit.In a meeting of the bar chaired by president High Court Bar Association Amjad Hussain advocate here the following day the bar passed a unanimous resolution for immediate filling of the vacant posts in the supreme appellate court.The bar said that people of the region were suffering due to absence of judges but government was doing nothing in this regard. They slammed the PCO judges saying that no PCO judge will be accepted in the supreme appellate court.”The government is benefiting from PCO judges and due to which the local judges and advocates of the region are facing lots of problems”, the deplored. They said that the likely appointment of controversial judge Nawaz Abbasi will ever be accepted and the bar will go the very limits to stop the retired judge’s appointment in the region. They criticized PPP government for nominating retired judges and said due to this act of the federal government the supports of PPP in Gilgit-Baltistan were embarrassed. Senior vice president High Court Bar Association Ateequr Rehman advocate said if any retired non local judge is nominated, the people and the lawyers’ forum will protest.

Put your own house in order first:

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Put your own house in order first:Fazal told
By Our Correspondent
Lahore: The newly elected president of Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO), Lahore Shams u Rehman has condemned chairman Kashmir committee Moulana Fazlur Rehman’s statement and regarded it result of a lack of knowledge.He said from the last sixty one years the people were struggling for there legitimate rights and nobody will be allowed a negative interpretation.’Maulana should first think of his motherland which is constituently a part of Pakistan but writ of the state is sabotaged at every step and the people are fighting with there own army’, he maintained.He said Maulana is habitual of dismantling the truth and when a leading journalist of Jang group, Ansar Abasi uncovered the story of land granted to Maulana in lieu of seventeenth amendment he accused him of spying for the Jews.He suggested that being chairman of Kashmir committee Maulana should visit Gilgit-Baltistan and try to understand depths of the issues. Expressing his concern over the contradictory statements regarding constitutional status and rights, he said there is no mention of Gilgit-Baltistan in the constitution of Pakistan and the judiciary of the country too has termed it a disputed region so government should think carefully before talking about fifth province or Azad Kashmir like set up.He said the political heavy weights of Islamabad talk about issues of Gilgit-Baltistan without bothering to understand the very basics of it and said the leadership of Gilgit- Baltistan to stop bowing before them because solution of the issue is not in the limits of these leaders in the corridors of power.

Thousands protest against police high-handedness

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Thousands protest against police high-handedness
By Our Reporter

Rawalpindi: Thousands of activists belonging to various political, nationalist and religious parties of Gilgit-Baltistan protested against police highhandedness, arrest and implicating of innocent people in a kidnapping for ransom case by police.Thirteen people belonging to Gilgit Baltistan and Kohistan were arrested in Rawalpindi against charges of kidnapping for ransom case but no information was found against the arrested persons in any policy station of the city.The protestors were holding placards inscribed with the slogans of police high-handedness and demanded the immediate release of convicted and suspension of the police personnel uninvolved.Addressing the gathering member northern areas legislative assembly Muhammad Akhter said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are peace loving but that dose not mean that any one can do any thing to them, he appealed president of Pakistan to probe into the matter and said we have always been deprived and facing injustices but this wont go long.Leader Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Shafqat Ali Enqilabi while addressing the gathering said we are exploited since last sixty one years but it won’t last long. He appealed the demonstrators to get united and said it dose not mater that to which particular religious or political party you belong but you should remember that you belong to Gilgit Baltistan and for that you have to forget your political and ideological affiliations and struggle for the region. He said if the convicted are not released within 48 hours Sost boarder and KKH will be blocked.Demonstrators belonged to Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO), Baltistan Students Federation (BSF), Peoples Students Federation (PSF), Karakurum Students Organisation (KSO) and other regional and federal political parties.

Bureaucrats must start packing up their luggage soon: Akbar

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Bureaucrats must start packing up their luggage soon: Akbar
By Our Special Correspondent
KARACHI: Giglit-Baltistan suffered a lot under bureaucratic rule but the days of the rulers from the centre are numbered now, as a democratic society has emerged due to untiring struggle of the sons of the soil, who were able to highlight this issue at international level.These views were expressed by Khan Akbar Khan, ex-member District Council Ghizer while talking to journalists here the other day. He demanded the government to restore the political and constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan. He lauded the sacrifices and role of BNF’s exiled Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan.The issue of Gilgit-Baltistan is now well addressed at international level, he said, adding that it is not easy to suppress the region like past. Highlighting the historical struggle of nationalists, he maintained that when the nationalists raised voice against the access and injustices done to the region in 1997 they were brutally tortured by bureaucracy which is an undeniable example of state-terrorism and since then BNF’s exiled chairman played a vital role in uniting the nationalist movements and brining the issue to lame light of the united nation which is praise worthy.He further said it was due to efforts of Mr Khan, the world came to know about the reality of Gilgit-Baltistan issue. “Now it is not the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan only but international community has also been involved in it”, he added.”This success of the exiled chairman has burnt the nights of the illegal conquerors of Gilgit-Baltistan and they are propagating hard to blackmail his party but it is the good luck of the nation and the undaunted struggle of Mr Khan that the international community is closely monitoring the injustices done to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan”, he opined.He demanded the government to accept the previous political and constitutional status of Republic of Gilgit-Baltistan and allow the exiled chairman to return back to continue his struggle in a democratic way. He warned the government to stop the propaganda against the exiled chairman otherwise a nation-wide protest will be initiated against the government.

Rulers warned to stop propaganda against

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Rulers warned to stop propaganda againstBNF chief
By Our Special Correspondent
Karachi: Giglit-Baltistan has been made a no-man’s land by the bureaucracy but the issue has been raised at the international level and the bureaucracy’s days in the region are numbered.These views were expressed by Khan Akbar Khan, ex-member District Council Ghizer, while talking to journalists here. He demanded that the political and constitutional status of the former republic of Gilgit-Baltisan should be accepted. He also applauded the sacrifice and role of BNF exiled Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan.He said the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan has been highlighted at the international level and it is not easy to suppress the region like in the past. Highlighting the historical struggle of nationalists, he said when the nationalists raised voice against the excesses and injustices done with the region in 1997 they were tortured by the bureaucracy which was an example of state terrorism.He said since then, BNF’s exiled chairman has played a vital role in uniting the nationalists and brining the issue to limelight at the world forums including the United Nations. He said it was due to Abdul Hamid Khan that the world came to know about the reality of the Gilgit-Baltistan issue.

Failed state not acceptable: KNM

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Failed state not acceptable: KNM
Chilas: Leader Karakurum National Movement (KNM) Ghufran Batukhel has said that religious, military and political troika’s controversial statements have embarrassed the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.Talking to Bange Sahar here, he said troika has plunged the country into an ocean of poverty, ignorance and deprivation. He accused the establishment for looting the ruling party and said whenever Pakistan felt a danger it turned face from Kashmir issue.He said people of Gilgit-Baltistan should get united to struggle for the national cause. He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will never want to be part of a failed state.

Renaming NAs not to change its destiny: Ali

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Renaming NAs not to change its destiny: Ali
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: Renowned nationalist and progressive activist of Gilgit-Baltistan Sher Ali, a senior advocate has said that problems of the region cannot be solved by changing its name, however, the unanimous resolution of renaming the region as Gilgit-Baltistan by the so-called northern areas legislative assembly is not less than a miracle.Talking to journalists here he said that a number of resolutions were approved by the assembly in the past but not a single one was implemented practically. He slammed the local political leadership saying that despite knowing their capacity, the members of legislative assembly are befooling people.He accused the KANA division and federal government for depriving the region of its legitimate rights and said whenever any step is taken by local leadership regarding constitutional status they announce packages which only benefits the members of legislative assembly.He maintained that people of the region are living very miserable lives but KANA division cares only for the members of legislative assembly.

No compromise on dam royalty, NALA told

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
No compromise on dam royalty, NALA told
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Northern Areas Chief Executive Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan told the legislative assembly on Thursday that he had made it clear to the federal government that there would be no compromise on the rights of Diamer-Bhasha dam’s royalty, adding the centre had agreed in principal to give the people of Gilgit-Baltistan the right.He said during a meeting with the prime minister, he had demanded that the rights of the region should be ensured.The house witnessed a heated debate on a resolution tabled by Fida Mohammad Nahshad regarding creation of new districts in Skardu comprising Kharmang and Shigar subdivisions. The resolution was, however, passed despite demand by Haider Khan and Ali Murad to also make Yasin and Gupis as well as Darel and Tangir subdivisions as new districts.The house endorsed the resolution of Amna Ansari demanding formation of Gilgit-Baltistan Education Foundation, but Haider Khan opposed the name Gilgit-Baltistan and said it was not approved by the government so this could not be called as an official name.Adviser on food and information Sikandar Ali told the house that the food department did not issue licences for establishment of mills rather it was the department of industries which had the power.

Hunza hit by food and power shortage

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Hunza hit by food and power shortage
By Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA-NAGAR: The people of Hunza-Gojal are facing hardships due to electricity outages and shortage of wheat supply. The power situation is worsening, as winter is getting harsher. The unchecked increase in the prices of gas, wood and other energy sources has further aggravated the problems of the local people. Despite protests and demonstrations, authorities are unable to solve the problem. The NAPWD has further increased the load shedding duration in central and lower Hunza while the people of upper Hunza-Gojal are facing unannounced outages. People are also complaining about irregularities in supply and distribution of subsidised wheat and flour in the valley. According to sources, the Civil Supply depot in Aliabad, Hunza has storage of only 150 bags of wheat, which is not enough, even for one day. The General Secretary of All Hunza Union Council in a statement said that Amir Khan, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Hunza, had announced an increase in quota of 5,144 bags of wheat for Hunza bit it was simply to end the shutter down strike. He said Hunza was receiving the wheat quota according to 1998 population census. He demanded to ensure storage of wheat for three months as the region was totally dependent on KKH for supply.Aziz Jan, Chairman Union Council Gojal-1charged that officials were distributing local quota among the non-local government employees and favourites. He said these officials were also involved in smuggling the wheat out of the union council.He said the Union Council has not received 700 bags of wheat from the quota. He called upon the local administration to develop proper mechanism for the equal distribution of wheat and flour among the people. He said AC Hunza had assured him to investigate this issue and avoid such incidents in future. He complained that the employees at Khyber Power station were not properly fulfilling their duties and were violating the load-shedding schedule in different villages.The owner of the Hunza Flour Mill Hassanabad also complained regarding delays in supply of wheat, which ultimately resulted in delay of supply of flour to local dealers. Talking to this correspondent, Socrat Aman Rana, Assistant Commissioner, Hunza, said that with the onset of winter the demand for electricity had increased forcing NAPWD to increase the load shedding hours. He said the Hassanabad Power station had the capacity to produce only 1100 KW while the actual demand was for 3300 KW. He said the diesel generators were not functional as fund was not available for fuel.Regarding the wheat shortage, he said that he would hold a meeting with the Civil Supply Organization officials soon in order to discuss the problem. He said Hunza had a little shortfall in wheat quota till October but the quota for November was not received. He said the situation would get better after the opening of newly constructed bridge on KKH. He said NATCO had assured trucks for timely transportation of wheat.

The musician tribes of Gilgit Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
The musician tribes of Gilgit Baltistan
By Noor Muhammad
Our beautiful valleys reverberate with ecstatic sounds of the drum and melodious voice of the pipe, as the hypnotic human yells echo, synchronized with the sounds of clapping and laughter, and we dance, celebrating this or that event. Very few people notice the three, or six or nine musicians, depending on the ‘status’ of the party thrower, that are producing these wonderful rhythms of sound.They play the instruments, we dance. They enhance our happiness and we enhance their sufferings. We consider them inferior, even if their art is the nectar of our happiness and their mastery of the art the solace of pride.All rhetoric about the teachings of Islam and humanity come trembling down, as one looks at the plight of the thousands of musicians – by inheritance in different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The ancient societies have systematically discriminated against these artists, their families and always considered them as the other, the inferiors, practically, the creatures of a lesser God!The ancient and existing social systems of hatred, ridicule, neglect and discrimination directed at them have affected these fellow human beings to the extent that not only they refuse to share their language with rest of us, they also don’t communicate in the language of their ancestors, inside their homes. Seldom have groups of human beings suffered so much at the hands of their fellow human beings.Such attitude towards the master musicians who have not only given us wonderful music but are also custodians of a language that is unique to them, but part of our region’s collective cultural heritage!!Many people argue that there has been a slight shift in attitudes towards the profession of musicians over the past decade. They cite the example of KADO’s efforts for de-casting the profession of musicians, by encouraging and facilitating youth from tribes other than the Bayris, to learn the skills for playing traditional musical instruments and, more importantly, use their mastery of the instruments for earning their livelihood. This, definitely, is tantamount to hammering the chains of stigmatization and exclusion. Thanks to the efforts of KADO, today, playing traditional musical instruments is no more a hereditary profession.However, we, the youth, need to reflect on how much has our attitude changed towards the musicians and what strategies and steps need to be devised, further, to bring the musician tribes into the social mainstream.One step in this regard can be launching of initiatives, at individual and organizational levels, where the elders and youth belonging to the traditional musician tribes are able to express themselves, artistically, through music, dance, poetry and photographs, telling us more and more about their feelings, their conditions, their language and other elements of cultural heritage.Taking such a step is important because the elder generation of the traditional musician tribes is decreasing, with every passing day. The younger generation, gradually modernizing their modes of livelihood and integrating with rest of the region’s community might not be fully aware of the rich traditions that are unique to them. One of these examples is the Domaki language.While the musicians have successfully kept their language to themselves, they have been expressing themselves – their hatred, love, affection, distrust and resentment, through music, it is commonly believed in Hunza.The musicians in Hunza, at least, were required to play music for the rulers of the fiefdom, as they prepared to sleep. In Wakhi this particular tune is known as “Eynuk-e-Soz” (The tune of sleep). The tune, many believe, is full of abuses for the ancient rulers, who would make the musicians play – not caring for their sleep needs, while attempting to enter the valley of dreams themselves, riding on the beats of Dadang, Damal and the voice of Surinai.But such expressions might not be confined to the ruling elite, only, because they were not the only discriminators against the musicians. The entire society, rich or poor, ruler or subject, men or women and young or old discriminated against the musicians so we can expect that there might be some other musical tunes or “Hareeps” directed at rest of the society, as well.Decoding such rare and creative expression of human feelings, if they exist, against social injustice could be a proof that human beings don’t enjoy ‘disempowerment’, be that political, economic or cultural. Besides, it will also help preservation of the unique heritage of the musicians.It is impossible to expect such a step from a careless government that has not been able to provide adequate food, health, education and water to its citizens. Resourceful and relevant local NGOs can create such projects, with or without the help of national and international organizations.

Gilgit second largest potato producer after Bolochistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Gilgit second largest potato producer after Bolochistan
By Tika Khan
Northern Areas by virtue of its geography and climate offer heavenly conditions to several vegetables and fruits. Northern Areas stand parallel to Balouchistan province in potato production and its sale is around 30,000 metric tones-MT per year.Sindh is lagging far behind in this regard and produces only 2712 MT, however, Punjab and NWFP are the leaders in this respect and produce 2407483 and 129529MT respectively.Farmer community across Northern Areas and down country in general and Hunza/Nagar particularly witnessed 2008 very cruel and risky.Inflated rates of chemical fertilizers and transportation critically anguished the poor farmer community across the regions.In 2006 fertilizers was available for around Rs800, which soared to Rs2200 in 2007-8. Most of the poor farmers across the regions did not use Nitrophos, which is important to reclaim fertility in the fields because farmers do not practice crop rotation methods.Inaccessibility to chemical fertilizers was observed as a major cause of meager potato production. Farmer communities in the regions of Hunza/Nagar sold only 12250 MT which is almost 25% less than the previous year-2007.In terms of cash earning from potato sale, farmers remained fluky for selling 100KG bag for Rs1500 (average) as compared to Rs800 in 2007. During 2007 farmers from the region had earned Rs122.5 million rupees which increased up to Rs183.75m in 2008 with a net increase of 61m. Inflated fertilizer prices throughout the year impacted negatively on an overall production of potato but were fortunate for having reasonable sale price. Bridge accident at Gilgit took off more than 20m from farmers as potato contractors paid extra pennies for potato transportation across the suspension bridge Chinar Bagh Gilgit at a rate of Rs150-200 per bag. Contractors charged this amount directly from the poor farmers.Another reason for decreased production was the low price in 2007 i.e. Rs.800 in an average, whereas in some cases farmers had bitter experience of selling potatoes just for 300-400 rupees per bag. This type of astringent experiences equally influenced the farmers’ psyche to think beyond potato resulting in poor production.2009 production depends on the subsidies by the government on chemical fertilizers, however, wheat and flour crisis in the area for the last several months has compelled the farmer community to think towards wheat cropping. In rest of the country, farmers will enjoy the facility of crop insurances that can encourage farmer community to work hard in their fields but there is no such a service/facility introduced in the northern areas and farmer community is looking towards their masters to decide their fate.According to the estimates and predictions by the Economist Intelligent Unit-UK, agricultural production growth in the country will rise by 2.7 percent in 2009 but this seems to be a dream in Northern Areas’ context, where multiple factors decide the entire process. Agriculture bank limited has not yet written off small loans valuing upto Rs.50,000 which was announced by the then president, Musharaf. Subsidies on agriculture commodities, field to market access, proviso of irrigation water, agriculture financing and provision of crop insurance can help thousands of farmers across the regions in Gilgit-Baltistan to contribute into national income and self sufficiency level.

Will things change..?

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, December 6——–December 12, 2008
Will things change..?
By Rubab Ruby
The chain of events taking place in the forsaken land of ours had given me the notion that something is going to change but I was mistaken. I had really not understood the very basis of our politics. Granting of Azad Kashmir like set up, reopening of Skardu Kargil route, nationalist’s successful rallies and seminars and renaming of the region but than came the sad Mumbai carnage which gave every thing a U-turns. Every move regarding resolution of Kashmir dispute and good ties between Pakistan and India is alleged to conspire against the carnage and once more we are back in the early nineties. Isn’t it folly????We seem to be like that enthusiastic child who starts running and runs tremendously but when the childhood stamina speaks, the child falls down and remains where he was at the start of the race. Mumbai carnage revealed that we were slaves, we are slaves and if beurocracy and religious puppets are given this freehand we will remain slave. my phrases should not be taken as the extreme negativity or state of low esteem instead one should ponder upon the system that we dwell in. A state where beurocray and uniforms rule, where religion is taken not as a cod of ethics but a tool to conspire and religious leaders are not scholars or those with a scholastic approach but mere illiterates paid by the intelligence agencies to work for underground cause. Where legislators are criminals involved in heinous crimes against women in the name of cultural and where those making laws make it for the ‘public minus themselves’ where press is but a mere puppet or loud speaker of one particular group or school of thought, where news and opinions have no worth but to fill the space of a newspaper, where a successful journalist is one who can write to length in favor of every ruler.Can one expect any true movement to gain grounds in such conditions? The answer would of course be a big no! The way in which the Azad Kashmir like set up was propagated by the local leadership of PPP reminds me of my childhood tale. The story called sleeping beauty. it seemed as if the political heavy weights of Gilgit Baltistan are finally awaken but no they never will wake no matter the nation sinks in an occasion of deprivations they will remain in the state of comma as long as they get there monthly salaries from the federal capital. A political leader alleged some unseen hands for conspiring to make Gilgit Baltistan a mini Israel. That was not all but he went a step forward and explained the conspiracy theory in the light of his own limited negative knowledge but our local leadership cheered instead of uttering any justification or clarity. To rub salt into the wounds that bearded man is no one else but chairman Kashmir committee. Will we get the very bite of what we deserve if such leaders are given the reins of our future? Will we get anything like independence or rights and last but not the least has Mr. Moulana got any slightest idea of the ever repeated word called rights? A man for whom female is nothing but a child producing machine, a child is bred for nothing but to fight in the name of God and education means nothing but rot learning of the holy Quran and every thing that deviates from his idea is forbidden. Every person who disagrees with him is an infidel. Any one pointing out his mistakes is a spy of Jews and Jews… well the very word irritates this man. They are alive and this is forbidden as Mr. Chairman Calls they are alive because to provide the Muslims with the key to heaven.This as every one knows is the killing of Jews. Anything that is made by Jews is haraam according to this man but he feels comfortable with Pepsi, nokia and all other technological machines made by Jews.Granting such a person with such sensitive position makes any sense? Will this man resolve Kashmir issue? Is anyone from both sides of Kashmir prepared to talk to this man? Will such conservative extremists in the corridors of power do any good to the Kashmir cause than top sabotage it? It is not that Mr. Zardari found Moulana the best option but he bestowed Moulana just to make his dangling position in the coalition. Every politico plays the Kashmir cause just to elongate his days in office. People of Gilgit Baltistan and both sides of Kashmir need to struggle on there own. They need to make there own decisions they need to take there rights not beg there rights. Other wise people like Moulana will come and o and the people of Jamu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan will get nothing but allegations of plying for incidents like the sad Mumbai carnage. We need to assure the world that we believe in a peaceful struggle and we struggle on own powers for our own rights and should save our movement from the dirty eyes of paid politicians.

