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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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Crown on the Head of Pakistan

Justice Retired Muzaffar Ali

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Force Commander FCNA Major General Ehsan Mehmood

Recently, Force Commander FCNA Major General Ehsan Mehmood addressed a public gathering in Skardu on the eve of solidarity with people of Occupied Kashmir, illustrated Gilgit-Baltistan as “Head of Pakistan”, and hailed the people living therein with the title “Crown on the Head” of Pakistan.

The signification of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan with the words that, none other anywhere in Pakistan, is more loyal and patriotic to Pakistan than that of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. He uttered these words with a commanding and responsible impression on his face. I borrowed the words of the general for the title of this article.

Indeed, the golden words vocalized from the mouth of the Force Commander Federal Constabulary Northern Areas are recognition and admiration of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by Pakistan Army, of their allegiance to Pakistan. The able military general, from the day first of his
posting, has shown his love and affection to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

He is known to be in reach, to help and to meet grievances of needy people, when, and where his help is requested. The instant example I read in social media and in newspapers, seems great to help a convicted person Baba Jan who is suffering from heart disease in jail. The person was met and shifted CMH Gilgit for his treatment properly on the orders of the Force Commander FCNA himself.

The commander hugs underprivileged and poor in the streets and gives them a sense of protection. The general, in fact, act on the principle that, no army, how much strong it may be, cannot defeat the enemy unless the civil population joins in hand with the army. The positive attitude extended by the force commander is exemplary to other high ups serving in Gilgit-Baltistan. They should also behave alike and avoid a colonial mentality.

Irrebuttable, the other aspect of positive behavior of this man shines and transpires his clear concept of understanding the geopolitical importance of the region. Geopolitical location of the region makes it a gateway to the regional powers, having approaches with each other.

Gilgit-Baltistan is bounded with China, Occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan. A little strip of Pamir prevents to bound this region to south Asian states. Geopolitical importance of the region remains as important today as it was important for the British Government in India because of USSR. The Russian government might penetrate into British India through this region with the intention to spread communist ideology at that time.

Today the superpowers like the USA are worried about China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) between China and Pakistan. The burning of the Indian government and her cries are witnessed from media.

Besides all the above geopolitical importance, if the only issue of water shortage is discussed then too this region having not any less importance for Pakistan. The experts have given their opinion on the subjects that; Pakistan fastly travels towards dryness in the country. Prime minister of
Pakistan also has warned the nation in this regard. Pakistan has the only region, to which nature has bestowed with abundant water reservoirs. Lofty snow clad mountains and huge range glaciers therein are the only hope for Pakistan to meet the severe situation of a shortfall of water in future.

This region is called Gilgit-Baltistan which has been kept disputed by relating the same to Kashmir issue. The present status of GB needs to be reconsidered by the responsible quarters and think tanks in Pakistan, even if, they could not traverse from their previous stance, then; they should realize the ambition of people of Gilgit Baltistan as their fed up to the teeth with the present colonial setup. people of Gilgit-Baltistan want a constitutional status in Pakistan. At least, add power to the status
to occupied Kashmir by enemy country India or the status given to Azad Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan.

The recent verdict given by the Supreme Court of Pakistan can be cited in this regard wherein a safe way out has been directed to follow the recommendations given by the Sartaj Aziz Committee. The federation can
make a provisional province of Gilgit-Baltistan pending disposal of Kashmir issue by amending the constitution as the Supreme Court has categorically held in his verdict that, a provisional province pending disposal of the Kashmir issue is not fatal to the Kashmir issue.

Before departing, I invite the attention of the commander FCNA and 10 core commander to use their good offices to convince federation of Pakistan and the opposition to solve this problem of Gilgit-Baltistan which is in fact the Pakistan’s own problem if deeply understood the issue, keeping in view the importance of the region in present scenario stated above.

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Kashmiris and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Justice Retired Muzaffar Ali

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Kashmiris and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” remains as relevant today as it was on the day in 1948, when it was proclaimed and adopted by the United Nations’ general assembly. A document that, for the first time, articulated the rights and the freedom for which every human being is equally and inalienably entitled. Its global nature is a yardstick by which we measure right and wrong.

