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So Surprising, Really?

Haider Buluk

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Haider Ali Buluk - GBee Blogger

The very recent victory of Shah Salim Khan in Hunza by-election has obviously been a pleasant non-surprise for his supporters. There also is also a big section of Hunzokutz (people of Hunza) who are very disappointed by the result and some of them have described it as a tragic irony for the supposed largely literate chunk of Hunzokutz. Social media is full of such posts and they are most sincere reactions. However, there is a misunderstanding at the basis of it that takes literacy for enlightenment.

In a typically colonial statement, Major Brown of Gilgit Scouts once described the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as great warriors, more so, because of their lack of political awareness. One has to wonder whether that was true then and more importantly, if it continues to be true today.

Much more surprising then the Mir’s son being elected is the reaction of those who opposed him. They seem not to see the simple patterns going on the political scene of Hunza for more than 3 decades. That the Mir has been elected into power seven times before. The populace wasn’t totally illiterate whenever they did so. Admittedly, Nazir Sabir and Wazir Baig have served as a change once in a while. Yet, they came into power, only when it was PPP holding power in the Federal Government. You could hear people say that it is better to support the government’s candidate to ensure maximum cooperation and benefits from the center. I think this notion came along with the idea of linear liberal development narrative that still rules the minds of our leaders and has caused a lot of cultural damage. These values of compromise and obsolete libertarianism have taken deep roots in our cultures. The people of Hunza seem to have this linear view which needs to change or else they should stop looking so surprised.

GB was composed of a number of small kingdoms for centuries, before becoming a part of Pakistan. So, the introduction of modern political system must have been confusing or unintelligible to most people. Moreover, during the colonial period, the power structure was disrupted and a sort of vacuum came over. Familiarity with modern political methods and awareness of the system might have been more quickly attained if the democratic institutions of the state reached the region. However, both geographically and politically Gilgit-Baltistan stayed remote and isolated.

For over 65 years, Gilgit-Baltistan has remained a disputed territory lacking any say in political processes in the form of what we call a constitutional limbo. After unconditional hand-over of the then Gilgit Agency to Pakistan, the region did not get anything back. Not even as little as representation or basic human rights protection. The country has been benefiting a lot from this region’s strategic geographical location and the sacrifices of its people. But then, the list of suppressive acts by the Pakistani government and the numerous sufferings of the people of GB could go on a lot further. What matters most is how Gilgitis now react. What kind of ideas do they generate? Ideas of complacency or of taking a stand?

So, for those who voice their opinion on social media and at-least think about their issues, good going! The answer to the individuals, who are surprised at the result of the election in relation to the state of literacy in Hunza, is that there is no real correlation between literacy and political awareness. More important than literacy or education are the level of involvement and political awareness. Cognitive mobilization of a person towards political action and decision-making depends more heavily upon political experience than education. Therefore, our friends who keep complaining around on social media have taken the first step, but they need to go on and take part in the real world as well. It is now imperative for our youth to start organizing themselves politically and get more involved.

When it comes down to making real choices about rulers and taking real actions, there might be a variety of different ways at hand. The people of Hunza are not familiar with such methods. Apart from that, collective political action also requires a shared ideology and again the people are not really familiar with developing narratives. So, whatever the ends one might desire, improvement through the power of the people can only be achieved if political involvement and interaction becomes integral to social life.

Haider Ali is studying Sociology at F.C. College, Lahore. He is from Hunza Valley and is interested in studying and sharing his views about the affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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In Pictures: His Highness Aga Khan’s First Visit to Hunza in 1960

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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Aga Khan in Hunza 1960
Photos: Abdul M. Ismaily

On this day in 1960, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan made his historic first visits to Hunza and laid down the foundation of what we know as a model valley today. Since then, Hunza has come a long way and developed into a model valley for many. Every year on 23rd October, Ismailis of Hunza Valley celebrate this day as “Salgirah” to commemorate Aga Khan’s visit to Hunza for the first time.

During the first visit of His Highness Aga Khan to Hunza, photographer Abdul M. Ismaily took numerous photos that remained unseen for decades. However, in 2016, Simerg Photos released a number of pictures of this historic visit with the permission of Abdul M. Ismaily’s family.

On this happy occasion for the Ismailis of Hunza, GBee is pleased to share some of the photographs from Aga Khan’s first visit to Hunza in 1960.