Bang–21

Bang-e-sahar Volum-02 , Issue-20


NALA’s move on renaming N. Areas

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
(Editorial)
NALA’s move on renaming N. Areas
After a wait of two years, a committee headed by Fida Muhammad Nashad finally submitted its report to the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly regarding change in the name of the region. The assembly had formed the committee two years back which published aids in papers to suggest a name for the region and thousands of names were received which included names on historical basis along with some new ones. The common names based on history of the region were Baloristan, Balawaristan, Karakurum, Dardistan, Brushal etc and some new names came to the limelight such as Gulistan, Paristan, Shangrilla Sona Desh etc. If the pages of history are turned for a historical name it will lead to a never ending debate.This step of the assembly is viewed positively by the masses but they have reservations regarding implementation of the resolution and their reservations are genuine as the assembly has passed a number of resolutions in the past but none was implemented except the resolution of increase in salaries of the elected representatives. The reason behind non-implementation of these resolutions is that the legislative assembly has no powers and it wholly depends on the Kana division as said by the economic adviser.Whatever it is but it should be looked at as a good step and it should be accepted that the assembly has embarked on a pragmatic issue of immediate concern in its last year of the office because the name northern areas has been our economic killer and made thousands of our transporters, business community, hotel owners, tour operators bankrupt. The nationalist fraternity had always held reservations on the issue of the name but this baseless and un-natural name had no effect on the pro-federal leaders.The incident of 9/ 11 on the one hand changed the map of the world in the name of war on terror and on the other snatched the life of thousands of innocent people living in the tribal areas; as a result nature lovers from all over the world felt insecure to travel to the region. Foreign embassies advised there tourists to avoid going to the war torn northern areas. This war-torn northern areas was referred to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) but unfortunately many mingled it with Gilgit Baltistan known officially as northern areas resulting in the collapse of tourism industry and huge loss to the stake holders associated with it besides gaining internationally a bad name. After 9/11 when Jalal Abad, Kabul Waziristan, and Swat became centre of attention for White House and Pentagon on the other hand the Gilgit Baltistan officially named Northern Areas became center of attention for international broadcasting corporations as BBC, CNN and Fox.These news organizations had a severe misconception that they termed Gilgit Baltistan as the war torn northern areas and some even broadcasted the news of Osama and Al Qaieda’s top brass in the mountains of K2. Due to such news the western tourists were directed not to travel in these areas. This along with the governments disinterest in tourism industry added squarely to the poverty of the already deprived nation. The people who had made hotels, motels and other tour operating companies with aid of loan from various banks were the worst sufferers and they lost whatever they had earned. In these circumstances the change of name of the region by the assembly is a bold step and appreciate able. In the lights of national question and identity if the name is even changed to masaelistan (land of problems) it would be agreeable but we still are not satisfied regarding the authority and legislative powers of the assembly and may not implementation of this resolution remain in papers like the resolutions of the past.The members of assembly once had passed a resolution to change the then Chief Executive Tahir Iqbal but the government in Islamabad turned a deaf ear to that resolution and the members were seen running for there seats. If this resolution is not accepted by those in the capital, the members should devise an alternate way from now. If this resolution is not implemented the status of assembly will badly be dismantled and it members will have to face loss in the coming elections.

Conspiracy to submerge

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Conspiracy to submergeGB will be resisted
By Our Correspondent
KARACHI: The Balawaristan National Front (BNF) has called upon all international human rights organizations as well as the United Nations to come to the rescue of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and pressure Pakistan to immediately stop its plan of constructing Diamer-Bhasha and other dams in the disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan. Speaking at a press conference at a Karachi hotel, BNF central senior vice-president Syed Haider Shah Rizvi reminded the international community that Gilgit-Baltistan was a disputed region as recognized by the UN. But for the last some time Pakistan has been planning to construct a number of dams in various parts of the region in complete disregard to the international laws and the local people’s opposition to the projects. The BNF leader said he had earlier stated that by constructing dams after dams in the region Pakistan wanted to turn Gilgit-Baltistan into ‘Damistan’. He said as a first step Pakistan was conspiring to build the Diamer-Bhasha dam aimed to submerge the whole area. He said his apprehension about making the region ‘Damistan’ was coming true as Pakistan had planned to build as many as 24 dams in Gilgit-Baltistan. Recently, he added, Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani visted Khurmang along with the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly’s powerless deputy speaker Syed Asad Zaidi and announced to construct the Khurmang dam too. The survey for this project ahs already started and if the project was completed, he feared, 25 villages in the Kargil and Batalik sectors would be removed from the map of the region. The project will also cause migration of over 20,000 people and will destroy the local culture and heritage. He said the people of Khurmang, Kargil and Batalik sectors have rendered invaluable services for Pakistan since 1947 and have been voted to power Mr Asad Zadi and Syed Mohammad Ali Shah Rizvi alternatively, but these two leaders have failed to protect their rights. Mr Zaidi is also helping Pakistan to build the dam in order to irrigate the agricultural land of Punjab at the cost of his own constituency. He said under the Indus Water Treaty, former president Ayub Khan had handed over the rivers Sutlej, Bias and Ravi in 1960 to India while on the remaining rivers India has been building dams and depriving Pakistan of its waters. He said today Pakistan was eying the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan to construct dams to irrigate its land and making the region a scapegoat for its stupidity of selling its own rivers to India about 50 years back. He announced that the people of Khurmang would resist the construction of any dam in their area, adding his part was in the back of the local residents. He also announced the formation of a “Khurmang Dam Namanzoor Committee” which will comprise of representatives from Khurmang and would launch a movement against the project. He said later similar moves would also be launched in all other areas where the government was planning to build dams against the wishes of the people and in disregard of international laws.

NALA renames N. Areas

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
NALA renames N. Areasas Gilgit-Baltistan
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The Northern Areas Legislative Assembly finally approved thelong-waited resolution renaming the region as Gilgit-Baltisan. The session was presided over by Speaker Malik Mohammad Misken. Soon after the session started, the speaker ordered Fida Mohamad Nashad to submit the report of the committee formed to rename the region on May 4, 2007. Nashad, while presenting his report, stated that the legislative assembly had formed a committee to rename the region headed by him and the committee held its final meeting on September 12, 2008 in which the report was finalized. He said the committee had determined right from the very first day to propose a name that can reflect the cultural, historical and geographical importance of the region so that the coming generations may not find it difficult to have a common cultural, historical and geographical identity. He stated that 1,371 people had given their suggestions regarding renaming of the region. As a result, a total of 57 names were received by the committee and every name was debated in different meetings of the committee but no name was unanimously accepted. So the committee sought election on the names received. The members of the assembly voted for the received names on August 23, 2007, in which four out of the six members voted in support of Gilgit-Baltisan while Rani Ateqa Ghazanfar submitted her vote later that too in support of Giglit-Baltistan. Meanwhile, a member of the committee, Haider Khan, had voted for Gulistan and Muzafar Rally was for Karakurum. Nashad said Giglit-Baltistan is a historical name as the region was named Gilgit-Baltistan till 1972. Participating in the debate regarding the recommendations of the committee, Shekh Nisar Sarbaz of PPP said the term northern areas brought bad image as it was being mixed up with the tribal areas. He said the chief minister of Sindh had ordered registration of people coming from the northern areas in Karachi some days back. He demanded the approval of Gilgit-Baltistan the very day. Another member of PPP, Ghulam Mohammad said if we keep on discussing the issue we will not be able to get a name for the region in the coming 60 years. Besides, Gilgit-Baltistan is more feasible from the list of suggested names received by the assembly so it is natural to rename the region as Gilgit-Baltistan. He said in Sindh, 40 percent people were Urdu speaking but they have never questioned the name of the province. Likewise, Balochistan has an equal number of Pushtuns along with Balochis but they too do not disagree over the name of their province so why should we disagree over Gilgit-Baltistan as it represents our history, culture and tradition. Yet another member of PPP, Shekh Aftab Haider while addressing the assembly said it was our bad luck not to be able to become a nation after 60 years. Muzafar Rellay said he had opposed the name and suggested Karakurum at the beginning of the session but respecting the norms of democracy I agree over the proposed name of Gilgit-Baltistan. He stated that the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan were one nation and I am proud to be a member of this nation. Food Adviser Capt (Retd) Sikandar Ali said if we go along the lines of differences and discriminations we won’t be able to survive. He said this region is to be taken on the path of progress and is to be given its legitimized rights for which naming the region as Gilgit-Baltistan is the first ray of hope. Nasirullah said the region is known around the globe as Gilgit-Baltistan while Northern Areas is a confusing name and dose not show a particular geographical location so it should be renamed. Another member of the assembly, Fidaullah Advocate said this house had formed the committee to propose a name for the region and now when they have finally come up with a common agreed name we should respect their decision and the region should be named Gilgit-Baltistan. The Chief Executive while taking part in the debate said we have lost a lot due to northern areas and now we can no more bear it. He said the earthquake that hit Mansehra was associated with Northern Areas. The bloodshed of FATA is associated with Northern Areas due to which not only our tourism industry suffered but also we earned a bad name at the international level. He said Gilgit-Baltistan is a historical name and this can only be the true identity of the region and the people. He demanded the assembly to unanimously pass the resolution and accept the suggested name.The speaker conducted voting after the speech of the chief executive in which all the 18 members present in the session agreed to rename the region as Gilgit-Baltistan.

No compromise on dam royalty: NALA told

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
No compromise on dam royalty: NALA told
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Northern Areas Chief Executive Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan told the legislative assembly on Thursday that he had made it clear to the federal government that there would be no compromise on the rights of Diamer-Bhasha dam’s royalty, adding the centre had agreed in principal to give the people of Gilgit-Baltistan the right.He said during a meeting with the prime minister, he had demanded that the rights of the region should be ensured.The house witnessed a heated debate on a resolution tabled by Fida Mohammad Nahshad regarding creation of new districts in Skardu comprising Kharmang and Shigar subdivisions. The resolution was, however, passed despite demand by Haider Khan and Ali Murad to also make Yasin and Gupis as well as Darel and Tangir subdivisions as new districts.The house endorsed the resolution of Amna Ansari demanding formation of Gilgit-Baltistan Education Foundation, but Haider Khan opposed the name Gilgit-Baltistan and said it was not approved by the government so this could not be called as an official name.Adviser on food and information Sikandar Ali told the house that the food department did not issue licences for establishment of mills rather it was the department of industries which had the power.He acknowledged that there was shortage of wheat flour, but it was due to the fault of millers and dealers. He said 1,200,000 bags of wheat on subsidised rates had been transported to the region and foolproof measures were being adopted to stop pilferage during the transportation of the commodity.In reply to a question of Walayat Ali Khan, the adviser informed the house that 310,000 bags of wheat were given to Skardu. Fida Mohammad Nashad thanked prime minister’s adviser on interior for announcing creation of 5,000 vacancies and said filling of these posts would help reduce unemployment in the area.Shahida Shafi said the government had given 8,000 forms of Banazir Income Support Programme to members of National Assembly irrespective of their party affiliation but the Northern Area was ignored.

Mineral resources

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Mineral resourcesto bedeveloped
Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister of Northern Areas and Kashmir Affairs QamarZaman Kaira has expressed the governments’ interest inthe economic, social and cultural uplifting of northern areas and said the government wasfocusing on making a suitable environment for private investors in the region for the development of minerals and gems.Addressing a workshop in northern areas house here on development of minerals, he said the government will develop hydropower projects in the region and create job opportunities besides providing the people with the rights over there resources.He urged the local people to come forward and pay their role in utilization of the natural resources in the region and said funds will be provided for the local people who were interested in development of the mineral sector.He said students’ contribution will be beneficial regarding survey of the region. Praising arrangement of the workshop he said such gatherings will give good result for devising a common and agreed to all plan for development of minerals in the region.During the workshop different groups exchanged views on survey, research, strategic plan, and marketing and regulatory frame work. Chief Secretary Northern Areas was also present on the occasion.

Establishment’s tactics slammed

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Establishment’s tactics slammed
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Despite pumping millions of budget in the programmers organized in connection with 1st November, the administration’s failure to attract masses towards itself is the ray of hope in the dark night of slavery and the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan have proved that they can no more be made fool of. These views were expressed by Central Leader Karakuram National Movement Shah Zaman in a press release issued from the party’s central office.It said the tremendous volcano hidden inside the masses and the youth of the region can react anytime and burn to ashes the puppets of rulers that have snatched their independence. Youth and masses of the region are restless to contribute to a vibrant movement that can bring back their national identity and independence that their ancestors had gained on their own strength.He said the issue of 1st November is a questionmark for the establishment and administration and seeking the general psychology ofthe public they need to give what the public want otherwise like every movement ofhistory the people of the region will snatch there rights causing a great loss to the establishment.

Timber smuggling from N.Areas

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Timber smuggling from N.Areas
Kana division accused of causing huge loss to national kitty
By Farooq Ahmed
GILGIT: Speaker of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly (NALA) Malik Mohammad Miskeen has accused the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas of causing a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer by providing relief to the timber smugglers in the region.In an interview with this correspondent, Malik Mohammad Miskeen, who is also chairman of the non-functional Public Accounts Committee, said since 1993 under the patronage of KANA Division not only the illegally-cut timber had been smuggled to the rest of the country but also the natural forest was destroyed despite a ban imposed by the federal government.He said the KANA Division had sought report on how much illegal and legal timber was lying in the region so that the matter could be resolved.The local administration submitted the report, prepared by the forest department, to the government stating that 2.5 million cubic feet of illegally cut timber was present in different parts of the region. He said KANA Division approved a policy for transportation of the timber after which it was shifted.Mr Miskeen said the government had devised three different policies to transport timber that had been chopped down illegally in various areas. Lastly, the administration of the Northern Areas submitted a report to the KANA division in which it was mentioned that 3.8 million cubic feet of timber was ready for transportation after their categorisation and recommended imposition of fine. The speaker, while quoting a fresh decision of the federal cabinet, said the government approved transportation of 3.8 million cubic feet of timber subject to imposition of fine against various timber smugglers.“In the notification the government categorically deferred the working plan and advised adoption of various measures to protect natural forests,” he added.Mr Malik said KANA Division conveyed the notification to the region’s administration and ordered its implementation in letter and spirit. However, after a lapse of some time it issued another directive and declared some part of the timber legal whereas in the notification of the federal government nothing was mentioned as such. He said if 3.8 million cubic feet of timber mentioned in the notification of the prime minister was transported in due course of time then the fixed fine should be deposited in the national exchequer. He also demanded that the government should make it public how much money was deposited as fine. According to rough estimates, the timber traders have incurred a loss of Rs3.42 billion on the national exchequer by not depositing the fine and transporting the timber.The speaker said the timber should remain at the site if government failed to come up with the deposited money.He said if timber was not transported despite payment of fine then it would become government property because under the federal directive, after September 30, the leftover timber would be confiscated.“However, it was unfortunate that the timber had been transported after a meager amount was deposited in the treasury,” he claimed.He said another illegal way of cutting down forests was given a legal cover on the pretext of transporting timber to the rest of the country for furniture purpose. A large quantity of timber was therefore smuggled as a result but KANA Division imposed no fine due to its vested interests.

Pakistan asked to withdraw from GB

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Pakistan asked to withdraw from GB
SKARDU: Addressing a press conference at Skardu, Manzoor Hussain Parwana, Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement, asked the Government of Pakistan to withdraw its civil and military colonial rulers from Gilgit-Baltistan to ensure the restoration of basic human rights of the enslaved people of the region.Civil and military bureaucracy should cease its policy of dividing people by fomenting sectarian and ethic strife. The bureaucracy has inherited this policy from its colonial masters.

‘Give a chance to nationalists’’

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
‘Give a chance to nationalists’’
Karachi: Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO) held a seminar on the topic of “from sunrise to sunset” at Liaquat National Memorial Library here.Nationalist leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan and from other parts of the country along with a large number of students participated in the seminar. A handful of pro-federal leaders are spreading rumours and allegations against the nationalist leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan, said Sayed Hayder Shah Rizvi in his address. He appealed to the people to give a chance to nationalist leaders and said leaders of BNF will contest elections from all districts of the region. He said we should shed light on the day of slavery known as 16th November the story of which has become one of the sunset today.Ex-President Northern Areas Students Association (NASA) Sheraz Ali urged the participants to struggle for their homeland no matter to which party they belonged. The President of Baloch Students Organization (BSO) said the people of Balochistan too were deprived of there rights like those of Gilgit-Baltisan for the last 61 years and when we demand our rights the establishment ruthlessly kill our senior leaders. Ex- President Diamer Students Association condemned the Karachi Agreement of April 28, 1949 and said it was the first step of our slavery.—Correspondent

Political independence

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Political independence
By Noor Muhammad
I have been wondering about the repercussions of considering only political independence as the universal remedy for all the accumulated ills of Gilgit-Baltistan. No doubt political autonomy is very important for human beings; even God Almighty has given us the ‘liberty’ to choose our masters. He has told us about the good and the bad – explaining their benefits and hazards, and has allowed us to choose our own path. We choose what is good for us; we choose what is bad for us. But the most important notion is that we are free to choose. This philosophy of freedom of choice remains valid in the political arena as well. So, if we are not able to choose our ‘masters’ or ‘rulers’ then a principle of nature is being compromised and, so, the frustration, agitation, protests and militancy.This phenomenon is visible throughout the world. The nature of the struggle might vary but the objective – of liberating human body, mind and soul from external forces – is everywhere. Whether we are talking about the anti-corporatism, initiated, nurtured and spearheaded by “Western” universities or the armed struggle in Palestine, whether we talk about Mandela’s struggle against the Apartheid ‘white’ colonizers or Ernesto Cheguvera’s struggle against colonizers who shared his skin color or even if we talk about Baba Buleh Shah’s rebellious poetry and activism against the “Nawabs” of his time, we are talking about a common aspiration of the human beings for unyoking their bodies, their minds and their souls. We are talking about independence. But is political independence the only type of independence required for the betterment of a human society? This is a question that I want to discuss in rest of this piece of writing.Some circles in Gilgit-Baltistan enjoy political power because of the prestigious positions in the so-called legislative assembly. Some are politically powerful, independent, courtesy their prestigious positions within sectarian organizations. Others are politically powerful because of the wealth they possess; some are powerful even due to their lineage – their ancestors being the state rulers of the past. There are some who have been able to harness power because they represent many such ‘power pools’, simultaneously. The Chief Executive, Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, is one of them. He has a prestigious position because his father was the last Mir of the Hunza state. Never mind if he puts Mir as prefix to his name. Severe nostalgia can blur the lines between reality and wishful dreams. He is wealthy, no doubt. He is politically powerful because of his ‘links’ with the powerful and because a majority of the paranoid voters of Hunza still think that he has come from the “Heavens” – a heavenly figure, one of whose ancestors, centuries ago was born with a fistful of barley grains. Pity me. Coming back to the topic, there are others who are powerful because they are leaders in their sects, have money, have links with the centers of power and enjoy support of their paranoid voters, who consider them as the ‘custodians’ of sectarian interests. Some even have the matching ‘lineage’ to their credit. It will be highly relevant to take a cursory look at the way these politically empowered elite of the region use their ‘positions’ and ‘power’. Starting from the top, Ghazanfar Ali Khan used his position as the Chief Executive to monopolize the management of Silk Route Dry Port, Sost. His son, Saleem Khan – the exact opposite of his other two brothers, is the ‘muscle’, bullying the innocent, the aged and the less powerful around Hunza and Gojal. Similar is the story with all other members of NALA: The wailing!Son of an advisor from Ghizar district reportedly assured of the political power at his back, harassed police officials in Gilgit city. Another similar incident was reported in the regional press where the same “Musheer Zada” used his muscles to bully paramedic staff at a local hospital. Another incident, reported in the regional print media, saw the son of an Advisor from Chilas harassing journalists. Similar incidents are regularly reported from Skardu and Ghangche district, well. Mind you I am just talking about the ‘long arms’ of the politically empowered and their kith and kin, the ‘exercise’ of such power in the field of finance, contracts, scholarships are a separate topic, full of evidence against the abuse of political power possessed by the ‘sons of the soil’ and their sons or maybe daughters too, at some point in future!!Some journalists use the term “Thikadar-saz Assembly” for NALA!! The reason being that almost all members of the assembly are also government contractors or charge ‘commission’ from other contractors, while awarding ‘developmental’ projects’ for the ‘awam’. I know that losing hope is considered Haram in Islam. But the light at the end of tunnel is too weak to make an impact, for now, in my view. Another trend in the ‘transfusion’ of political power was evident when Mehdi Shah’s decided to court his son in the political arena, as a future leader. Why not!! He is just following what the Bhuttos and the Zardaris have done. Who would not like to infuse the ‘blue’ blood into his or her veins, even if it means forgetting about one’s ‘red’ blood!Hereditary politicians have many advantages over those who were not born in the family of the Bushes, the Kennedys, the Bhuttos, the Sharifs, the Qazis and, now, the Mehdis! They have the liberty to use party fund for staging their children, and even their grand children. In this context let’s suppose that out of the blue, one day, Gilgit – Baltistan is able to gain the political power that the political activists dream. Who will be the beneficiaries?I can bet that no Jamal Khan from a village near the Chinese border, or no Mehdi Hussain from a village located beneath the wondrous Siachin Glacier, no Nazeem Karim living under the majestic Baltit fort, no Pinin Shah from the scenic villages of Yasin valley, or not even a Miskeen Khan from Tangeer will be able to become the personification of political prowess. The rules, seemingly, are already set. You either have to be son of a politician or, even, a nephew!! Or you have to be a hardcore bully, able to terrorize the government officials, the communities and all other around you. Examples are evident in the politics of Gilgit – city! The nationalists or other ideological politicians and activists have narrow chances, if any.In this scenario the need for all political workers, their managers and party leaders is to focus on creation of a leadership cadre where nor the lineage and wealth get prioritized, nor the sectarian bullying and affiliations. Abilities of judgment, planning, organization, communication and mobilization shall be counted as the fundamental requirements for the leaders. The ethics of honesty, generosity, active mindedness – not only open mindedness, compassion and sacrifice shall serve as the guiding principles of the leaders.If the nationalist or federalist parties work hard to create such a cadre of leaders, despite of all odds that surely would come, the voice for rights of Gilgit-Baltistan; of independence from inequality, sectarianism, militancy, ignorance, poverty and corruption can become more powerful and more effective, otherwise we will just be shrieking in the deserts and getting charmed by hearing them back! What we, the common people, are looking at is independence from all the hurdles that limit human choices, inhibit human capacities and enslave human beings in the chains of class, creed, religious dogmatism and other social evils.Our fight shall not be only for gaining power for the ruling elite, or adding a few more new faces to the group of rulers. Our fight shall be for the common people and that requires obtaining power for the common people, not for their rulers! We shall look at independence not only in political terms; we shall also understand and strive for obtaining the independence beyond political power.

Youth ignorance turns

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Youth ignorance turnsdevelopment meaningless
By Tika Khan
It has been said that we do not bequeath our communities to our children rather we borrow our communities from them. From the perspective, no group has a greater stake in sustainable communities than the youth. Youth development initiatives around the world have a very wide impact, since what affects young people eventually affects the wider community. None of the organizations in the Northern Areas possesses any kind of youth database, which could be a fantastic resource to help establish an organized regional approach to youth development.Absence of such a data reflects completely ignorance in this respect which is an unhealthy sign in entire developmental paradigm. While moving around in the urbanized and semi urbanized geographies including remote villages, young people are seen wearing ear rings, French cuts, hair ponies, half shaves, torn jeans, rags, skin tied James Bond’s or resellers painted shirts etc. are all borrowed styles or gifted by the non-directional media giants.Uncensored television programmes have posed a threat to the socio-cultural identities of smaller and under developed cultures. Parents and youth need awareness and education on strengths and negatives of media equally to avoid downbeat effects. Drug abuse can never be excluded from the discussion that has serious consequences across the board. Interviews with the occasional and regular youth smokers across Northern Areas show that they have started smoking in ignorance and they are not aware of the injurious effects of cigarettes. Government of Pakistan for several times imposed ban on smoking in public spheres but due to non specific guidelines, law enforcing agencies are unable to implement the decision. These decisions show how much government leadership is serious in their high sounding political rhetoric.Though government can neither accommodate all youth against limited employment opportunities nor can ensure drug abuses including smoking simply through political sloganeering. Public private partnerships can increase the impact in this regard. Practical steps focused on tangible outcomes are prerequisite to educate, aware and redirect youth on the developmental trek. Lack of any skill development and technical centre across Northern Areas deprives youth in accessing job market.Boy scouts and girl guides movements are another option that can contribute effectively in training, imparting skills and keeping them away from unhealthy activities. Governmental support at provincial level will encourage this kind of youth movements to engage youth in society building. Northern Areas Boy Scouts Association-NABSA is fairly effective but need further support. Girl guides movement is neglected organization which equally requires attention by the government line departments. In absence of such organizations, myopia political and religious backed headship will use for vested interest and sectarian extremism.Skillfulness promotes equity and oligopoly in the society, whereby in absence, monopoly dominates. Monopoly divides society between ‘Haves & Have Nots’, creating an imbalance resulting in unrest. Creation of a skill development centre in the Northern Areas will help to fill the gap and brushing out the ignorance slightly.Several other civil society institutions working on youth issues including Aga Khan Youth & Sports Boards and Aga Khan Economic Planning Boards should come forward for public private partnerships and should work across geographical, cultural and religious boundaries to benefit youth, sharing with them the best practices and experiences they have. Public sphere, political and religious leadership must encourage and help them in streamlining our natural capital and the most important section of our society towards future leadership. Youth exchange programmes, UN youth assembly and national youth forum are good steps towards making youth a valued citizen.

Tributes paid to Ghazi Anwar Shaheed

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
Tributes paid to Ghazi Anwar Shaheed
GILGIT: A memorial reference in connection with the martyrdom of Ghazi Anwar Shaheed, leader Karakurm National Movement (KNM), was organized in Gilgit Press Club.The program was presided over by father of the martyr Ali Aman while a large number of people and nationalist leaders of KNM, KSO and Gilgit Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA) were also present. The program started with recitation from the Holy Quran. The central leader of KNM Mumtaz Hussain Nagri paid tributes to the shaheed and said whatever Ghazai Anwar has done no common man can do it and people die for there personal gains but he died for the national cause. He urged the gathering to get united for the national cause.Dr Habib Younis said we are dwelling in the chains of slavery for 61 years but Ghazi Anwar gave the message not to live silently under the chain and said he may not be with us physically but he is always with us in our fight for the national cause. He is with us in our philosophies and ideologies contributing continually to our movement.Wazir Shafe Advocate, leader Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Allianc (GBDA), said individual can be shot dead, imprisoned and tortured but the ideology of Ghazi Anwar can neither be suppressed nor shot dead or imprisoned. He said we should act on the ideologies of Ghazi Anwar and continue our struggle in the light of his philosophy.Leader of Hunza Progressive Youth Front Baba Jan said independence is not gained by idol bodies we should embed a revolutionary soul into the bodies of living idols. Afsar Jan Watanyar, brother of the shaheed, and Secertry Of Karakurm National Movement, said even though Ghazi Anwar is not present with us physically but he is present in the very steps of our movement.He said he is alive in our thoughts and hearts and will remain alive in our thoughts and actions in the future. “Ghazi Anwar had his political grooming from his home and since childhood he was against national suppression and this is the reason that he gave away his life for the nation,” he added.—Our Reporter

The Gilgit-Baltistan dilemma

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday November 29——–December 5, 2008
The Gilgit-Baltistan dilemma
By Mehdi Akmal

Sixty years have lapsed since Balawaristan gained independence from the maharaja of Kashmir and acceded to Pakistan. In these 61 years Pakistani rulers chained the region through a worst colonial system either in the name of ideology of Pakistan or referring the region sometimes as sensitive area or disputed territory.The masses of Balawaristan had pined so much hope on the Pakistani rulers but nothing changed for good in the last sixty one years and the capitalist, feudal and the military and civil establishment’s anti masses policies turned all hopes of the people to fear. Before coming to the Pakistani control, the region was self-sufficient economically but after acceding to Pakistan the region was made financially handicapped and today ninety percent of the population is deprived of basic health facilities and more than seventy percent has no access to clean drinking water. More than two lac youth of the region are jobless and each passing year adds to this number.The reason is not that the region lacks resources but that Pakistani ruler’s don’t allow the masses to get benefits from the available resources due to which the region is plunged into a darkness of social, economic and political miseries. More than 16 places of the region have gold mines more than any part of the world and an equal number of valleys are said to be hotbed of minerals and gem stones due to which the region is said to be worlds riches area regarding minerals besides the rivers flowing in the region have a capacity to provide more than forty thousand mega watt electricity every day.Bringing to use these available resources the region can become the richest regions in the world but Pakistani establishment has never allowed the people to se this natural resources and failed to propose a sound economic policy for the region which has resulted in the poor living standard of the region. The current economic social and political policies have given an indication that the rulers don’t want the region to be developed but there sole motto is to make personal wealth by depriving the people of the very legitimized rights over there natural resources. Keeping these conditions in view, Balawaristan National Front believes in the power of public and development through developing the working class by establishing a democratic government where can be run by the elected representatives of the working class. Cheap provision of education by providing the education up to universities free of coast and proving every citizen with all the basic facilities and replacing the current judicial system with a free of coast and quick justice.All this is possible only when all the peoples of the region get united to struggle for there rights through a single platform which at the moment is Balawaristan National Front.
An overview of NALA:
The largest institution established at northern areas levels which passed through different stages and is names as northern ares legislative assembly today has done nothing for the region. Without doubt, this assembly was facing a lot of problems when established and the members had ledged and vowed to grant constitutional status of the region besides making other false promises of economic up lift of the region but challenges were not faced nor even looked at for a light time. Soon after coming to being, the assembly announced that it will provide relief for the debtors of agricultural bank and told the debtors not to return their loans but nothing positive was done in this regard and today the debtors are under the heavy weight of the debit along with the profit and fine for not paying the loans in due time and now when the mass protests against the profit and neither members of the legislative assembly don’t bother to utter a single word.Keeping in mind the poverty and backwardness of the region got servants were given 25percent special alliance but it too has been eliminated for unknown reasons and legislative assembly is silent like before in this case too. Another allowance of 450 was granting to the servants of Gilgt Baltistan like that of Balochistan but that too was eliminated and the legislative assembly have no reasons or explanations for this like every time. No government has banned recruitment for jobs and the PPP government is boosting of its job opportunities but Gilgit Baltistan is the only region in the country where there is a ban on job recruitment adding squarely to the miseries of the people and the assembly on this issue has done nothing.The admission of students of Giglt Baltistan are banned in universities of other parts of the country due to which the future of thousands of youth from the region is at stake but in the only university if the region people from every corner of the country are allowed to get admission and still the assembly has never debated on this issue in its sessions. A local force with the name of northern scouts was established in the region and it was the sole right of the people dwelling in Gilgit Baltistan but like other institutions this too is over populated with non non-locals and heart ranching is the fact that no one from Gilgit Baltistan is given any senior post of officer rank except junior commissioned officers and javans.Despite having its assembly adjacent to the headquarters of the above mentioned force the assembly has no knowledge o the on going scenario. All through the country the system of monitoring was initiated right after the end of dictatorship but this monitoring system has no name in the region and due to lack of check and balance the heavy budget granted for developmental projects goes into the pockets of servants of work department and the contractors but no one bothers to ask them. Some years ago the construction of konodas RCC Bridge was given to a non-local contractor but no work has been done on it till the present and no body has bothered to question the delay.So this assembly has played the role of a dumb, duff and blind organization elected only to get its salary in the 5th of every month. Joint report by Ghulam Qadir & Muhabat Ali Qaisar

bang, Issue–20

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar —–Volum-02, Issue- 18


CE’s diatribe on Diamer Dam

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
(Editorial)
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 removal

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
Hurdles created for rally slammed
Bureau Report
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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.

Diamer Dam

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
Diamer Dam
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 security

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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 in

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008‘
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.

‘Opportunists’ warned

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
‘Opportunists’ warned
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 15—-November 21, 2008

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’’

Bang issue-18

UN should implement its resolutions


UN should implement its resolutions

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8——-November 14, 2008
(Editorial)
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.

Why GB is still under martial law? BNF chief

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8——-November 14, 2008
Why GB is still under martial law? BNF chief
Bang-e-Sahar Report
GILGIT: Chairman Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Abdul Hamid Khan has regretted that despite formation of a democratic government in Pakistan people in Gilgit-Baltistan were still under the siege of martial law. There is no restriction on political gatherings in Pakistan but people coming from Diamer, Astore, Hunza, Nagar and Ghizer districts to participate in a rally of Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA) were not allowed to enter the Gilgit city on the directive of an army colonel. We are of the view that the PPP government is helpless and even today vital decisions are taken in the GHQ.During his telephonic addresses to public gatherings at Gilgit, Lahore and Rawalpindi on the occasion of the 61st anniversary of the only 15-day-long independence of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr Khan said, “I want to tell the Government of Pakistan and its Army not to compel the people of the region to go for options other than the peaceful struggle by dismantling the peaceful environ of the region and stop at once the usurpation of our political, democratic, human and economic rights.”The BNF chairman said this land belongs to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and its plundering by non-locals should come to an immediate halt. Moreover, the lands that have been allocated to outsiders after 1947 should be returned to their actual owners. After looting the lower lands Pakistanis have now started to occupy our mountains with the aid of China which too should come to a halt. The BNF chief said the government of Pakistan is making its last unsuccessful attempt in Gilgit-Baltistan. Now they see Gilgit-Baltistan as getting out of their hands due to which as a last option they want this land to go in the hands of China. This is the reason that our land is granted to China in the name of various leases. A similar attempt was foiled by the people of Yasen-Gandai and we are proud of them. Only with confidence we can defeat our enemies. It gives me immense pleasure to see my people coming out of the old sea of unconsciousness and I am hopeful that our people will defeat plans of conquering our water and stop the construction of Diamer, Skardu and Bounji dams. He maintained.I want to request you to discourage people trying to divide us under the names of Gilgiti, Balti, Shain-Yashkun and Shia-Sunni. Now we neither ask for a province nor so-called rights under which we have been hoodwinked for the last over six decades. He said Pakistan has deprived us of the rights of self-rule and all basic human rights. Pakistan deprived us of justice, right to speech and also conquered our land, water and air. Pakistan has violated the state subject role and it is destroying our culture and tradition. Pakistan has put our land literally under siege by rendering it at times part of Kashmir and at times a sensitive region.Brothers and sisters, our struggle is not against anybody because like other nations of the world we too have the right to freedom which is the basic right of every nation irrespective of belief, religion, caste and race. “My friends in GBDA, my brothers, sisters, activists of BNSO and respected audience, do convey my regards and wishes to brothers and sisters of my motherland who are not present here due to any reason and my dear audience I feel proud to address you after a lapse of ten years and this as an honor for me.”Respected audience, today we are celebrating our shortest independence of 1947. The day when the bravest people of this land started a struggle for independence which was abolished just in 16 days and the day of 16th November, 1947 proved to be ‘a spring of the desert’ the dire consequences of which we are facing till today. Today it’s need of the hour that we should not repeat the blunders of the past and time demands too that we make ourselves aware of the changes taking place in our surrounding and make an intimate analysis, so that we play our due role in joining our current and forthcoming generations like the civilized and respected nations of the world so that our coming generations may feel proud of us and proud of themselves too.”Let me assure you that today we are not far from our goal. Today our destination is not far away, the indications of which are clear from the occupiers and so-called ‘masters’ of our motherland.” Mr Khan said Gilgit-Baltistan is practically under martial law since 1971 when the former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gave employments to metric pass unemployed youth on the one hand and appointed non-locals on administrative positions on the other besides assaulting on the very basis of the state subject rule and the United Nations resolutions. Setting up various departments in Gilgit-Baltistan was not the result of a soft corner for the region or any sympathies with the people but it was meant to strengthen Pakistan’s control on the region by slavering the people, depriving them of there rights gradually which was a part of a conspiracy. This was the very reason that Gilgit Scouts, Northern Scouts and Karakurum Scouts were demolished and replaced by Northern Light Infantry (NLI) which then was made a subordinate of the army after which more than 3,000 youths of NLI were termed jihadists and butchered in Kargil just for the sake of a mere ill-willed plan of the Pakistan Army. After the Kargil war, he added, they not only weakened the NLI to fight on mountains by sending them to barracks in various parts of the country but also recruited Pathans, Punjabis and other nationals to turn the local population in NLI into a minority because the Pakistan Army was haunted by the fierce bravery of NLI at the Kargil front. The promotion of locals in NLI has been stopped and people from other parts of Pakistan are given priority despite the fact that the youth from Gilgit-Baltistan have been sent to the frontlines in the troubled parts of Balochistan and Swat, he added.Brothers and sisters, our independence is not against anybody because like other nations of the world our nation too has the right of independence. Independence is the basic right of every nation no matter whatever he/she believes in, whatever religion he/she has and whatever caste and race he/she belongs to. Same as Pakistan, India, China, Iran etc are called independent nations.

Pakistan, India asked to

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8——-November 14, 2008
Pakistan, India asked toleave GB & Kashmir
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance has asked both India and Pakistan to withdraw their military and civilian administration officials from Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in accordance with the UN resolutions.”On completion of 61 years of the revolution of Gilgit-Baltistan, we vehemently demand that the government of Pakistanshould withdraw its civilian and military colonial administration from the region. We also demand India to withdraw its troops from Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kargil. For the completion of our natural national state of Gilgit-Baltistan, we demand an end to the rule by NWFP in our segregated units such as Shinaki Kohistan and Chitral. These areasshould be given back to Gilgit-Baltistan. We also demand that Pakistan should cease deceiving comity of nations and local people regarding the flagrant violation of human rights in Gilgit-Baltistan. We reject the 2007 reform package of General Musharaf as a hoax.” We strongly feel that it is high time to bring the people of Gilgit-Baltistan at a par with other nations by getting rid of colonial forces. After that an autonomous government and constitutional assembly ought to be established which will be responsible for formulating a constitution for the region. Judiciary, executive and legislature will work within its parameters. By doing so, the indigenous people can run the affairs of the state through their elected representatives. It willhelp end the 61 years of grievances of the region. The government of Pakistan should end the usurpation of the rivers, mountains and jungles of Gilgit-Baltistan.The right of using local resources should be given to local people, and illegitimate and unconstitutional construction of Diamer/Bhasha Dam should be halted, especially in wake of absence of a local authority to safeguard interests of the local. Furthermore, NWFP must immediately vacate the UN discussed disputed region of Chilas up tol Sazeen. The provincial government of NWFP should refrain from creating tension by making Shandur controversial. In addition, it should also end the usurpation of the area till Banday Sazeen and the area should be included in Gilgit-Baltistan. According to maps in the resolution of UN in 1947, this area is a part of Gilgit-Baltistan. All the land routes to Ladakh, Kargil and Kashmir should be opened. Likewise traditional routes to Wakhan and Central Asia ought to be opened. Although Gilgit-Baltistan does not have representation in the National Assembly and Senate, the government of Pakistan charges direct and indirect taxes from our people. This is against International Law, which clearly states that ‘no taxation without representation’. We demand abolishment of all kinds of taxes. We still consider the State Subject Rule of Maharaja Kashmir era valid. According to this rule, no non-local can take up permanent residence and acquire property in Gilgit-Baltistan.The State Subject rule should be implemented and the world accepted disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistann should be brought at par with other disputed regions. Civil and military bureaucracy should cease its policy of dividing people by fomenting sectarian andethic strife. The bureaucracy has inherited this policy from its colonial masters. This is an obnoxious policy to maintain status quo.The usurpation of local land by multinationals should be halted as government of Pakistan is not entitled to sign an agreement regarding the use of local recourses by another country, or person. In this context, over 2,000 leases allocated to non-locals should be cancelled. In accordance with the government of Pakistan and world-accepted UN resolutions on the subject, the local authority at Gilgit is responsible for its own defence and running administrative affairs. The Northern Light Infantry Regiments taken away from the region after Kargil episode should be brought back and reconstituted consisting of 100% locals. The foreign elements in Northern Areas Scouts should be eliminated and Northern Scouts, Karakorum Scouts and Gilgit Scouts should be re-established.