Attached by pulley to the third cable was a wooden box, five feet square, with sides rising 18 inches. This was the only way to Hunza. The five journalists which included two Americans were horrified, and despite urging from Pir Ali Allana, the Aga Khan’s advance man, none would get into the box. Far across the river, men pulled on a rope, and, swaying and shaking, the box shot out over the swift-flowing stream of Hunza River. Today, the Nasirabad Bridge stands in this place.
Ismaili Volunteers with community leaders during the preparations to receive H.H. The Aga Khan at Baltit Polo Ground in Karimabad, Hunza.
Col. Ayash Khan, the brother of Mir Jamal Khan, the last royal ruler of Hunza, is seen standing in a uniform with members of the royal family of Hunza outside the royal palace in Hunza where His Highness the Aga Khan resided during his visit in 1960.
Aga Khan first visit to Hunza Valley 1960
Aga Khan in Hunza 1960

H.H. Aga Khan in conversation with Mir of Hunza.
Aga Khan in Hunza 1960
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Federation of Pakistan has no way but to implement Supreme Court directives

Justice Retired Muzaffar Ali

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Supreme Court's Decision about Gilgit-Baltistan

The constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan is as old as the Kashmir issue. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan liberated their motherland from the illegal occupation of Maharaja Regime. People constituted a local government in the region thereafter, newly created Muslim country Pakistan extended its de-facto jurisdiction over the region but again attached Gilgit-Baltistan to the Kashmir issue.

State of Jammu & Kashmir, ruled by Maharaja before the partition of Indo-Pak, divided into three parts main portion was captured by the Indian army which is still called occupied Kashmir. A small portion thereof was liberated by the Kashmiris with the help of tribal men, which is called Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The third is GB region which is also considered disputed under Security Council resolutions.

Since all the above mentioned three parts were claimed by both the countries, Pakistan claimed entire Jammu & Kashmir state to be its part as per partition agenda agreed upon by the parties while India claimed the Kashmir state as per so-called accession deed made between India and Maharaja Kashmir.

Kashmir issue prevented the two neighboring countries from friendly relations rather thrown them into wars against. That is what the situation became hurdled for both the countries to declare, the parts of Kashmir state in their de-facto control, to be their integral parts.

India gave a special status to occupied Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution while Pakistan also awarded special status to AJ&K through an Act of parliament. People of AJ&K have their own Constitution but unfortunately, Gilgit-Baltistan ruled by executive “Orders” imposed from time to time by the Federal Governments in Islamabad, despite a persistent protest against.

The Federal Governments deprived people of Gilgit-Baltistan from their fundamental and constitutional rights, as such there remained nothing but to invoke the jurisdiction of “Supreme Court of Pakistan” hence the issue was taken to Supreme Court and got a verdict from there with the directions to provide fundamental rights safeguarded by an independent Judiciary guaranteed by constitution even if needed to emend the continuation of Pakistan but the verdict given by august “Supreme Court” in well-known case “Al-Jihad Trust” was turned no ears by the Federation for decades.

Thereafter, many petitions under Article 184(3) were submitted before Supreme Court even the federation itself filed a petition before against an order passed by the Supreme Appellate Court GB whereby, “Executive order 2018” was suspended. The Supreme Court heard all the petitions about the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan pending before, after getting legal assistance of learned Attorney General, counsel for petitioners and even getting the assistance of senior jurists as “amicus curiae”.

During pendency, a committee headed by learned Attorney General submitted a new “proposed order 2019” before august Supreme Court. The honorable Court with the assistance of all the jurists appeared in the case and honorable Attorney General once again visited through the proposed “order” modified and sanctioned it by annexing the same with the judgment announced on 17-01-2019 as part of it and directed forthwith promulgation of the same by the President of Pakistan on the advice of the Federal Government and in any case within a fortnight hereof;

The Federal Government, either on one or another pretext did not comply the mandatory directive of august Supreme Court and used delay tactics to abuse the process of law apparently submitting applications to get an extension of time to advice President of Pakistan to promulgate the attached order.

The honorable Supreme Court did not extend any further time on the application submitted before the Court and during the pendency of the application the Federal government again has taken a U-turn by filing another application to amend the “annexed order 2019”.

The situation jolted bar counsel and other bar associations in GB to resist mala fide move of the Federation and their representatives appeared before on the date of hearing.

The plain reading of the judgment, I have come to the conclusion that the federation cannot introduce an amendment to the “GB Order 2019” unless the same is promulgated by the President, thereafter to the Federation can introduce amendments within the ambit of the directive (II) of SC in its judgment. The amendment application submitted without first compliance of the directives issued by the Supreme Court amounts to contempt of court.

The situation, in this case, is parallel with that situation once has arisen in judicial history when PM Yousaf Raza Gillani using executive tricks impliedly refused to comply the directives issued by the august Supreme Court and had to face contempt of court and resultantly lost his premiership.

During proceedings on 22-05-2019 although the honorable judges (as reported in the newspapers) showed their annoyance through their remarks it seems honorable judges acted upon the principle of judicial restraint, otherwise the Federation might be taken for contempt of court.

In further proceedings, if the Federation insists its plea of the amendment and also requests for getting further time to send its advice to the president for the promulgation of the proposed order which is annexed to the judgment that the legal status may turn towards contempt of court.

The federation must understand that the honorable court has provided judicial imprimatur and permanence to the proposed “order” and restrained the executive from their whimsical interferences and awarded unassailable judicial protection to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in the cited judgment.

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