BNSO Lahore Culture Show

BNSO holds seminar on ‘‘Are we independent’’

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8——-November 14, 2008
BNSO holds seminar on ‘‘Are we independent’’
By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD: The Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO) Rawalpindi-Islamabad organized a seminar titled “Are we independent” at a hall in Rawalpindi. People from all walks of life attended the seminar.BNSO Rawalpindi-Islamabad chapter president Mehdi Ali welcomed the participants.Nationalist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir including Sardar Ishtiaq Hussain, secretary general UKPNP, Sardar Sabir Ali Kashmiri, secretary general All Parties National Alliance in their speeches hailed the services of chairman BNF Abdul Hamid Khan.Ishtiaq Hussain said the UKPNP had always supported the demand for independence of Gilgit-Baltistan and from now onwards it would expedite its support to the demand. Former APN president Wajahat Hussain said the usurpers had snatched our freedom and were hell-bent on denying basic rights to us.Chairman BNF Abdul Hamid Khan also addressed the gathering from Brussels and paid tributes to the youth of the region for their struggle for attaining their rights. He criticized the government for stopping people from attending the GBDA public meeting at Gilgit on November 1. He asked the youth to shun petty differences to attain the rights. He said the day was not far away when we will get our rights and become an independent nation of the world.Former spokesman BNF and young nationalist leader Engineer Shafqat Inqilabi in his typical style slammed the bureaucracy, military and outsiders for the over 60-year-lond deprivation and injustices in Gilgit-Baltistan. Comaparing the political, social, economic and educational situation in Indian held Kashmir, Pakistani held Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan though facts and figures, he termed Gilgit-Baltistan the only colony of the 21st century. Tracing history from 1947 to 2008, he said Gilgit-Baltistan due to its geography had always been a hotbed of world conspiraciesLater, through resolutions the students warned the government of Pakistan against any further delay in withdrawing all outsiders including its forces, bureaucracy and civilians from Gilgit-Baltistan who are staying in the region in violation of the State Subject Rule and the UNCIP resolution.It also demanded that Pakistan should cancel allotment of land in the region to outsiders since 1963. They said the plundering of the resources of Balawaristan (Gilgit-Baltistan) in the name of leasing should be stopped forewith because under the international laws the region is a disputed one. They termed the opening of trade routes between Srinagar, Muzaffarabad and Rawlakot a good omen. However, they also demanded that the process should be extended to Gilgit-Baltistan and the Astore-Srinagar and Skaru-Kargil routes should also be opened without delay. Moreover, the region should also be linked to the Central Asian state of Tajikistan because these all are our historical trade routes.”This gathering extends its gratitude to the European Parliament, especially Ms Emma Nickolson and other members, for passing a resolution with a majority on the issue of Kashmir and the deprivation of Gilgit-Baltistan.” The participants said Gilgit-Baltistan was a crucial party to the issue of Kashmir and the representatives of the region particularly the nationalist parties should be taken into confidence and on board in all talks and decisions regarding the dispute. Otherwise we would not accept any decision on the issue in future.It was also demanded that the campuses of the Karakoram University should be set up in all the seven districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. Besides, engineering, medical and other professional colleges and institutions should be established in all parts of the area.It was also pointed out that the
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.

Time to stand up: KSO

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8——-November 14, 2008

Time to stand up: KSO
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 for

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8———-November14, 2008
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 dream

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8———-November14, 2008
Postgraduate college still a pipe dreamin Chitral
By Zahiruddin
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

Fundamental Rights Commission of Pakistan workers holding a rally

The flowers bleed, the colors scream and the fragrance weeps

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8———-November14, 2008
The flowers bleed, the colors scream and the fragrance weeps
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 Chitral

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8———-November14, 2008
$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.

Devaluing humanity

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8———-November14, 2008
Devaluing humanity
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

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, November 8———-November14, 2008
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.

Bang issue-17

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

Trans-LoC trade — why not in Gilgit, Baltistan?


Trans-LoC trade — why not in Gilgit, Baltistan?

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
(Editorial)
Trans-LoC trade — why not in Gilgit, Baltistan?
On October 21, the trans-LoC trade between the divided Kashmir went into effect and there was exchange of about 21 items. Due to the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir since 1947, not only trade between the two countries remained suspended but also movement of people between the two parts of Kashmir as well as Pakistan and India had to suffer a lot. Had the two countries continued trade across the border and the LoC, people on either part of the divide would get daily-use items on much lower rates. But the war-like situation in the subcontinent has made it impossible for the two nations to continue bilateral trade. After 9/11, the world began to change and Pakistan and India also felt the pressure of the international community to resolve their issues through dialogues. As a result, Musharraf had to go to India and shake hands with then prime minister Vajpayee. This led to the composite dialogue process between the tow archrivals and leading to a number of CBMs.Travel facilities at the Wagah border increased followed by exchange of political, cultural and trade delegations. Besides, the two countries also increased the number of visas to each other’s citizens. Pakistan started exporting morev items like cement etc to India and received paper and sugar from India. The world has become a global village and the current century is also called the century of economy. The major countries of the world are seeking markets for their goods while the developing nations are in search of goods on cheap rates. In such an atmosphere, the launch of trade route between India and Pakistan becomes a need of the hour. India has always desired that Pakistan should give it the status of a most favourite nation in trade, while Pakistan ahs its own compulsion to accept the demand. After many hurdles, a bus route was opened between the two divided parts of Kashmir in 2005 and two border points were also opened to facilitate the people cross into each territory.After the October 8, 2005 earthquake two more points were opened. But these steps could not end the worries of the residents of both the sides and efforts continued to initiate trans-border trade. However, people living on both sides of the border in Kashmir got some facilities. It is to be noted here that Gilgit-Baltistan, a vital part of the Kashmir issue, was ignored in all these measures. Now when trade has started between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad along with the bus service, the people of Kargil-Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan remain devoid of all such facilities though many parts of Kashmir had trade relations between the areas forming today’s Pakistan and India even before the partition of the subcontinent. However, Gilgit-Baltistan had since long trade links between Kashmir and the Central Asian states. Leave alone Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan had had no trade links with any part of the subcontinent even in the distant past.On the one hand the people of gilgit-Baltistan are being hoodwinked about the Tajikistan route project and on the other it is being repeated that with the normalization of relations between the two countries the Baltistan-Astore to Kargil-Ladakh route would be opened. However, this time too this project has been ignored. Now the local people think whether India or Pakistan is responsible for keeping these projects in the backburner. In 2006, a delegation from Gilgit-Baltistan went to New Dehli and met the Indian officials and discussed the Kargil-Ladakh route project. It transpired that India was ready to open the route and blamed Pakistan for the delay considering it a sensitive matter. What the people of the region should do. Pakistan says that if we give the people more than what they are getting at present, the issue of Kashmir would be affected. Now when trans-border trade with India has begun, the silence over opening of Gilgit-Baltistan routes may lead to many questions.We remember that soon after the AKargil war, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Pervez Musharraf during their Skardu visit had told the locals that due to the sacrifices of the NLI, Kashmir has become an international issue. It is strange that when it comes to sacrifice, we are made the scapegoat but when it comes to take some benefit we are made to remain a silent spectator. We appeal to both the governments to immediately open all the old trade route between Kargil-Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan otherwise it would create more unrest in the region and the people would be compelled to take to the streets to achieve their rights and fight against the injustices.

Monitoring cells, bureaucracy accused of corruption

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
Monitoring cells, bureaucracy accused of corruption
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The information secretary of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Gilgit-Baltistan chapter has alleged that the army monitoring cells and the civil bureaucracy are hands in gloves in corrupt practices in the region.Talking to the correspondent of Bang-e-Sahar here, Rana Mohammad Nazim Khan said army officers had been withdrawn from all government and semi-government organizations in the country but they still remained posted in Gilgit-Baltistan which was an injustice with the region.He said the withdrawal of army personnel from government and private institutions of the region should be carried out immediately. He said it was strange that despite the directives of the army chief and the prime minister in this regard, the armymen were still posted in the region.He also said that the very basic reason and the hands behind corruption in Gilgit-Baltistan are army monitoring cells and the civil bureaucracy due to which the PPP government was getting a bad name for nothing. He said elimination of corruption from each and every department in the region on a permanent basis was indispensable and his party would do whatever was in the best interest of the people.He said there should also be a ban on the appointment of contractual workers. The PPP leader also said that retired military personnel should not be given jobs in any organization as it deprived the deserving youth of their rights and resulted in increase in the ratio of unemployment. He regretted that the announcement of increase in the salaries of lower officials by the prime minister was still not implemented in the region. “As the current government is a public, democratic government it has actively involved itself in granting relief to the masses all over the country,” he said, adding the government will eliminate poverty from Gilgit-Baltistan through the Benazir Income Support Program and the people of this region will get maxim benefits.He said all-out efforts would be made to give relief to the masses which are hard-hit due to high inflation rate.

Tributes paid to BNF leaders

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
Tributes paid to BNF leaders
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The Balawaristan National Front (BNF) has successfully presented the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan in the international forum seeking a separate status for the region based on its unique geo-political, cultural, socio-economic and historical significance.This was stated at a meeting of BNF leaders held at its central secretariat. Those who spoke on the occasion included Mohammad Rafiq, Haider Shah Rizvi, Safdar Ali, Burhanullah, Mohammad Shafi Advocate, Ali Haider Taj and Mohammad Essa.They said that the proof of this fact was the recent participation of nationalist leaders of Balawaristan including the BNF chairman Abdul Hamid Khan at the 9th session of the UN human rights commission in Geneva.These leaders while representing the people of Gilgit-Baltistan asked the international community to ensure the separate identity of the region and end colonialism in the area. They also demanded that the world body should play its due role in establishing a representative government in the area in accordance with the wishes of the local people.It may be noted that another son of the soil, Wajahat Hassan also attended the session and both the leaders made it clear to the world that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were not a sub-tribe of Kahmir, India or Pakistan but were a separate nation with their own unique culture rich languages like Shena, Balti, Brushushki, Khowar, Wakhi and many other dialects.These people having their own identity and cultures live in an area which itself has geo-political significance in the region. As such, the issue here is not to restore any sardari system or the one based on religion, etc., but to ensure a democratic system based on the universal principles of democracy.They also called upon the masses to forge unity in order to bolster the ongoing struggle for attainment of all basic rights for the region.

BNSO unit opened at Astore

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008

BNSO unit opened at Astore
By Our Correspondent
ASTORE: After reorganizing in other parts of the region, the Balawaristan National Students Organization has set up its unit in Asore.In this regard, a meeting was held at a local hotel which was attended by BNF and BNSO leaders as well as a large number of local people, student representatives and media persons.The participants termed the establishment of the BNSO unit in Asore a step in a right direction, adding the slogan of the BNF was the last hope of the people of the region who were determined to support the party in its struggle for attainment of the rights of the area.Speaking on the occasion, former chairman BNSO Khwaja Sharif said the setting of the BNSO unit in the area would have far-reaching effects on the polity of the region. He said Astore had played a significant role in the freedom movement also.Former chairman union council and nationalist leader Abdul razzaq welcomed the BNF leaders to Astore and said every child of Astore was a nationalist and the local people would play a crucial role in the struggle for the political freedom of the region. Central spokesman BNSO Haider Abbas apprised the students of the objectives of the body and said the students should also study the history, geography and cultures of the region.BNF leader and GBDA general secretary Burhanullah said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were still enslaved by outsiders. We are being divided on the basis of sectarianism and regionalism. Therefore, we should forge unity among ourselves to ensure our rights. Spokesman of APNA Wazir Shafi advocate said the establishment of the BNSO unit in Astore was a historical step. He said under a conspiracy, the youth of the region were being hired in the army and mujahid force as sepoy so that the doors of education could be closed on them.

Conspiracy to divide people will fail, says GBUM

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
Conspiracy to divide people will fail, says GBUM
By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: The conspiracies to divide Gilgit-Baltistan would be foiled and pressure would be mounted on both India and Pakistan to open the Kargil-Ladakh- Gilgit-Baltistan routes.This was stated by Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement chairman Manzoor Hussain Parwana, general secretary Ghulam Shehzad Agha and joint secretary Ismail Zia while addressing the party workers.Thye said efforts would also be made to compel India and Pakistan to withdraw their forces and other officials from Kargil-Ladakh and Gilgit Baltsitan.We will also give an impetus to the ongoing struggle for attainment of basic rights of the region, they declared.They said the rulers had been trying their level best to divide the people of the region by dividing them on the sectarian basis and perpetuate their rule. They asked the people of the region to rise above petty issues and forge unity in their ranks to foil the designs of the rulers and get their due rights.They said the main objective of their party was to take out the people from strife and make them a united nation and identity. When Pashtoons, Baloch, Sindhis and Punjabis identify themselves on the basis of their nationalities, why not the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who are a distinct people in all aspect. They said a specific coterie of people were out to divide the people of the region on petty issues, so that they cannot rise to fight for their rights.They asked the local government officials to keep a close vigil on such elements and safeguard the interest of the region.

KIU students protest

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
KIU students protestfee hike
By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The students of Karakoram International University (KIU) staged a protest demonstration against the management’s decision to raise fees by 50 per cent here on Wednesday.Belonging to various faculties including management sciences, education and English, the students boycotted classes and came out on the main campus chanting slogans against the vice-chancellor Dr Aziz Ali Najam and asking him to withdraw the decision.”There were more than 150 students who took part in the protest while students from many other departments were stopped by their teachers from joining the protesters,” said an eyewitness.The protest demonstration continued for hours after which the management officials came to the spot and promised to the students that the decision would be reviewed in one week.After this, the students dispersed peacefully. However, they warned the management that they would restart their protest if their demand was not met within the deadline.Uplift projects: The Northern Areas Development Working Committee will meet on October 28 to approve uplift projects.Abdul Star, the secretary planning, said a number of projects were included in the agenda which would be discussed and approved.

Face of man accused of women trafficking blackened

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008

Chitral: People belonging to all walks of life in Chitral have condemned a resident of Bakarabad for his alleged involvement in women trafficking. The local people also alleged that Mhmoor had been selling innocent girls aged between 13 and 18 years to old aged people from down districts after getting huge amount from them under the pretext of arranging marriage. The local residents and workers of Anjuman Dawat Azeemat beat him up and blackened his face and paraded him in the bazaar. He was later handed over to police who registered an FIR against him under women trafficking case. The police also lodged a cross-FIR on the complaint of Mahmoor and arrested two members of Dawat Azeemat for attacking him. As a result, hundreds of students of different colleges, members of the said NGO and trade unions protested against the arrest of the two members of the NGO who were produced in a civil court in presence of hundreds of students. The angry protesters also chanted slogans against police and demanded action against the administration and transfer of the DPO. The police refused to provide any comments on the issue.—Chitral Update

The weather peacocks of politics

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008

Islamabad: Looking at the current political scenario of Gilgit Baltistan one would come to the conclusion that no political party has an apparent majority and never has any political party got a majority in the region ever since early seventies. But still the political cyclones emerging in the corridors of power in Islamabad affect the four provinces later than Gilgit-Baltistan. In every election, the political bigwigs contest with a different party despite knowing the fact that the political parties gain nothing from their victory or loss.In the early seventies when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto brought about reforms in the region in order to sabotage the nationalist movements gaining ground, almost 90% political bigwigs of the local political theatre joined the Pakistan Peoples Party; this era continued for a long time with political bigwigs chanting the then popular public slogan of roti, kapra aur makan till the dictator of the day Genral Ziaul Haq imposed martial law.During the Zia regime the echoes of roti, kapra aur makan suddenly vanished and the diehard ‘jiyallas’ of Gilgit Baltistan were seen chanting slogans of Mard-e-Momin Mard-e-Haq (the slogan of dictator of the day) and calling Bhutto a Kafir (infidel).It was during this era that Zia’s Lashkars sowed the seed of sectarian menace in the region which till the present is haunting the region and its people which was started by a ruthless massacre of the Shias in Jalalabad. In 1985 when the darkest era of the country, the martial law came to an end and Muhammad Khan Junejo became the prime minister as a result of the non-party election; Muslim League was formed in Gilgit Baltistan in the darkness of the night.When fate somehow blessed the country and the dictator of the day vanished in the air and PPP won the 1988 elections with a clean sweep, the hard core Muslim League of Gilgit Baltistan once again shifted to take shelter under the umbrella of PPP and this went on till the election of 1991, when Nawaz Sharif won with a clear majority the second time ‘jiyalas’ of Gilgit Baltistan slept in the lap of Muslim League-N vowing pledges to their Mehbub Wazir-e-Azam (Beloved Prime Minister) and when the trend of “In the name of God” politics started in the country, the than PPP jiyalas adopted the slogans of Tehreek-e-Jaferia and the lovers of the “Beloved Prime Minister” went to Jamiat-e-Ullama Islam. It was in this era that the front line ‘jiyalla’ of Bhutto Mr.Fida Muhamad Nashad left PPP and joined Tehreek-e-Jafferia while another political heavy weight Mr. Pir Karam Ali Shah, known for his anti Bhutto activism in Zia regime joined PPP and was nominated as the provincial president of the party in Gilgit Baltistan. Hence came the drama, Air D’ Militia and General Pervaiz Musharaf took the reins of power.Even before the successful landing of his plane in Karachi all political parties in Gilgit Baltistan vanished and by the very next morning even the names of the political parties were forgotten and it seemed as if no political forces have existed in the region for centuries and then came the savoir of the day, the creator of Pakistan and the party of all parties PML-Q.All the scattered political chicks of Gilgit Baltistan were collected and dumped in the bin of PML-Q, after hazardous defeat of the party the chicks somehow managed to escape and chant slogans of self rule like the run a way’s of George Orwell’s Animal Farm but Senator Mr. Nisar Memon proved to be a good master and managed to lock them back in their cheek house successfully.As soon as the owner of the farm Mr.Pervaiz Musharaf left the political stage ‘for ever’ these political cheeks of Gilgit Baltistan got a natural reason to leave and the story ‘after the cheek house’ is that these political big wigs have once again started to take shelter under the PPP’s shade. Member Central Executive Committee, PML-Q Mr Imran Nadeem and the Musharraf obsessed Capt Sikander Ali have recently joined PPP. As it is said there is always a ray of hope the general public of Gilgit Baltistan are looking towards a new political leadership they believe will arise from God knows somewhere. Let’s see what the future has for the region.

Jafar Shah to get vital post in new setup

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
Jafar Shah to get vital post in new setup
By Our Correspondent
Islamabad: The top brass of the PPP has decided to give important posts to notable lawyer of Gilgit-Baltistan Sayed Jaffar Shah and the speaker of NALA (Northern Areas Legislative Asembly) Fida Muhammad Nashad in the soon-to-be-announced Azad Kashmir-type of setup for the region, a source said.At a meeting of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee presided by Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad recently, the political and constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan was thoroughly discussed and debated in which Sayed Jaffer Shah also participated. The ‘new setup’ will be announced before the 2009 elections for NALA before which either the current assembly will be dissolved or an interim government will be formed which will most probably start from March 2009. It has been decided to eliminate the seats of technocrats and replace them with general seats. Formation of new electoral roll in some districts is also expected to readjust the seats of technocrats.A close source in the party told this reporter that after the meeting PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari told Mr Jaffer Shah to be ready for an important post in the new setup. The source pointed to the possibility that it was due to ‘such a setup’ that the appointment of new judges in the appellate court was still postponing.When asked about the role of Malik Maskin, he said he himself can’t understand as he was neither present in that meeting nor he has any links with the top brass of the party. It should be noted that Malik Maskin contested the last elections as an independent candidate and later joined the PML-Q and remained the speaker of NALA.

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300 expelled for Chinese

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
300 expelled for Chinesenationals’ security
GILGIT: In a bid to provide security to Chinese workers at the Karakoram Highway, Northern Areas and Gilgit Police expelled 300 suspected people from the area and confiscated 450 non-customs paid vehicles, SP Gilgit Sher Ali said. The officer said the step had been taken to protect hundreds of Chinese workers and engineers undertaking development work at the highway from terrorism. Sources said that the action had been taken after two Chinese engineers were abducted from Swat valley. Giligit Police Superintendent Ali Sher further said only those people had been expelled who had neither a special order from the Home Department nor any identity documents. People having proof of registration cards, identity cards or passports can stay in Gilgit and adjacent areas, he added.—Our Correspondent

November 1, 1947 – the morning of independence

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
November 1, 1947 – the morning of independence
Translation of the hand written account of Col Mirza Hassan Khan, military Cross, Fakhar-i-Kashmir – Part-2
Early in the morning, with the emergence of the first ray of sun we reached Gilgit. Pakistan’s colonial bureaucracy celebrates this day every year as an “Independence Day”, because on this day all facilities were showered upon them. The flame of zeal and enthusiasm of Jehad which was motivating our hearts on that day was now providing warmth to their hearts in the shape of peace, luxuries and full autocratic powers. That day, when we reached Gilgit, people came out on the streets. They had spent a sleepless troubled night in a state of anxiety, because if Governor was not captured immediately then the Sikhs would come to Gilgit and thus Gilgit will be turned into a battlefield. They were right! They rushed towards me and I plunged towards the cantonment! Anyhow, I thoughtfully paused and turned towards them and counselled them that now nobody will come here; nobody.In the Scouts lines, Subedars Shah Sultan, Sultan Feroz, Fida Ali, Shah Khan and others were roaming here and there in a state of alert and happiness. But Babar and Haider were not visible anywhere. I came to know that they were with Brown and Mathieson in the Officers’ Mess. This was a strange modus operandi! – How revolutions can occur under the guidance of devils (Zeir Charagh e Gurdoon)? Babar and Haider who till yesterday used to infuriate me by stating their activities against themselves were again in league with them.USELESS MEETINGS AND FRUITLESS ACTIVITIESYeh ajab maza tha yaro kai beroze Eid e Qurban Wahi qatal bhi karae hai, wahi lay sawab ulta When I stormed into the mess, they came out of the door. This was a strange useless meet. They had pulled down faces with an unknown fear. Now, they were planning a scheme to burn the Governor along with his bungalow, so that… Na rahay bhans aur na bajay bhanseri! They had a fight with the Governor throughout the night but till now the Governor and his orderly were safe and sound (only two non-Muslim soldiers in Gilgit). On the other hand, two Scouts soldiers had lost their lives in this weak scheme. If instead of my Muslim company, the Sikhs would have come then the situation was worth imagining. I called up Raja Noor Ali, Afsar e Maal (Revenue officer) and Governor’s personal assistant Sehdev Singh, who were loitering in Gilgit in a demoralized manner. I sent them to the Governor with a written note. On the guarantee of life and honour, shortly white flags were waved from both sides and Governor gave himself up for surrender and Subedar Shah Sultan with a guard transferred him to another bungalow. This arrest happened exactly at 0900 hours. With effect from that time the Dogra raj’s sun had set.SHAHI POLO GROUND’S GATHERING AND RIGHT OF THE MINORITIESThe arrest of Governor was an arrest of a white elephant. On that day in the afternoon; the arrest of the English officers, which was conducted on my orders, was an arrest of the enemies of Pakistan, which kept some of my friends estranged from me permanently. But without this there was no other remedy. I was not ready to fall prey to anymore conspiracies. Now, there was no worth mentioning enemy outside. But, there was no dearth of many unimportant and creeping enemies, whom I was not afraid of. There was a huge gathering of people in the Shahi polo ground. They wanted to listen to the objectives and purposes of the Revolution “INQILAB”. At that time the national and religious fervour of them was touching the skies. Many of them were equipped with swords, axis and javelins. This was all the outcome of the fresh arrest of the Governor. Mare ko mare shah madar! Now, they were convinced about the usefulness of the revolution, about which a while ago they were of the opinion that this is a game of some desperados. The resolve to play with lives, turns some impossibles into possible. – Sabaq meila hai ye mairaj e Mustafa sai hamain kae alam e bashriat ki zad mein hai iflak. In a corner of this mammoth gathering, under the shadow of swords and axes, there were some shivering, wavering and dejected souls who were transfixed towards the utterances of this sinful soul, to know decisions about not only their fate but also their lives. Though, there were many horrible stories about cruelties of Hindus and Sikhs circulating at that time, but I had to say this in a very clear, firm and soldier like manner that the safety and well being of minorities was our national and religious obligation and we will not spare anyone, violating this principle. On hearing this, these very half alive people, came back into life and while saying “Inqilab zindabad”, started weeping and crying with joy. The Gilgit revolution was now even being praised by the enemy.INTERIM GOVERNMENTThe interim government formed on that day in wait for a representative govt never ever materialized. (Jis numainda hakumat kai intezar mein yei aburi hakumat banai thi, uski noabat phir kabhi nahi aai). In the scout lines all officers had assembled. Outside, the parade ground was teemingly filled up with the masses. My companions in this advisory or antagonistic meeting had brought along their English friends and in the formulation of the interim govt they were very actively giving their opinions. It seemed that everything was now again passing into their hands.The scout junior commissioned officers (JCOs) were inhibited to sense their ex English commandant, as their commandant even now! A majority of these poor were unaware about the existence of our military council. Now, the English wanted to bring forth such a man (mohra), on whom’s shoulder they wanted to put the gun and fire on me. If this was allowed to happen, then revolution would have died its own death and with that the writer also; alongwith Saeed and Haider. It was felt at that moment to quell this disturbance (fitna) then and there, even at the cost of internal infighting. I nominated my man Raja Shah Rais Khan as the president of the Islamic Republic at Gilgit, on which nobody picked up the guts to oppose.This paved our clear way. Captain Saeed Durrani, who was a determined companion of mine was uptill now in Misgar ( China border). I extremely felt his need. After this president Raha Shah Rais Khan proposed my name as the commander of the revolutionary force and supervisor (Nehgeban-e- Inqilabi) of the revolutionary council and everyone accepted it with one voice. Then, Captain Saeed Durrani was nominated as my deputy commander. I appointed lieutenant Haider as the administrator, Babar as quartermaster and Hameed as the Police chief. Now, the interim govt was formed, which was very appropriate in those circumstances.Taameer e nisheman kai liyae jab bhi uthay hein Tinkoon ki jaga hamne shiraroon ko chuna hai Astonishingly, some of my loyals also proposed the names of Major Brown and Captain Matheison to be appointed as my advisors. To keep their hearts, I accepted the proposal till the dispersal of that meeting and dictated to them a wireless message to be sent to Pakistan, asking for a liaison officer to help in administration. Just after this meeting, these two aliens were put under custody in their bungalows and those very scouts were put on guard at them who till that very morning were obeying their orders. The announcement of the interim govt was heard by the thousands of people who had gathered outside in the parade ground. Joy, zeal and enthusiasm was now at its peak. People were fully ready to participate in Jehad. Our people, whether they belong to Karachi or Peshawar, Gilgit or Lahore are ready to do anything by riding on a motivational wave. Alas! If there was someone to obtain some creative work out of them. At that time, this very sentiment of self-sacrifice and sincerity was brought on by Quaid-e-Azam. On 2nd November 1947, in accordance with the deception message sent to the Muslim officers at Bunji, they came towards Gilgit to attend Governor’s conference. They were taken into custody by Subedar Saifullah Baig as planned and were brought to Gilgit. They were even now not ready to side with us and were aiming at the situation to change.Note: Colonel Mirza Hassan Khan, MC, FK was a diehard Muslim and a dedicated follower of Ahle Bait (A.S). He was a revolutionary, soldier, practical politician, visionary intellectual, poet, writer, orator and a good administrator as well as a bureaucrat. He had a good idea of conspiracies and circumstances but did not exactly know the depth and true nature of the evil designs because of his love for Islam, liberation of Kashmir and Pakistan. The governments of Pakistan and the other governments and institutions of the world having nefarious designs on Gilgit Baltistan, tried their level best to erase his name from the annals of history to snatch geography. Fortunately, to counter these designs, a very thorough and deep research was carried out and full proofs of all these futile efforts have been exposed.

world call Polo

Why a soft heart for Pakistan?

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
Why a soft heart for Pakistan?
By Shafqat Ali Inqalabi
The day of “self determination” was observed in the Pakistani occupied Kashmir on October 14 along with many metropolitans full with the ever repeated lengthy speeches and a cacophony of meaningless clichés in the newspapers that impress nobody.The evening, viewing the day’s broadcast on television channels was a mixture of anxiety and fun; the ‘senseless’ Kashmiri leaders and the top brass of Pakistani terrorist outfits were still pouring out words from the old rotten script handed to them by the Pakistani Intelligence agencies, which for the most part is their major hindrance on the road to independence. The so called leaders, acting in accordance with the script written by the Pakistani Intelligence agencies in 1988 have made no progress so far but fooling a whole nation since last sixty one years.These leaders on the directives of the Pakistani Intelligence agencies butchered thousands of Kashmiri youths besides depriving an equal number of women from husbands and bread owners for a mere luxuriate vehicle and offices in Muzafarabad and Islamabad. Through this article I would like to bring to the attention of these so called leaders some questions. I doubt if they have got the answers.• Will these hired political bigwigs like to please tell their people as who after penning the ‘standstill agreement’ with Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh sabotaged the agreement within few months when even the ink had not dried?• Will they point out the people who under the supervision of army settled jihadis from the frontier in the valleys of Muzafarabad, Bagh, Rawlakot and other parts of Kashmir resulting in the butchery of hundreds of youth and non-Muslim females of the region besides putting on fire the houses and other belongings of the local non-Muslim community?• After the seize fire of 1948 which country had the United Nations ordered to withdrew its troops from Gilgit Bbaltistan within seven weeks?• To which country did Sir Zafar Ullah belonged who requested the United Nations to extend the above mentioned order up to twelve weeks? And which till today is lingering in limbo.• Which country it was at the request of which the third option i.e. option of self governance was extracted out from the papers of United Nations and abridged to affiliation.• Will the country be named which sabotaged the very basic human rights in Gilgit Baltistan since last sixty one years?• Whose unseen hands it was, that snatched books from youth of Sirinagar and gave guns instead, much painstaking is the fact that this unseen hands after training those youths in Mansehra for twenty days; made them to stand at a position eye ball to eye ball with the Indian professional troops in Kashmir.• On whose directives jihadists (Islamic fanatics) from Jhang, Frontier and Murid-kay replaced the flower scented atmosphere of Kashmir with that of gun powder and explosives?• Who had vowed to avenge the surrender of Dhaka by massacre of Kashmiris in 1988?• Will that country be named who created enmity among brothers in the land of peace called Gilgit Baltistan?• Who butchered nine hundred soldiers of N.L.I. and left their dead bodies in the cliffs of Kargil for the sake of an ill planed adventure?• Which country eliminated the state subject rule to incorporate non-locals in Gilgit Baltistan? If these “hired leaders” and travelers of the dark did not know, let me reveal it. The country is called Pakistan…!!! Let me tell the hired leaders that if they are true with the mother land and its inhabitants then please mount the direction of your speeches towards Islamabad too along with Dehli.On one hand you talk about the 84471 square miles Kashmir while on the other hand you completely neglect the 32,000 square miles of Gilgit Baltistan. When I am asked as who is to blame for the “rights deprived” Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir I will point towards the hired political leaders of Kashmir, who for personal gains have sold themselves in the hands of Pakistani Intelligence agencies.If a close of yours is assassinated, will you knock the doors of justice when knowing the hands sitting on the bench of judge are stained with the blood of your close one? Will… will you ever hire the lawyer for your ten canals of land who you know had taken other’s twelve canals illegally? I am sure your answer will be a big No! If the public of Kashmir is truly willing for its freedom they will have to protect their own movements from unseen hands otherwise the era of slavery will go stretching and in the lights of international laws, Pakistan is not even a part of the Kashmir dispute so how comes that we look towards Pakistan as our lawyer.Fighting against every evil aspect of Indian rule and neglecting the very illegal acts of Pakistan in accordance with the Kashmir dispute is a mere duplicity. Kashmiris should keep in their own hands the rein of their movement and the freedom movement must be fought on the very principles of self help, any external aid will do nothing except diluting their movement and mounting it in a direction opposite to thatof the destiny, along with the above mentioned suggestions the fake script of nationalism given by Islamabad must betorn to pieces at once, otherwise in Sirinagar only graves will exist not human population. Enemy dose not comes fromthe sky; he is among you with your color, your race and your religion.—(Translated by Gohar Abbas Gojali)

Preparations for Aga Khan’s Chitral visit

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
Preparations for Aga Khan’s Chitral visitin full swing
The Ismaili community in Chitral donated 400 cattle (yaks, goats, sheep and cows) as well as precious carpets and handmade items to Darbar Fund to express joy at visit of their spiritual leader to Chitral that is expected in mid-November. These cattle were sold at Booni and the fund was deposited with Darbar Fund. MNA from Chitral Shahzada Muhauiddin was chief guest on the occasion of cattle sale point (mela) while MPA Ghulam Muhammad, Tehsil Nazim Mastuj Shahzada Sikandar and other notables of the area were also present on the occasion. Thousands of people visited the mela. This is the first time that all expenditures for Prince Karim Aga Khan’s visit to Chitral would be borne by the local faithful. The cattle and other items were donated on the appeal of Sardar Hussain, convener, Darbar Fund, Chitral. All expenditures of the visit would be borne by the Darbar Fund and the spiritual leader and 49th Imam of the Ismaili community would be given a tumultuous welcome on his arrival. Sardar Hussain, regional convener of Darbar Fund, said their target for the fund was Rs10 million in which some six million had been collected from local Ismailis. He said uniformed volunteers had arrived from Boroghul and Yarkhun valley, hundreds kilometres away from here. A handicrafts and local fruit-exhibition show was also arranged side by side with the mela. Kaneez Fatma, coordinator of Meraman Project, funded by empowerment through creative integration, had arranged the exhibition. She said some 380 local women were trained in different handicrafts and marketing.—Chitral Update

Next elections GBDA to give tough time to PPP

Weekly Babg-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 25—–October 31, 2008
ISLAMABAD: As less than a year is left to the elections for the local bodies in the northern areas, politicians of the region have started their maneuvering to win the polls.Though Gilgit-Baltistan has no constitutional or political relation with Pakistan, the impact of the federal government is always felt in the region as well as in the Pakistani controlled Kashmir.As the PPP has formed a government in Islamabad, it is understood that political opportunists would be readying themselves to join the party and win its support to from a government in the northern areas too.It is like the former PML-Q government in Pakistanwhen people like Nisar Memon landed in Gilgit and availed themselves of the ready-made coterie of about 16 members to form a government.—Our Correspondent

Issue-15

No more packages – we need freedom


Pix in Genva Conf



Sunday, October 12, 2008

No more packages – we need freedom

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

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

Pakistan, India, UN criticized

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

Zardari hailed for terming Kashmiri

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

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

HR situation grim in N.As: report

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

Bajaur blockade to hurt Chitralis too

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

Call to cancel leases issued to outsiders

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

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

Extension of PEMRA to N.As opposed

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

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

Tributes paid to Kashmiris

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

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

Islamophobia and western ignorance

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

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

Geneva Declaration on Intra-Kashmiri Dialogue

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

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

Eid mubarik, Pakistan?

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

No taxation without representation


No taxation without representation

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
(Editorial)
No taxation withoutrepresentation TAX is a money fixed by the state and citizens, which the latter pay to the government for spending on the betterment of the people and ensuring their social, economic, cultural and other well-being and improving their life standards.Governments all over the world formulate their budgets based on the volume of money received under the head of taxes. But this happens only in free countries where the citizens have a say in the policy making process and the rulers do what the people want them to do.Under international laws, an occupying government cannot levy tax on the people under its control. It is known to all that Gilgit-Baltistan is not part of any country and under the UN resolutions is a disputed region. Under the International laws, the control of Pakistan on Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be justified. There is no taxation law in the world under which a country can levy taxes on people living out of its territorial jurisdiction. This is only possible when the people are brought under the ambit of the constitution of that country.For the last over six decades, Pakistan has been considering it its legal right to receive taxes from the people of Gilgit-Balatistan without giving them representation in its constitutional setup. This is illegal and unconstitutional. Besides, taxes are also received sometimes under the name of Sost dry port tax from the local traders and sometimes at the pretext of Dasu development. Sometimes in the name of sale tax a huge amount of money is transferred to Islamabad and sometimes using the pretext of transfer of land the locals are looted.In 2006, the Special Communication Service launched a mobile telephone service in Gilgit-Baltistan. Later, all national and international cellular companies operating in Pakistan moved to the region. Before the government allowed these companies to come to the region, legal experts and nationalist parties of Gilgit-Baltistan tried to draw the attention of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly towards the issue but unfortunately as this so-called house of representatives has been a silent spectator to all illegal taxes in the region, the demand fell on deaf ears this time too.We believe that no authority in the country has the right to levy tax on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Such type of taxes can only be termed Bhata. As in the streets of Punjab small thugs extort money from shopkeepers, Pakistani rulers think that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan do not know anything. Such attitudes of the rulers have always created crises for Pakistan.Pakistan had a few years ago tried to set up the department of tax in the region but the move was aborted after the local traders went on a shutterdown strike in the whole area. However, the rulers have imposed many taxes on the people since then in a gradual way without the realization of the people.The people of the region, especially the nationalist forces, should raise voice against the illegal taxation system in the region. This is not a problem of an individual or a political party but there is a question of exploitation of over two million people. The legislative assembly should take up the matter and ask Pakistan that under which law it is imposing taxes on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.The nationalist forces of the region should also take up the matter with the international organizations including the UN otherwise today if there are taxes being received at Sost and Kohistan, there is also a possibility that the locals would one day be compelled to pay taxes at every corner of the region.Earlier, the Pakistan rulers filled their pockets by issuing leases of our resources to outsiders and foreign companies and now are receiving dollars in connivance with foreign cell companies. It seems that soon people of the region would be taxed even on drinking water of the area. The rulers of Pakistan will be well placed if they follow international rules while dealing with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan lest the country becomes a laughing stock in the world.

Call to expose officials

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008

By Our Correspondent
Ghizer: A list of government officials having links with sectarian organizations should be prepared starting from Ghizer district to take action against them, demanded the public of the district. The social and public circles of the district have appealed to the Chief Secretary and inspector general of police to make a list of those in the government who are charged with fueling sectarian sentiments so that action could be taken against them. They said sectarianism was at its peak in the district and every governmental institution was being infected with this menace. According to them, sectarian discrimination is gaining roots in the government schools of the district while recruitment on the grounds of sectarian discrimination has also become a routine.They criticized the higher officials for their role in fuelling sectarian sentiments and termed a conspiracy against the peace of the region. They said higher officials are filling the governmental posts on sectarian grounds as a result of which merit is violated while officials coming from outside add to the misers of the people who are deprived of jobs just because they do not fulfill the secret sectarian criteria. It should be noted that the chief secretary Northern Areas had announced to make a list of the government officials involved in sectarian strife and punish them which was warmly welomed in the public circles and appreciated at large but the start of such an action is yet to be seen.

Banks witness huge

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Banks witness hugewithdrawals
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: As a result of the financial uncertainty in the world, the people of Gilgit Baltistan have started to withdraw their cash from banks. “What to do with that profit if you are not sure of your capital,” said a customer while driving back home after withdrawing money from a bank in Gilgit city. An official of a private bank in Gilgit told Bang-e-Sahar on condition of anonymity that in two days the withdrawal by customers had dropped cash with the bank to half of what it had. He said last Friday and Saturday most of the withdrawals were carried out. When asked about the future scenario, he said God knows better, but the apparent lines of worries and dissatisfaction revealed much of what he knew. Fears are that the financial institutions working in Gilgit Baltistan will go bankrupt in the coming five years.

Lack of funds halts work on uplift projects

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Lack of funds halts work on uplift projects
Gilgit: Due to lack of funds the developmental projects being carried out in various parts of Gilgit-Baltistan have came to a halt. Contractors and those relying for their bread on daily wages are the worst sufferers. Sources said that only seven percent of the budget has been approved in the lapse of four months after the current financial year. The masses of Gilgit-Baltistan have expressed their concerns over the issue and termed it an assault on the progress of the region and condemned the lack of interest of chairman northern areas and the finance department. “The region is moving backward, poverty is at its peak and the masses are dying of hunger but the people’s elected representatives are busy in horse trading and running for tickets,” they said. It should be noted that migration of “seasonal birds” belonging to local political parties to the party in majority has started and it is being made possible with the aid of nobody but those “jiyalas” and “shers” who chant slogans of making Gilgit Baltistan mini-Lahore and mini-Larkana. The people have appealed to the government to take immediate action in order to save the region from financial meltdown.

Jails devoid of facilities: survey

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Jails devoid of facilities: survey By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: The jails of Gilgit- Baltistan are in abysmal conditions and devoid of very basic human rights, a report stated. In the report, issued by the special survey team of Bang-e-Sahar, the investigating journalists termed the condition as alarming and said immediate action were needed to improve the condition of the prisoners. The team stated that in a prison with the capacity of sixty people some two hundred prisoners were forced to live resulting in poor hygienic and health conditions of the prisoners. They said fight among the prisoners had become a routine and the weaker prisoner had no right to food, water and other basic necessities of life. “We appeal to the authorities concerned to take steps on war footing if the condition is to be made better”, the report said. It should be noted that the prisons serving in Gilgit Baltistan are without any basic structure and facilities. The jails in Gilgit Baltistan have their own interesting set up. The chief sectary is given the additional job of serving as inspector general jails while the deputy commissioners are given the additional job of serving as the superintendent of jails in their respective districts. The report has rendered this extra duty as one of the many reasons for the disintegration of jails as due to lack of time these jails don’t get the deserved attention of the authorities concerned. The report said another reason for the abysmal condition was the lack of budget allocated for jails an example of which is the District jail Gilgit, where medical dispensary and doctor’s facility was available. The required annual budget of the dispensary mentioned in the prior lines is four point four million but it gets only one point eight million annually. If this condition prevails the jails serving in Gilgit Baltistan will serve as a nursery for criminals instead of becoming a rehabilitation centre for those with a criminal record or those who fail to obey the rule of law.NO RELIEF ON EID: The prisoners of Gilgit baltistan remained devoid of any relief despite announcement made by the President. On the eve of Eidul Fitr, President Asif Ali Zardari had announced a relief of three months in the penalty of prisoners all over the country but this announcement fell on a deaf ear in Gilgit Baltistan.According to sources, local beaurocracy thought it not a big deal and did not compensate any prisoner while the prisoners and public expressed astonishment over the attitude of the local beaurocracy.The prisoners said on the occasion of Eidul Fitr Muslim prisoners all over the world are compensated but here in Gilgit Baltistan no thought is given to such issues and such It should be noted that all decisions are made independently here in Gilgit Baltistan by the local civil and military establishment without giving any second thought to rule of the law.

Cell phone firms slammed for tax


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Cell phone firms slammed for taxdeduction
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: Cell phone users have expressed their concern over the tax deduction by cellular companies in Gilgit Baltistan and termed it an illegal act. The current fifty percent increase in tax deduction of cellular companies has compelled many to turn to the tax free system of SCom. “Gilgit Baltistan is a tax-free zone and the sole authority of tax implementation rests with the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly,” said a cell phone user while talking to Bang-e-Sahar. “The cell phone companies should stop their tax deduction process in Gilgit Baltistan immediately or leave the region at once, he added while a franchise officer operating in Gilgit city said the local customers were angry over tax deduction and said “people come to us complaining about the tax deduction giving their justifications but we have no answer.” Another franchise officer working on the complaint desk said it was unbearable to listen to a mob all day with only one complain for which you have no solution. “Sometimes the customers get out of control with anger and I consider quitting this job right at that moment,” he said, adding it was the thought of feeding a big family of over a dozen members which makes him stick to his job.Despite the chaos that the tax deduction has created in the region the representatives of the public remain unmoved. When asked, a public representative said he can’t fight with multi billion dollar companies. “If tax deduction concerns people that much they should stop using cell phones,” he added. It is interesting to note that no single word has been uttered by the concerned authorities of the public or those of the cellular companies.

Workshop on tourism


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Workshop on tourismOrganisers criticised for keepingstakeholders away
By A Correspondent

 

GILGIT: People belonging to the tourism industry and other stakeholders have criticised the organisers of a workshop on tourism held in the townfor keeping them out of the event.The regional workshop on tourism was jointly organised by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and a German NGO, Invent. The people said the activity produced nothing except providing an excursion trip to the participants.The workshop was a closed door activity where nobody was allowed except a few selected NGO personnel from Germany and Nepal besides some government officials of the Northern Areas. The participants of the workshop later crossed the Sino-Pakistan border into the Xinjiang province of China where they would stay for three days.The secretary planning and development and the secretary law Northern Areas were special guests on the occasion. “Since the international donor agencies have shifted their priorities from Gilgit-Baltistan and are focusing more on Kashmir and Afghanistan, the AKRSP is trying to get government funds by appeasing the officials,” said a tour operator.”The NGO is building the capacity of government officials who are posted here for a specific period of time only. We are the promoters and at the same time sufferers in the tourism sector so we should be taken on board while discussing tourism-related issues,” Tariq Hussain, another tour operator said.Surprisingly, the media was also kept out of the event and even the official media manager of the region was ignorant about the activity.”I am surprised why they ignored the media and did not want coverage of the workshop. Everybody in this regionis a stakeholder of tourism industry,” said Nasim Khan,the regional information officer.—Dawn

Trout fish smuggling goes unchecked


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008

Trout fish smuggling goes unchecked

By Our Correspondent

Ghizer: A large number of trout fish was smuggled out from the Gupis valley of Ghizer district. Sources told Bang-e-Sahar that a few days earlier smugglers of trout came to the valley along a political figure of Gilgit and caught tons of trout and smuggled it to Gilgit safely without the notice of the law enforcers. The personals deployed in Sher Qila check post did not bother to check the smugglers. Residents of the locality have strongly condemned the negligence of the personnel of fisheries department. The residents said the personnel of fishery department deployed in the Sher Qila check post deal the local residents with an iron hand on minor issues while smugglers from outside the valley are left to do their job without any hindrance. The residents have appealed to the higher officials of the concerned department to take notice of the issue and ensure strong action against the culprits. “The lower personnel are being bribed by the white collar smugglers,” one of the residents said. “This trend needs to be put a full stop at the higher level,” he added.

A women adjusts a traditional Gilgit cap at the first conference on rural women held at Lok Virsa In Islamabad

Afghans to be kicked out of Gilgit-Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Afghans to be kicked out of Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit: Considering the current scenario of law and order in the country, the local administration of Gilgit Baltistan has decided to remove Afghan nationals residing in the region without NOCs. “The administration has decided to keep a close eye on the activities of Afghan nationals residing in the region,” said a source in the local administration. He said a list of the Afshan nationals and their whereabouts in the region was also being started soon while those who are residing without NOCs will be deported from the region.—Correspondent

Zardari promises AJK-like assembly

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Zardari promises AJK-like assembly
By Gohar Abbas Gojali
Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has said an assembly like that of Azad Kashmir will soon be established in Gilgit Baltistan. In a meeting at the President House, Mr Zardari announced this on the demand of president PPP women wing Northern Areas, Mrs Sadia Danish.It was unanimously decided to grant 33% quota for females in the governmental jobs in Gilgit Baltistan. Besides, a women crisis centre and a women bank will also be set up in the region. It was also decided to distribute the Benazir income support cards through the women wing of the party in Gilgit Baltistan.Sadia Dansih also met the minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Qamaru Zaman Kaira, minister for media and broadcasting Shery Rehman, foreign minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi, and finance minister Naveed Qamar after the meeting.She briefed the President and ministers about the economic and political condition of the region in genral and women of the region in particular. She said a large polulation of women in Gilgit Baltistan was jobless while an equal number has suffered due to the killing of their husbands and bread owners in sectarian strife. While talking to Bang-e-Sahar after the meeting, she said she would do her utmost to uplift the condition of women in her region. She said Gilgit Baltistan was a land of “jiyalas” and who have rendered great services and sacrifices for the party. It should be noted that Sadia Danish is widow of late Ramzan Danish, a leading activist of the students wing of PPP who lost his life in the post-Jan 08 sectarian strife in Gilgit Baltistan.

International moot on Kashmir

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
International moot on KashmirCall to purge Kashmir of religiouselements
By Our Correspondent

Geneva: Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman United Kashmir Peoples National Party (UKPNP), has said the people of Kashmir are pro-peace and pro-democracy. They demand that a culture of accountability and transparency be established in the polity of entire Jammu Kashmir without any distinction.Addressing a conference on “Kashmir Issue, Terrorism and Human Rights” at the United Nations offices in Geneva, he said we are against the teachings, preaching and education of communal hatred. And the forces which are using religion as a weapon must be discouraged and their infrastructure be dismantled anywhere in the region under any name.”We support and endorse reconciliation and the need of roundtable discussion of the political leaders, civil society of all divided parts of former princely state. We oppose proxy war and proxy politics, which left enormous effects on the daily life of the people of Jammu Kashmir. Today the entire population of the state is compelled to live in threat and harassment by the different non-state actors in the region.”We strongly demand from the government of Pakistan to abolish all discriminatory clauses from the constitutional act of 1974 which bars freedom of thoughts, freedom of assembly as well as discriminate and violates universal charter of fundamental rights of the local people.He said human rights must be protected without the distinction of caste, colour, creed, gender, social and political orientation. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri said today entire population of Jammu Kashmir has become hostage to terrorists, which are still freely and independently operating and moving everywhere in Pakistani administered Kashmir. The government of Pakistan is still not successful to draft a modern day foreign policy out of the pressure of its military influence. He alleged that Pakistan is promoting, importing and still exporting terrorists and training camps are still intact in various parts of Pakistan, as well as in some far most remote areas of the mountainous region of so called Azad Kashmir.”For us, Kashmir comprises 85,000 square miles, including the Kashmir valley, which encompasses 8,000 square miles. Jammu, which constitutes 12,000 square miles, Ladakh, which has 35,000 square miles, Gilgit Baltistan and Hunza which cover the area of 28,000 square miles, and Pakistani-administered Kashmir (Azad Kashmir), 4,000 square miles. For us, Kashmir is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic State encompassing the most important strategic areas in the South Asian region in terms of its political and economic significance in today’s globalized world.But for some Kashmiri leaders, Kashmir is only the Valley of Kashmir and the rest is meaningless to them. Yet when we describe Kashmir as a land of peace, harmony, brotherhood, love and tolerance, these are not just words: Kashmir and its 13 million inhabitants from east, west, north and south truly reflect these noble sentiments of humanity to each other. Wular and Dal lakes set off the Valley of Kashmir; the Tavi and Chenab rivers water the fertile fields of Jammu; the Gilgit and Indus rivers give life to the land of northern Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan; and the River Poonch flows in the Poonch area, where people grow rice, wheat, corn and vegetables. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is replete with natural resources: five major rivers and many small streams, Sweetwater lakes, the world’s longest mountain ranges, such as the lofty Great Himalayas, and the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, situated in this many-sided area. From a cultural perspective Kashmir features unique diversity: in the Valley of Kashmir, we can catch a glimpse of old Persian and eastern European cultural influence, in Jammu, the vibrant Dogra culture encompasses historical Sanskrit letters and poetry, songs and dances; while in Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan, eastern European and Buddhist cultures and languages have left their mark on the everyday lives of the inhabitants. Kashmir has produced a host of renowned political leaders, intellectuals, musicians, historians, artists, writers and singers. To give just a few examples – and I could go on at length – the poetry of Lal Ded (Habba Khatoon) is full of love and her writings afford us fascinating insights into Kashmiri society. The poems of Dina Nath Nadim convey the pain, misery and plight of the Kahsmiri people in the early 19th century. Later, Fauq and Krishan Chandar gave Kashmiri literature a boost in the 20th century. Similarly, intellectuals, musicians and academics in all other regions of the former Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu have valiantly endeavoured to preserve centuries-old culture, music and literature in these areas despite present-day divisions.The geographic and strategic location of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir made it vulnerable, first in the 19th century, as the sun began to set over the far-flung British Empire, then after the Second World War. At the time, the British were preparing to leave the subcontinent, which featured vast amounts of inhabitants, resources and land and could pride itself on centuries of peaceful coexistence.We must remember that, although Mughals conquered India and ruled for several centuries, the sentiments of harmony, peace, and love coexisted side by side. Yet the British divided people into Muslims and non-Muslims, promoting a two-nation theory. Not only Muslims in India met the definition of a separate nation: many other nationalities enjoyed their own language, culture, traditions and religion, occupying substantial areas of the land. Divide-and-rule has been a centuries-old tool of occupying forces. Today, however, occupying forces are relying on the tactic of confuse-and-rule.To give you an inkling of Kashmir’s rich history, many believe that the Mauryan emperor Ashoka founded the city of Srinagar. Moreover, Kashmir was a seat of Buddhist learning in days of yore. History tells us that Buddhism came to China from Kashmir. In 1349, after Muslim rule was ushered in, Islam became the dominant religion in Kashmir valley. The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir coexisted harmoniously by and large, as the Sufi-Islamic way of life of ordinary Muslims in Kashmir dovetailed with the Rishi traditions of Kashmiri pundits. The outcome was a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims prayed at the same shrines. Today, Kashmiris refer to the Rajatarangini, the chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, as the sole ancient record of Kashmir’s history and existence.At this point, I would like to give you a glimpse of recent history so that you can understand the present-day conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. By the early 19th century, control of the Kashmir valley had shifted from the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and Afghans to the conquering Sikh armies. This change began in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Rajah of Jammu, when the Kingdom of Jammu was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore. Gulab Singh, Ranjit Singh’s subordinate, took the valley, annexing it to Jammu in 1819. With the help of his army officer Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh seized Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan to the east and north-east of Jammu. In 1845, when the First Anglo-Sikh war broke out, Gulab Singh skilfully managed to avoid involvement until the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he acted as a useful mediator and a trusted advisor of Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence. Two treaties were then signed. Under the first, the state of Lahore, that is West Punjab, ceded to the British, as the equivalent of one Crore of indemnity, the hill countries between Beas and Indus.Under the second, the British gave Gulab Singh for 75 lakhs all the hilly or the mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi (that is, the Vale of Kashmir). Thus, the Kingdom of Jammu became a tributary of Sikh power in 1846. Not long after Gulab Singh died in 1857, his son Ranbir Singh swallowed up the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar.The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, as it was called at the time, came into being between 1820 and 1858. It brought together heterogeneous regions, religions and ethnicities; to the east, Ladakh was ethnically and culturally Tibetan with inhabitants who practised Buddhism, to the south, Jammu was a mixture of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs; in the Kashmir valley, the vast majority of inhabitants were Sunni Muslims apart from a small minority of Brahmans and pundits; to the north-east, thinly populated Baltistan had a population which was ethnically related to Ladakh but practised Shia Islam; to the north, the area of Gilgit Agency featured a mix of Shia and Sunni Muslims; and to the west, Poonch contained Muslims who were ethnically dissimilar to those of the Kashmir valley.After the subcontinent was partitioned, rulers of princely states were given a choice to decide their future: either to accede via union to India or Pakistan or in special cases to remain independent. However, a tribal invasion from Pakistan frightened the Maharajah of Kashmir into signing an instrument of accession with India. This instrument specified that the wishes of the Kashmiri people had to be taken into account and that India would protect the life, liberty and property of the Kashmiri people.” Property” in this respect meant that India had to do more to clear those areas which were illegally occupied by Pakistan. It was Pakistan which occupied the most significant regions of the State, and the presence of its military forces in the State materially changed the entire situation. United Nations Security Council resolution 47 was adopted on 21 April 1948. After hearing arguments from both India and Pakistan, the Council increased the size of the Commission established by United Nations Security Council resolution 39 to five members, instructing the Commission to go to the subcontinent and help the governments of India and Pakistan restore peace and order to the region and prepare for a plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir. The resolution recommended that in order to ensure the impartiality of the plebiscite, Pakistan withdraw all tribesmen and nationals who had entered the region for the purpose of fighting and that India leave only the minimum number of troops needed to keep civil order. The Commission was also to send as many observers into the region as it deemed necessary to ensure that the provisions of the resolution were enacted. Yet Pakistan never complied with the stipulations of the Security Council or UNCIP recommendations. It has not recognized these provisions and has continued to press for a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people. Pakistan set up its own Kashmir, called Azad Kashmir, in a minute Western chunk controlled by it. The much larger region of Pakistani Kashmir in the north-west, which was a province named Northern Areas in the erstwhile State, hardly features in the laws and Constitution of Pakistan. Yet the military establishment and secret agencies claim that these areas are part of Pakistan and have nothing to do with the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The silence of the pro-Pakistan group APHC regarding these areas is also meaningful and regrettably shameful. Today, the former State of Jammu and Kashmir has been carved up by three countries – India, Pakistan and China. All – three have fought wars on Kashmiri soil: Pakistan with India in 1948, 1965 and 1999; and India with China in 1962, when the latter captured the vast area known as Aksai Chin.

New approaches on Kashmir whenever and whoever suggested were largely resisted by certain forces, both in Pakistan and India including Kashmiri’s on both sides. Those interests are entwined with the status quo. Such idea was initially advanced in early 50s and early sixties when dialogues between Bhutto and Sawarn Sigh were conducted to resolve this complex issue based on the changed ground realities and shared regional interests. The approach was advocated by the US then to persuade Ayub Khan that it is the time to come to recognize the ground realities and not to miss the opportunity when India was inclined to compromise on the changing situation. And when Sheikh Abdullah visited last time Pakistan, he had suggested along the same lines to Ayub Khan too.Opportunities were missed on both occasions when Patel asked Liaquat Ali Khan to take Kashmir and leave Hyderabad before ending up for nothing. But Pakistan leadership’s shortsightedness couldn’t see beyond the wall and helped India to keep both, Kashmir and Hyderabad. After 1965 lost war and 1971 Pakistan’s division – because of its own policies to marginalize the Bengali politically and economically – it was time or Pakistan to review its flawed and failed policies over all, on Kashmir and within its own provinces could have helped Pakistan to secure its economic and geographical interests. But military’s growing political interests and control over power led it to resist any change that was deemed necessary to keep this country’s larger interests ahead to the military institution. The unchanged policies and unchallenged military’s direct and indirect control over the political power in Pakistan has seriously discouraged every new approach that was suggested to resolve the conflict of Kashmir; that eventually resulted in the prolonged confrontation, hostilities and proxy war that strengthened the extremist forces across Pakistan and region, and military in Pakistan.Nawaz Sharif was first who had tried to depart from the traditional policy by inviting Vajpayee and signing Lahore Declaration which was thwarted through Kargil misadventure of Mushraf and eventually he was ousted from the power. Later, the same Mushraf agreed, who had accused Nawaz for sell-off Kashmir under the global pressure, on the new approaches on Kashmir suggested by the former Indian PM Mr. Vajpaee to soften the borders. Though the idea of soft borders has been advocated by many political scientists and practitioners since ago, at least to start with in order to mitigate the grievances and sufferings that division and barriers had caused or inflicted upon the people, was finally endorsed in 2004 after six decades of destruction and death. But again forces opposed to new ideas and fresh approaches are seen to be disenchanted with the utility of it and insist to embark upon the old notions, ideas and approaches of fighting for Kashmiri cause without winning it.Reasons and aims are obvious because in six decades military dominated politics and policies were largely advocated on both sides but especially in Pakistan without questioning its merits. However, India succeeded to keep military out of politics and its successive governments changed priorities of Indian politics from military to build Economy. But somehow Kashmir aspect has been determining factor between both countries relations whether it was under the two-nation theory in Pakistan, or secularism in India. As a result only military was strengthened on both sides but this mindset further entrenched in policy making to make military might unchallengeable on both sides which helped Pakistan military to take the charge of everything by demonizing and ridiculing the political leadership of country. The growing military control and interests in Pakistan helped it to resist any new idea or approach to resolve Kashmir conflict with India.

In the free homeland (Azad Kashmir) part 1


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
In the free homeland (Azad Kashmir) part 1
(Translation of the hand-written account of Col Mirza Hassan Khan, Military Cross, Fakhar-e-Kashmir, during his imprisonment and confinement in the last stages of his life).
In April 1955, we were set free from jail after a long legal struggle. There was an element of good luck in this, besides the role of handicapped governor general Ghulam Mohammad and our capable lawyer Manzoor Qadir. Soharwardy was at this time in government and Ghulam Mohammad had bundled off Nazimudin along with the assembly. There was betterment for us in this fuss. In 1956, while in Gilgit, I formed a political party so that this impotent (bhanjh) region should line up in some political array. But this was not to the liking of nature and the governments as both of them were absolute dictators.My decision was also very firm. Despite numerous difficulties, this political party remained successful, but in 1958, when Sikander Mirza enforced martial law in Pakistan the politicians and politics were rounded off. After assuming the charge as foreign minister, Mr Manzoor Qadir wired me that the politics is finished now and come to me; otherwise you will be again put in jail. I could ill afford going to jail now, so he after rendering advices to me got me a government job in Azad Kashmir. There in 1961, I got charge of director “Village Aid” from Brigadier Noasherwan Khan, when after passing away he took charge of some other department in the other world. Azad Watan was free in the name only; it had none of its own army, neither police, nor a department of intelligence, no accounts and accountability department, though they had their own assembly.All the veterans of the war of liberation had been ousted. It had no comparison with the Azad Kashmir of 1949-51, when the writer was sector commander of Poonch and the war preparations were being conducted in every house and in every nook and corner, the activities of local mujahid committees under my supervision was felt. Every child was fully motivated for jehad and wanted to become a soldier. In the war of liberation, even the women of Poonch had started holding weapons. It appeared as if at that time Azad Kashmir was a Palestinian mujahid camp of today. In every place Yasin Arafats were roaming with their groups. At that time, Sakhi Daler also met me as a general of one such group. He was a Robinhood of Mirpur. Everyone had a feeling that if the war had stopped today, then it could start tomorrow, therefore at every level the war preparations were going on with full swing under the supervision of officers of Azad forces and Azad Govt.Azad army officers were solely the leaders of the people. But, this was not liked by the jealous arena. Now, when I assessed the situation after return from prison, the map was completely changed. The economic thinking had superceded the war thinking and some money was also coming in. But only this much, like a thirsty man gets dew from the ocean. In this, economic imbalanced situation, the rein of Azad Kashmir’s civil administration and army had come into the hands of Pakistan. The salaries of the local civil administration officials were just enough to merely survive. Americans now had started throwing naked bones to the hungry in the name of “Village Aid”, so that we should start fighting amongst each other instead of foreigners. Look at the irony of fate! The charge of this department was handed over to me from a Pakistani…. Various political parties had been formed. Every party was asking votes from the people in the name of liberation of Kashmir but both the parties and the people knew that all this is just superficial.The truth was only this much that every party wanted to appease the Pakistani ruling group to come into power. Muslim Conference used to nominate president of the government. People used to make him sit on the seat of power with funfair and the ministry of Kashmir affairs used to send him quietly to jail and those very people celebrated this very act as a spring festival and felt happy to witness disgrace of everyone, one after the other! I had seen no president of Azad Kashmir, who had not gone to jail. Only one perso.Besides the president, another supreme head stationed in Rawalpindi was imposed on this small region; who was very closely trailing the president. In 1962, when Mr. K H Khurshid became the president through “Basic Democracy” system, then he successfully tried to get rid of the ministry and the supreme hood. Ayub Khan of Pakistan initially supported him but later gave away and resultantly the President Sahib landed in Dalai (confinement place). Khurshid tried to provide some respectability to the Chain. In this downfall, there was a lot of contribution of own people. I had seen the flame of life, burning and extinguishing everywhere, sometimes on the battlefield and sometimes in my house. In my ancestral house in a village of Gilgit, I had seen Mount Rakhaposhi at sunset disappearing into nothingness with the last ray of sun like an extinguishing cigarette. There was a very little chance of revival from the charred material. It appeared as if some very organized Zionist movement has snatched the freedom of action from the Kashmiris. They have been broken down into three pieces: Occupied Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and no chance was being provided to them to join their heads, so as to think to combine. There can be no denying the fact that the Gilgitis and Baltis were far more engulfed in bad luck as compared with Azad Kashmiris. They were not even free in their houses to regulate their lives. The ray of hope of liberation of Kashmir was missing in all these three parts. Those who use to dance to the tunes of every Pharaoh of time were issuing topsy turvy statements to sell Kashmiris and freedom of Kashmir. They were terming every bad act of their masters as good one. All the achievements of 1947 were watered down. The veterans of tongue had replaced those of character. I had come here after getting disappointed from my region but over here also I had assessed diminishing self respect. During the 1965 and 1971 wars, the charge of the ministry of defense of Azad Kashmir was with me (Secretary Defense), but who was I? … No person from Azad Kashmir, even including the president was not consulted that something was about to happen on 8th August 1965. The 1965 war was waged without preparation. This was an half hearted attempt, the motive of which could have been other than keeping the Kashmir dispute alive; in the shape of sliding away Ayub Khan from the seat of power, as it happened.There could have been only two purposes of sending across the Mujahids into the other side on 8 August 1965. First, to go inside and after setting of snow on the mountains remain there in cut off state so as to be minced meat by Indian army. Second, they should come back just before fall of snow by end October and thus those Muslims of Indian Occupied Kashmir, who in lakhs had sided with these mujahids should become victim of Indian army guns and rifles. The mujahids went inside in August 1965, and came out in October and brought along one lakh poor and hungry men, women and children. They kept languishing and dying in camps without support for some days and then went back so as to die from Indian bullets instead of dying over here…. Indeed, the mastermind of this scheme did not deserve to be called a soldier, as no soldier even with an average thinking could have chosen these timings of attack. The tale of Kashmir has been fiddled (chairr) and this tale cannot be complete, without a brief mention of K. H. Khurshid. It is true that everyone who had come into power has done his level best to keep alive the Kashmir dispute, merely to save his seat of power.They have not dared to go beyond just verbal rhetoric’s, so that Pakistan remains happy and spirited people are also deceived at the same time, but as it is said that Ghalib had a unique style! And Khurshid was bit impatient to become a practical mujahid and realized that it is futile to have a black record in the annals of history by just empty talks. If there was a Kashmir dispute, worth its name; then it should be solved in this World – in some debate or on some battlefield. He sought advise from this humble writer also and was told the only practical solution, which is disliked by all and without which, so much time is wasted and no other solution other than this has been found out as yet. This is to combine Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and their combined govt of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is accepted as the true representative govt of whole former State like the one under the rein of Hari Singh; so that a struggle for freedom is launched; as a consequence of which, it is decided to accede to one of the claimants. This very government and people should be Azad i.e. free in real sense of the term, so that weapons can be obtained from friendly Islamic countries and China . Thus, the men, women and children of the liberated areas can be armed and fight like Palestinians in the battlefield. It is only possible if they have their own Yasir Arafats, otherwise many Shah Hussains and Anwar Saadats can strike other compromises. Luckily or unluckily, Khurshid got this idea approved from Ayub Khan. Ayub was a soldier and was aware of the practical aspects of this problem. But he failed to convince those politicians who were opposing this idea; those politicians who wanted to continue ruling these freed areas and remain only hollow mujahideen with empty talks. They were not at all interested in the freedom of Kashmir. For them, everyone who comes into power in Pakistan is a savior of Kashmir and a messiah of Azad Kashmiris. Among them, one of the sahibs has invented an empty slogan, “Kashmir Banega Pakistan”. In his opinion, in their arsenals, even Russia and America had not invented as yet a better missile than this. They had no answer whatsoever that when and how Kashmir will become Pakistan. It was a deception of very dangerous and harmful dimension. Consequently, Ayub Khan was soon made to be disappointed and distrustful of Khurshid and he was also confined in a Dulai camp. He must be cursing that meeting which he held with Ayub Khan and Abdullah. Both of them were incapable of taking a stand for even a moment on their point of view.

New approaches to Kashmir as suggested by Zardari

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
By Mumtaz Khan
New approaches on Kashmir whenever and whoever suggested were largely resisted by certain forces, both in Pakistan and India including Kashmiri’s on both sides. Those interests are entwined with the status quo. Such idea was initially advanced in early 50s and early sixties when dialogues between Bhutto and Sawarn Sigh were conducted to resolve this complex issue based on the changed ground realities and shared regional interests. The approach was advocated by the US then to persuade Ayub Khan that it is the time to come to recognize the ground realities and not to miss the opportunity when India was inclined to compromise on the changing situation. And when Sheikh Abdullah visited last time Pakistan, he had suggested along the same lines to Ayub Khan too.Opportunities were missed on both occasions when Patel asked Liaquat Ali Khan to take Kashmir and leave Hyderabad before ending up for nothing. But Pakistan leadership’s shortsightedness couldn’t see beyond the wall and helped India to keep both, Kashmir and Hyderabad. After 1965 lost war and 1971 Pakistan’s division – because of its own policies to marginalize the Bengali politically and economically – it was time or Pakistan to review its flawed and failed policies over all, on Kashmir and within its own provinces could have helped Pakistan to secure its economic and geographical interests. But military’s growing political interests and control over power led it to resist any change that was deemed necessary to keep this country’s larger interests ahead to the military institution. The unchanged policies and unchallenged military’s direct and indirect control over the political power in Pakistan has seriously discouraged every new approach that was suggested to resolve the conflict of Kashmir; that eventually resulted in the prolonged confrontation, hostilities and proxy war that strengthened the extremist forces across Pakistan and region, and military in Pakistan.Nawaz Sharif was first who had tried to depart from the traditional policy by inviting Vajpayee and signing Lahore Declaration which was thwarted through Kargil misadventure of Mushraf and eventually he was ousted from the power. Later, the same Mushraf agreed, who had accused Nawaz for sell-off Kashmir under the global pressure, on the new approaches on Kashmir suggested by the former Indian PM Mr. Vajpaee to soften the borders. Though the idea of soft borders has been advocated by many political scientists and practitioners since ago, at least to start with in order to mitigate the grievances and sufferings that division and barriers had caused or inflicted upon the people, was finally endorsed in 2004 after six decades of destruction and death. But again forces opposed to new ideas and fresh approaches are seen to be disenchanted with the utility of it and insist to embark upon the old notions, ideas and approaches of fighting for Kashmiri cause without winning it.Reasons and aims are obvious because in six decades military dominated politics and policies were largely advocated on both sides but especially in Pakistan without questioning its merits. However, India succeeded to keep military out of politics and its successive governments changed priorities of Indian politics from military to build Economy. But somehow Kashmir aspect has been determining factor between both countries relations whether it was under the two-nation theory in Pakistan, or secularism in India. As a result only military was strengthened on both sides but this mindset further entrenched in policy making to make military might unchallengeable on both sides which helped Pakistan military to take the charge of everything by demonizing and ridiculing the political leadership of country. The growing military control and interests in Pakistan helped it to resist any new idea or approach to resolve Kashmir conflict with India.

Even media offices are not safe


Even media offices are not safe

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar
(Editorial)
IN Pakistan neither the life of the people is safe nor their religious freedom is protected. The collective thought process of the masses is shadowed by rampant poverty and backwardness. Whatever a semblance of independence existed in the media it is also seen steadily eroding way. Now the media is neither free nor independent in this country. For the last over 60 years the country is being ruled by a specific group of people. When there is a military rule, these people also remain in power in one way or the other. The only difference is that during military dictatorship the military rulers select people from among the same group of people to rule the country without going through the hassle of holding elections. Even when there is no military rule, dictatorship does not fade away. The whole affairs of governance revolve around the chief of the ruling party and the elected representatives are not supposed to utter a word against the party chief. The dictatorship of Musharraf has been replaced by the dictatorship of Asif Ali Zardari now. Is there anyone who can differ with this notion?
It is ironic that some parts of the country since its inception have specially been targeted while the influential families of Punjab, NWFP and somehow Sindh have ruled the country. These families `own’ both the military and civilian bureaucracy, diplomats and most of the media organizations.
Unfortunately, Balochistan has been an eyesore for the rulers since day one only because of the natural resources and survival of the population-wise biggest province. For the last over six decades, the province of Balochistan has been in a state of war. Ayub Khan, ZulfikarAli Bhutto, Ziaul Haq, Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf all snatched the rights from the people of Balochistan and bombed them when they demanded their due rights. As a result, today every Baloch has taken up arms and the situation is no more under the control of the rulers.
The second target of the Pakistani rulers has been the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. These innocent and simple minded people have been so blind in their love with Pakistan that they presented their sons as sacrifice for the defence of the country but in return they were given poverty, illiteracy and injustices in all walks of life. Most ironically, they were deprived of their identity. But like the people of Balochistan, the rulers never took mercy on the people of Gilgit-Blatistan. However, gradullay the sense of deprivation increased and the people started to realize that they were not free but treated like salves. In such a situation, lack of leadership made the situation worse for the masses of this region. This was the time when the local media came to the rescue of the people and guided them towards their actual destination. Today, the fruits of the 10 years’ media efforts have started coming to the fore in the shape of people’s unity and readiness to start a struggle for their rights. The forbearer of this struggle in the area has been Bang-e-Sahar, which has given its readers a vision and hope for the future. But the Pakistan rulers were not ready to digest the fact. The newspaper office was looted on September 22 without realizing, however, that the torch-bearer of a movement can never be alone but is backed by thousands of people. Computers and other equipment used for the publication of the weekly in its operational office in Rawalpindi were stolen. The aim to narrate this incident is that the rulers have themselves brought the country to such a point where no one is safe. Till quite recently, daylight robberies in media offices were unimaginable but in a country where even worship places are not safe from destruction and sacrilege, the question of a newspaper office remaining safe becomes a farce.
We do not hope any action on FIR No 569 registered with Rawalpindi’s Sadiqabad police. The rulers have become so callous that they never think it their moral duty to say a few words for the sympathy of a victim. We, however, once again resole that with the support of the masses Bang-e-Sahar will continue its mission despite all odds.

Kashmir issue & Gilgit, Baltistan


Kashmir issue & Gilgit, Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday September 20–September 26, 2008
(Editorial)
AS 9/11 changed the whole world politics it also put its effects on the issue of Kashmir. Soon after the event, then President Pervez Musharraf went to Agra on American pressure and held talks with former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and started the peace process. This was the same General Musharraf who had even not attended the welcome ceremony held for Mr Vajpayee when he came to Lahore in April 1999 on the invitation of Nawaz Sharif. When we look at the situation in the subcontinent before 9/11, we remember that the armies of the two nations were eyebrow to eyebrow on the border. However, soon after 9/11 a ceasefire was announced by then Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and the mujahideen inside Kashmir were called terrorists. There came bans on the mujahideen organizations, talk process between the two nations started, steps were initiated to check cross-border terrorism and a bus service was launched between the capitals of both the portions of Kashmir. In an iftar party organized by Sheikh rashidAhmed, Pervez Musharraf while talking to the media termed Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan a disputed territory. When we analyze all the happenings which occurred in quick successions, it transpires that these steps were taken on the pressure of America alone. Both the countries had clandestinely reached an agreement on the issue of Kashmir but they could not agree on the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Then the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and the February 18 general elections completely changed the political landscape of Pakistan with Musharraf stepping down under pressure. Soon after coming to power the new government under pressure of the Bush administration issued a notification to bring the ISI under the control of the ministry of interior. However, it could not sustain the order and within 24 hours had to withdraw the notification. Soon after this, the jehadi elements in Kashmir came to open again and a protest was launched on the pretext of a trivial issue. The APHC later gave a “Muzaffarbaad Chalo” call and tried to cerate a law and order situation. Once again jehadi leaders like Salahuddin and Hafiz Saeed have started rising in Pakistan refreshing the reminiscences of 1988. There has also been a wall-chalking against the Mirzai sect inside the Pakistan administered Kashmir allegedly at the behest of secret agencies. In Gilgit-Baltistan too hate literatures wall-chalking and speeches against nationalist forces are going on. With the coming to power of the democratic government on the one hand law and order situation is being created in Gilgit-Baltistan while on the other President Asif Zardari has announced that people would soon hear good news on Kashmir. Besides the appointment of Fazalur Rehman as chairman of the Kashmir committee has perturbed observers of the Kshmir issue. The Kashmir issue has been lingering for the last over 61 years and the statement that within one the nation will hear good news is beyond comprehension. The recent fare-up in the activities of the jehadi organizations and accusations of India and Pakistan against each others indicate that they are about to say goodbye to the CBM and peace process. Both India and Pakistan consider APHC as the representative body of the Kshmiris and it seems that both the countries are planning to fire a shot from the shoulder of the party for their own objectives.
However, so far the APHC has failed to declare its clear-cut policy. On the one hand it hoodwinks the masses by aiming for independence and on the other it declares to make the state part of Pakistan. However, nationalist parties in both Azad Kashmir and Giglit-Baltistan are in unison for an independent status for the region. It is very important that if a settlement was imposed on the issue without taking the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir on board the over 10 million people of the region would never accept it.
The simple and acceptable solution to the issue would be one based on the United Nations resolutions under which both India and Pakistan should withdraw their forces from the region and hold a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of the region.

First BNSO convention Students told to fight for rights

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
By Our Correspondent
LAHORE: Balawaristan National Front Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan has called upon the students to study geography and history of Gilgit-Baltistan alongside their own syllabus in order to become abreast of the region’s rich history and traditions and lead the people towards attainment of their basic rights.
He was addressing the first two-day BNSO convention in Lahore. “First of all, let me welcome and congratulate you for launching a struggle from the platform of Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO) for the rights, well-being, peace and international identity of your people.”
I would like to also inform those brothers and sisters who are not present here today that there was no sentimental element behind our struggle but historical, cultural and geographical reasons as well as Pakistani rulers’ injustices since November 16, 1947 were behind the move.
The present rulers have never taken a single local on board in the decision-making process in the region. They have even considered democracy as a forbidden tree for our people. Besides, to prolong their rule they pitched one brother against another by dividing them on sectarian lines. Due to these reasons, the Balawaristan National Front (BNF) started its struggle for attaining all basic rights in 1992.
As far as bread, clothing and house are concerned it is a deceitful slogan which has in reality no relation with basic rights. Had it been a substitute for freedom, the British government’s offer to provide these necessities to the people of India after the Quit India Movement of Congress had satisfied the Indians. Even today in every prison of the world, bread, clothing and shelter are freely provided to the inmates and if it is a substitute to freedom why the rulers of Pakistan do not offer their freedom to a rich nation who could guarantee them these facilities.
“We want to run all our affairs by ourselves and want to be the owner of our own house, because for the last over 60 years we have remained slaves of others who have turned this 28,000 square miles area into a prison for its inhabitants.”
Today not only Pakistan is plundering our resources but also distributing it among other countries like China as well. Anyone raising voice against these injustices is thrown into jail and tortured. The example of Gandayi-Yasen is in front of you, where innocent people protesting for their rights have been put behind bars and are being tortured. By constructing the Skardu, Bhunji and Bhasha dams, the rulers are trying to destroy our geography and culture.
He also criticized the speech of Force Commander Northern Areas (FCNA) at Hondoor in Yasen on Sptember 6 and said it was an eye-opener for the new PPP government. It also negated the decision of COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to keep the army out of politics.
The first BNSO convention aimed to create coordination among the various sectors of the students’ body. Student representatives from Gilgit-Baltistan, Karachi, Punjab, and NWFP participated in the convention.
The BNSO was first formed at Karachi in 1996. BNSO leaders from Karachi appreciated the arrangements made for the convention.
Besides students’ representatives, a large number of nationalist leaders from Gilgit-Baltistan attended the event and spoke on various issues and ways to achieve the objectives of the nationalist parties.
Chairman GBUM and well-known nationalist leader Manzoor Husain Parwana was invited as chief guest on the occasion. BNF’s Burhanullah, who is also GBDA’s secretary general; and APNA spokesman Wazir Shafi, especially came from Gilgit-Blatistan to attend the convention.
President of BNSO Lahore Shamsur Rehman thanked the participants and said the event would go a long way in fulfillment of the objectives of the parties struggling for the rights of the region.
He said the two-day event was aimed to make the students a vital part of the struggle for attaining the rights of the people of the region.
The speakers on the occasion called upon the students to develop unity in their ranks and continue their struggle and highlight the issues of the region.
They said the students can play a vital role in creating awareness among the public about their rights. They also stressed on the need to organize the students at one platform and give them the sense of urgency for launching joint struggle against injustices in the region.
They said the students can also play a prominent role in promoting and spreading the rich cultural heritage of the region which had been ignored by the rulers for the last many decades.

Govt mulls over AJK-like setup for Northern Areas

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
Govt mulls over AJK-like setup for Northern Areas

By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The federal government has decided in principle to give Gilgit-Baltistan a political and constitutional set-up like that in force at Azad Kashmir.
The formal announcement of the decision would be made by President Asif Ali Zardari soon, sources said.
According to sources in the PPP Northern Areas chapter, the federal government while finalizing the proposed draft constitutional and legal package took the leadership of Gilgit-Baltistan on board.
The reports and recommendations submitted by the political leadership of the region regarding the backwardness and socio-economic, political and constitutional deprivation were also taken into account.
The sources also said that to give representation to the region, a politician from the region was likely to be appointed as the prime minister’s adviser who would be updating the PM on the situation of the region.
Besides, empowering of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and making the local administration accountable to the house was also under consideration. Reform in the judiciary and reactivating the public account committee was also part of the package.
Sources said the package announced by former president Pervez Musharraf was also to be implemented in letter and spirit and this regard the PPP leadership of the Northern Areas has held four meetings with the central party leadership after the PPP came to power.
The local PPP leaders have warned the centre that if the region was further kept without a proper constitutional cover, the results would be disastrous, as the area has remained deprived of all constitutional, political and economic rights for the last over 60 years..
Political observers say that this was yet another effort on part of the rulers to hoodwink the people of the region by promising yet another so-called package for the region.

Attack on BNSO leader condemned

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent

SKARDU: Balawaristan National Students Organization leaders have condemned attack on member BNSO Skardu central executive committee King Nisar Husain in which he sustained injuries.
They termed the attack a cowardly act on part of elements who were hell-bent on the division of Baltistan. The BNSO leader was attacked by five hooded men in the darkness of the night and he later remained under treatment of doctors for the injuries.
In a statement issued here, BNF leader including Safdar Ali, Syed Safdar Shah Rizvi, Mehdi Akmal, Anwar Shah, Khawaja Arif Jan and Ejaz Ahmed Khan said the attack was a handiwork of those elements who were perturbed over the rising popularity of the party in the region. They warned such elements to refrain from attacking the BNF and BNSO workers and leaders otherwise the party would no hesitate in retaliating to the attacks.

NA police need reforms

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By A Correspondent

GILGIT: The president of the People’s Lawyers Forum (PLF) has accused local police authorities of supporting those elements whose existence in politics was because of support from sectarian forces.
Amjad Hussain said with the elections 2009 inching closer such elements had been active, but ironically they were enjoying support of the police and other civil officials.
He pointed out that some senior police officials were openly involving themselves in political matters despite the fact
that they were government officials.
The People’s Lawyers Forum leader said the police boss was turning a blind eye to the matter which made him believe that things were going on with his patronage.
Hardly people in the region have heaved a sigh of relief after a long sectarian strife and they can no longer afford any other such episode, he added.
He said one is left flabbergasted why peaceful religious scholars were picked at and criticised though they were not involved in politics.
He said mosques were being used by the elements to grind their own axes and pave the way for their success in the forthcoming elections, adding such moves would be resisted at all forums.
He appealed to the federal government and the local administration to take serious note of what was happening in the region.
He said the police needed to be put on professional lines and reforms were direly required, so that the department could serve the public.

Plan to form nationalist party ridiculed

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent
SKARDU: Balawaristan National Front (BNF) leader Haider Shah Rizvi has said Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory but the members and advisers of the so-called Northern Areas Legislative Assembly have proved their political immaturity and sycophancy by expressing support to the presidential candidate of the PPP, Mr Asif Ali Zardari.
Speaking at a workshop held for the office-bearers and workers of BNF and BNSO here, he also ridiculed the announcement of some NALA members to form a nationalist party and said these elements have always backed the rulers to achieve their own objectives and people of the region were well aware of their track records.
He said such so-called leaders were also responsible for creating schism among the masses of Gilgit-Baltistan by dividing them in sectarian lines at the behest of the rulers and their secret agencies.
He said the struggle of nationalist forces was gaining momentum in the region and the new generation was well aware of their rights and issues. In such a situation opportunist elements have are trying to take due advantage of the popularity of the nationalist and were trying to form a fake nationalist party to maintain their grip on power. However, he said, the nationalist parties will trounce the federalists and all those whose politics was based on sectarianism, regionalisms and hatred in the next elections.
He also criticized the statement of Force Commander Northern Areas and said his declaration of Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Pakistan was illegal, unconstitutional and contrary to the ground realities.
He said efforts were under way to involve the nationalist forces in fake cases in order to put the leaders behind bars and sabotage their struggle for attainment for basic rights for the region.
He also criticized the government for using the personnel of NLI in Fata, Balochistan and said the NLI persons should be deployed in Gilgit-Baltistan and should not be made a scapegoat on Pakistan’s so-called war on terror.
He said they would resists government’s move to lease out Gilgit-Baltistan’s natural resources to outsiders, adding the locals should have right over the utilization of their resources without outside interference.

Speakers for declaring Siachen glacier ‘peace park’

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar here on Monday called for immediate demilitarisation of Siachen and dismantling of all developed infrastructure there, paving way for declaring the area as a `peace park’.
The seminar “Siachen glacier and global climate change: the role of South Asia” was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). The speakers attributed the alarming glacier melting rate to human activities and underlined the need to address this issue at the earliest to avoid future natural calamities and threats to natural resources and human existence.
They also highlighted the military, environmental, climatic, health and socio-economic costs of militarisation and conflict over Siachen between India and Pakistan.
Glaciology expert Prof Dr Khalid Rashid presented a detailed analysis of mass balance of glacier, temperature variation between 1850 and 2000 and human impact on the process of glacier melting or growing. He lamented that due to military exercises and battles at Siachen, toxic wastes were buried in ice which would find their way into the Indus waters, the lifeline of Pakistan, in future. He, however, identified three basic factors – sun, change of axis of earth and human activities – for the rapid climatic change and glacier melting over the last 500 billion years.
Talking about socio-economic costs of Siachen conflict between India and Pakistan and the associated cost of militarisation, Executive Director SDPI Dr Abid Q. Suleri lamented that deployment of troops on Siachen was a huge burden on the economies of both countries and the result of 24-year-long war was nothing except increasing poverty in the region. He urged early resolution of this conflict by declaring it a ‘peace park’ and initiation of a debate in parliaments of both the countries. Citing “Gosh report” of 1986, he said a single ‘chapati’ a soldier ate at Siachen cost $34 and 16 per day to India and Pakistan, respectively, while the expenditures to maintain troops by India alone were calculated to be Rs20 million per day in 1986. “In 2004, Niaz A. Naik and Yeshwant Sinha had jointly conducted a study on the cost of maintaining troops at Siachen and warned their respective governments that the Siachen conflict alone would cost India Rs720 billion and Pakistan Rs180 billion in the next five years while together they will lose about 1,500 soldiers without fighting a war”.
Glaciologist and environmentalist Arshad H. Abbasi said the glacier was retreating at the rate of 110 metres per year. He said the extraordinary melting of Siachen and other major tributary glaciers was caused by human activity, not natural changes, which had not only led to formation of glacial lakes and snow holes but was also responsible for destructive snow avalanches on both side of the Saltoro ridge. Highlighting the worse effects of Siachen conflict over the years in the shape of natural calamities, he demanded immediate demilitarisation of Siachen, declaring all Himalayan glaciers as protected areas. Environmental policy analyst Khalid Mustafa demanded that militaries of both the countries should immediately be withdrawn and infrastructures at Siachen dismantled and brought at the pre-conflict position of 1978/1984. He said civil societies of both the countries should be involved to save this prestigious source of water. “Glaciers in the Himalayas provide headwaters for Asia’s nine largest rivers, a lifeline for the 1.3 billion people who live downstream.”

Jashn-i-Chitral cancelled

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

CHITRAL: A meeting held here on Wednesday decided to cancel Jashn-i-Chitral scheduled to commence from Oct 12 due to the tense situation in the neighbouring districts.
District Nazim Maghfirat Shah said the meeting presided over by him and attended by local heads of different political parties had unanimously decided that it was not appropriate time to make jubilations in the district when the situation in the neighbouring districts was going from bad to worse.
The provincial department of tourism had decided to hold the fair to attract tourists to the area and the chief minister was to participate in the concluding ceremony.
The nazim said he would inform the provincial government about the meeting decision and ask for formal cancellation of the event.
He said the visit of the chief minister to the district would take place as per schedule and all political parties had agreed to give him a warm welcome. He said the chief minister had accepted a request of the district government for visiting different areas of the district to apprise himself about problems faced by their residents. —Chitralupdate.blogspot.com

Animals killed by mysterious disease

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent

SKARDU: A mysterious fatal disease has killed dozens of animals in Tisar village of the Shigar valley but the livestock department has not yet taken any action in this regard, leaving other animals also to the risk.
According to reports reaching here from the affected area, the mostly hit are zhos (a cross breed of yak and cow), zhongos and yaks. The victim animals get sick and become lethargic and dull, and stop eating leading to death in few days.
According to eyewitnesses, examination of the slaughtered affected animals shows that their liver, lung and heart are severely swollen. It has been learnt that so far dozens of animals have killed by this disease and more animals are getting affected.
The villagers say that if the government dos not take any step to control the disease, they will suffer losses and it will spread in other areas. They complained that they brought the matter to the notice of the livestock department Skardu but to no avail. To make matters worse, the livestock dispensary in the area has no medicine for treating this disease.
Residents of the Tisar village have demanded the authorities concerned to take immediate steps to cope with the fatal disease. They also demanded the government for compensation to the affected people.—Dawn

Probe into journalist’s death demanded

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Our Correspondent

GILGIT: The Gilgit Union of Journalists has called upon the government to conduct an investigation into the death of a senior journalist of Ghizer.
In a statement, secretary general of the union, Sharafuddin Faryad expressed shock over the death of Ishaq alias Super Raja and said it seemed that the report of his suicide was concocted.
He said the deceased had a bullet injury to the right side of the temple while he used to work with his left hand. He said in the past too Raja was attacked upon and the government failed to find a clue to the attackers.
He said now some elements wanted to close the case by terming the death suicide. However, the journalists and artists would not allow these elements to succeed in their design.
He said the government should conduct a thorough investigation into the case to expose the responsible and bring them to justice.

Time to eat grass

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
By Samson Simon Sharaf
The army is now called a state within a state, supporter of nuclear proliferation, permeated by fundamentalists and militants in its ranks and file and an institution that pursues big business rather than focus on its primary mission.
Despite suffering over 1,500 dead (the highest figure for any army) in this war, it is still accused of playing a double game. American organisations that once praised now call it ill-organised and badly trained to fight counter insurgency operations in FATA. The hardest criticism has come on the ISI. It is repeatedly accused of hobnobbing with militants and supporting Al Qaeda. This is the outfit busy in unravelling the plethora of intrigues played by diverse actors against the sovereignty of Pakistan operating with the tacit consent of US and Afghanistan.
Methodically, a new theme is being developed. Pakistan’s obsession with India and Kashmir does not allow it to focus unilaterally in FATA. The Taliban in this context are being described as a strategic asset of Pakistan army for its security objectives. The latest accusations to surface relate to the diversion of US funds for building up capabilities against India. No reference is being made to the fact that the mishandling of the situation in Afghanistan in fact adds to Pakistan’s security concerns.
The praetorian mindset within the Pakistan army has made matters worse for the country. The last two military coups of Pakistan got legitimised due to US geo-strategic interests in the regions. 9/11 was an opportunity for an otherwise besieged General Musharraf to get the Americans off his back and use them as erstwhile allies. The short-sightedness of his policy meant that the Pakistani military has been drawn into a most hostile environment – such as in FATA and Swat – where states and a maze of non-state actors compete for influence. The surveillance, intervention and connections of competing actors in the region are so effective that it leaves the local troops with little operational initiative.
The entire resistance and lawlessness in the area has been lumped into two generic names: Al Qaeda and Taliban. Yet many militants groups have the direct backing of operators from US, UK, India, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and now even Iran. Every pro-Pakistan Taliban is outnumbered by diverse strains, each with strings operating it from elsewhere. America has the advantage to operate even from within Pakistan through its bases, embassy and consulates. India has deployed over 20 intelligence units in its consulates to control insurgency inside Pakistan. The insurgency in Swat was created to denude and divert the concentration of the Pakistan army on multiple fronts. According to Shireen Mazari, suffice it to check the record of housekeeping at the Serena Hotel in Swat, to know the type of foreigners that had been visiting there.
Electronic surveillance of the area is so effective that no communications go unnoticed. Pakistan’s allies have the capability to take on these communication centres in real time, yet do not. Many mullah radio stations operate with impunity spewing propaganda against Pakistan. They cannot be jammed with the electronic counter measures of the Pakistan army while America does not seem willing to do this. Spokesmen of Taliban groups talk over cell phones to various news channels for hours but yet cannot be targeted with precision missiles and drones.
Besides the inherent state of insurgency, the movement of Pakistani troops is precariously dangerous. Curiously, there is ample early warning of all the movements of the Pakistan army exposing them to well planned explosive devices (IEDs) and ambushes. Most casualties suffered by troops were result of pre-planned ambushes in which the militants had credible early warning.
Pakistan’s arch-rival has been allowed to move into Afghanistan. Scores of consulates that India has established in Afghanistan are directly linked to instability and militancy inside FATA and Balochistan. While Pakistan can be readily made a scapegoat for cross border movement both in Kashmir and Afghanistan, this does not apply to India.
At the same time, sales of uranium to India from the Nuclear Suppliers Group have been opened implying that India is now free to exploit its indigenous uranium and thorium resources solely for military purposes. There is a constant effort and well crafted plan at degrading Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence. An upsurge in Indian capabilities, stories of proliferation in which all complicit international actors but Pakistan are conveniently overlooked and Pakistani weapons falling into the hands of militants serve to project how dangerous a country it has become. It now appears that everything had been timed in a manner to coincide with the upsurge of hostilities and socio-economic upheaval in Pakistan.
Pakistanis need to understand that in the US scheme of things, the degradation of the army is a key plank in the objective to rid Pakistan of its nuclear capability. Has the time come to eat grass?.—The News

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three strikes & he’s out?

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Cyril Almeida
ASIF is batting on two strikes. Another swing and a miss, and he’s going home. The first strike was the bizarre, abortive handover of the ISI to Rehman Malik.
The second was Kayani’s rebuke the day after Asif was sworn in as president. Ostensibly Kayani’s condemnation was of the Americans, but between the lines was the real target: Asif. Get your act together, the army chief was telling his supreme commander.
Asif has stumbled badly on Afghanistan. The macho men who wanted to defy the American juggernaut on the warpath the day after 9/11 are still amongst us, still advising defiance. The day after 9/11 this was sheer foolishness. But it is no longer the day after 9/11. Seven years of the Americans in Afghanistan and reality has changed. Pick up any report on the West’s adventure in Afghanistan and you will find two things: one, US policy in Afghanistan has been a failure; two, US policy in Afghanistan will not succeed without Pakistan being on board.
In the world of realpolitik, this is known as an opportunity. So why must Asif so cravenly accept the Americans letting loose their Special Ops troops and raining down missiles in Waziristan when he can happily unleash? He had every chance at his debut press conference; instead, he bizarrely chose to speak alongside Karzai. The Afghan president is about as popular in the Pakistani Army as George W. Bush in an Al Qaeda training camp.
What is the problem in Afghanistan? In a word: Karzai. Don’t take my word for it, here’s what The New York Times had to say in an Aug 20 editorial: “Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, must rein in his government’s rampant corruption that has all but driven his people into the hands of the Taliban and criminal warlords.” What then was Asif doing at the side of a man not only discredited in the West but hated by the Pakistan Army?
Another thing: the western – read American – strategy in Afghanistan has failed. Again, don’t take my word for it. Francesc Vendrell, the EU envoy in Kabul for six years, had this to say over the weekend: “We are not destined to fail, but we are far from succeeding.” Earlier, Vendrell told Stephen Sackur of BBC’s ‘HARDtalk’: “I do leave with a sense of regret that we’ve made so many mistakes. … we’ve got to do a hell of a lot to make things right.” In the euphemistic world of diplomacy, this is the equivalent of saying “we’re a disaster.”
Given this record of western failure why does Asif have to be so apologetic for Pakistan’s failure to help out the Americans in Afghanistan? There are 26 Nato and 14 non-Nato countries contributing troops to Isaf. Each country’s rules of engagement are so complex and dense that were the Taliban to walk right up to some Isaf troops and dance a little jig, certain countries would still not allow their soldiers to shoot. Why then must Pakistan always ‘do more’?
Perhaps if Pakistan wasn’t actually doing something about its Taliban problem – somewhere, anywhere – the supine cravenness of Asif before the Americans would be understandable. Except that we are. Bajaur and Swat are being pounded mercilessly, militants are being flushed out, leaders are being knocked off. But the Americans aren’t satisfied because Bajaur is at the northern tip of the tribal belt while they are more concerned with the southern bit. Waziristan, north and south, and the Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Nazir networks exercise the Americans. Meanwhile, 300,000 Bajauris flee the bombing and Ambassador Patterson, de facto American leader in Pakistan, announces that $50,000 has been set aside for “gas stoves, pots, utensils and plastic sheeting”. Well, fantastic. That’s less than the cost of a Hellfire missile fired from a predator. So for Asif to denounce the American forays into Pakistan wouldn’t be jingoistic nationalism – it’s common sense. For one, Asif need only imagine how much less common sense than nationalism there is in the army. For another, he has an unbelievable luxury – he can. Everyone knows the Americans can’t really afford to be on the wrong side of Pakistan. Jack Straw and the French have already distanced themselves from the strikes inside Pakistan. Here’s more from that NYT editorial, with the alarmist headline ‘Afghanistan on Fire’: “Sending American troops or warplanes into Pakistani territory will only feed anti-American furies. That should be the job of Pakistan’s army, with intelligence help and carefully monitored financial support from the United States.” If all these important – western – folk think American Special Ops running around Pakistan and blowing up the place is such a bad idea, why must Asif be so tepid in his criticism?

Local political leadership is knocked out

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008
Local political leadership is knocked out

By DJ Mathal

Once again the so-called political leadership of Gilgit-Baltistan has testified its hollowness. When former president Pervez Musharraf was at the peak of his power, the elected representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan toed his lines claiming that they were supporting the PML-Q for the best interest of the people of the region. But as soon as the downfall of Musharraf came and the PPP ascended to power, these opportunists changed their colors like a chameleon and continued the same mantra of national interest. These elements have caused irreparable damage to the political system of the region during the last over 60 years. As a result, lotacracy has reached its peak in the area.
In fact the people of the region have been voting such elements to power and sending them to assemblies for the last over six decades but the so-called leaders have no vision of their future objectives. This is the reason that public mandate has been insulted time and again. The question also arises here that why Pakistan accepts such turncoat politicians. It is because to perpetuate the Pakistani rule over the region.
Pakistan People’s Party is a well-known democratic party but unfortunately it has also welcomed turncoat politicians into its fold. This time it also seems that the PPP would make use of the PML-Q turncoats to come home to roost in Gilgit-Baltistan.
If Pakistan stopped accepting and promoting lotas in Gilgit-Baltistan, true representatives of the people would get a chance to come to lead and struggle for the rights of the region.

People in Hunza slams job discriminations

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, September 20—–September 26, 2008

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA: The leaders of political and civil society organisations from Hunza have blamed the Gilgit-Baltistan administration for nepotism and favouritism in recruitments for government jobs in which sectarian and regional considerations were being employed by organised pressure groups and mafias that rule the roost in bureaucracy and political organisation of the region.
The population of Hunza valley is about 60,000 and the literacy rate for both men and women is above 80 per cent. The share of Hunza in public sector employment is, however, negligible. A large number of youth were employed in tourism and NGO sectors but both of these sectors were badly suffering due to law and order situation in Pakistan. There is strong feeling of resentment against the discriminatory policies of the present administration.
Talking to this correspondent, Fida Karim, president, Pakistan Peoples Party, Hunza, said that only six persons out of 200 have been appointed from Hunza for National Highway Authority (NHA) police, which is to be deployed for the security of Chinese engineers and builders engaged in the expansion of Karakoram Highway (KKH). This is in clear violation of merit and discriminatory as Hunza is the most affected region since about 210 kilometres of the road out of the total 300kms pass through Hunza.
He said the vacancies were not advertised properly to achieve this end. Hoor Shah, president, PML-N Hunza, also complained that the jobless youth from Hunza, qualifying on merit, were excluded to employ the kith and kin of the influential people.
He said that there were only 50 policemen from Hunza in the Northern Areas Police Department compared to 300 from just one village of Gilgit.
Aziz Jan, Chairman Union Council Gojal, criticised the Chief Executive Ghazanfar Ali Khan for turning a blind eye to these irregularities. He said the Government of Pakistan was earning millions from Hunza by way of taxes, tourism etc but the share of the local people in public jobs was negligible.
Amanullah, convener, Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance said that Hunza was considered the most literate and educated region not only in Pakistan but also in developing countries and this was proved in national and international level exams.
He said Hunza only demands to be treated on merit in appointments and no special favour.
These leaders also condemned the establishment of camp office of the newly announced Hunza-Nagar district in Gilgit. They demanded additional seat for Hunza in Northern Areas Legislative Assembly (NALA) before declaring Hunza and Nagar as districts. They also demanded the posting of Deputry Commissioner (DC) and Superintendent of Police (SP) from District Management Group (DMG) in the newly established Hunza-Nagar district.
Public circles have also condemned the violation of merit in appointments and demanded neutral, high level investigations in recruitment procedures of Northern Area Police. They have also threatened to resist if any discrimination is shown to the people of Hunza valley during the establishment of Hunza-Nagar district and KKH expansion.—Dawn

Public library still a far cry in Chitral


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar karachi Saturday, September 13——-September 19, 2008

Due to unavailability of land, the scheme of construction of a public library in the city was shifted to some other area, sources claimed here on Wednesday.
The provincial Department of Archives And Library had included it in the development plan during the last days of the former MMA government in the NWFP. The district government had to provide a piece of land, free of cost, as no provision was there for purchasing land.
According to the sources, the library department had approached the district nazim Chitral who requested to the revenue department to provide a piece of land near the DCO offices but it was reportedly turned down by the authorities without any reason. “The district government failed to provide land to the department and the project was shelved or shifted to some other district where land was made available,” a source said.
The proposed library was designed on modern lines providing maximum facilities to students, children, women and general public having separate sections. The proposed multi-storied and magnificent proposed building of the library had also the facilities of computers and internet, the sources said.
Meanwhile, residents of Chitral have expressed anguish over the reported shelving of the project and said that the city had no public library which was a great dilemma for knowledge seekers.
They said that the facility was the longstanding demand of locals particularly students and the previous government had fulfilled the dream. They said that the state-owned land in front of the newly constructed Women Hospital should be provided for the purpose while the adjacent residential quarters of the British era, which were in ramshackle condition, must also be used for the proposed library.—Chitralupdate.blogspot.com
Unique cultural programme held at Astore
Ancient town of Astore served as the vital staging town on the only animal transport route between Srinagar and Gilgit before 1947 through Tragbal pass, Gurez Valley , Burzil pass, Bunji and over Indus river. Astore is the nerve centre of link of Gilgit Baltistan with Indian Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir through Shuntar pass and then along Kishnganga (Neelum) Valley to Muzaffarabad. Two very important activities were undertaken here by Mr. Iqbal Astori, in the month of August. Mr. Mohammad Iqbal happens to be the Chairman of Karakoram National Movement (KNM) and now since 31 August 2008, the new chairman of APNA, Bolor Jammu Kashmir.
He along with his companions in the second week of August crossed over Shuntar pass on foot into Pakistani Kashmir, where he was enthusiastically welcomed. It is worth mentioning that last year on 13th August, two Kashmiri youth of National Students Federation (NSF) belonging to POK lost their lives, when they were caught in the high snow clad Shuntar pass in a blizzard. On 28 August 2008, in Astore proper, a huge, unique and grass root level cultural programme was organized by KNM (Karakoram National Movement).
The purpose was to revive ages old culture and customs, in order to revive nationalism and exemplary sectarian harmony among Astoris. The programme started after mid-night and lasted till 4am. Close to ten thousand people including three thousand ladies attended. Two intermission speeches were made by Mr Iqbal and Bashir Ahmed Khan.
Now, APNA has again pondered over its planned but not yet executed programme of bringing together the people of the divided former State at the confluence of the three supposedly interim administrations till the final resolution of the dispute at Gilgit, Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, in the area of ancient Shardha university, close to Taobat area in upper Kishnganga river valley.We want to weigh response of the people of divided former State through discussion forum, so as to execute the plan in the coming season.