The members of the United Nations are signatories to this document, which has an extraordinary vision to safeguard all human beings in this universe from discriminatory treatment by the states or otherwise. Either kingdoms or democracies but unfortunately, despite having such a golden document, there are dire illustrations that, even in most of the member states of united nations, the human beings are being subjugated to, against their will and wishes by the states but UNO discriminatorily ignores rather strengthens such violations of mighty states against the oppressed people within their domination. Kashmir and Palestine are the chronic and popular instances in this regard.

Kashmir is under the forceful occupation of India since 1947 but people in occupied Kashmir never ever surrendered to the atrocities of Indian governments from day 1 of their occupation. The Indian government, once in history, scared and could not control the struggle of people of Kashmir and to rescue herself went to UN, seeking its help in resolving the issue. The UN passed various resolutions, calling for holding a plebiscite in the state. The resolutions were accepted by India.

Prominent leaders of India also repeatedly promised to hold a plebiscite. However, they resiled from their promises with the passage of time, strengthening India’s control through atrocities extended by the Indian army, imposing black laws and their implementation. At this juncture, I really emotionally want to appreciate the tolerance and persistent struggle of Kashmiris in held Kashmir. They really do not bow their heads; India failed to overcome the indigenous struggle and protest of Kashmiris against the pandemonium and forceful occupation of their motherland. They are sacrificing their lives; they are standing in front of Indian army to face their bullet.

Kashmiris always launch their protest and invite the attention of international community, particularly, those powers who are signatories to UDHR, to take notice of violations and cruelties extended by the Indian army against the armless Kashmiris. The stunning, international community, UNO and international powerful states have forgotten the golden document of the universal declaration of human rights and have turned deaf and dumb towards severe human issues in occupied Kashmir, but the Kashmiris never abandoned and their struggle is in progress day by day.

They didn’t lose their hearts that is why they have fixed 5th February a day of their solidarity all over the world to jolt the international community’s conscience to rise against Indian atrocities.

Worth mentioning here that, the Kashmir issue is not only the oldest issue on the agenda of United Nations but is also an unfinished agenda of the partition of the subcontinent. As per the partition plan, it was up to the will of the population of princely states to preferably join either India or Pakistan but in case of Kashmir, Indian army, in violation of agenda, intruded into Kashmir against the will of Kashmiris therefore, they stood up against Indian army, took up arms, liberated some areas of the state and established an “Azad government of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The Azad government has its interim constitution and enjoys a system of their own, joining the struggle for the liberation of their motherland remaining in forceful occupation of India joining hand with the indigenous struggle of people in occupied Kashmir through peaceful struggle and agitations for awakening the conscience of international community.

Gilgit-Baltistan, a region surrounded by lofty mountains, having big deposits of glaciers, bonded to China from one side touching middle south states crossing a small strip of Afghanistan, adjacent with occupied Kashmir from another side. The region remained aloof from the outside world, having its own small states headed by local chieftains up to the last decade of the 18th century. The region was invaded by Maharaja Forces.

There were 2 or 3 mighty wars between local forces and Maharaja Troops but lastly, the year 1 st November 1948. It was the time of partition of United India; the people took arms, liberated their motherland from the occupation of Maharaja government with the zeal to merge the region with Pakistan and acceded to newly born state. Pakistan took the sovereign authority of the region but attached the area with Kashmir issue as per prevailing situation of that time.

The overwhelming native population living there in Gilgit-Baltistan is not Kashmiri by caste. Despite, the region is 3 rd part of Kashmir issue as such the people therein are deprived of their constitutional status in Pakistan since their independence while the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are emotionally Pakistanis and persistently demand their constitutional status. The educated youth of the region is deeply frustrated
about their fundamental rights. The government needs to solve this issue too.

However, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are with the people of held Kashmir from the core of their heart. They support Kashmiri struggle for their liberation from Indian occupation, even, in this regard the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have sacrificed their lives all wars dragged Pakistan by India,
particularly, their sacrifices in Kargil war and Siachin aggression by India are unforgettable and part of history.

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Pakistani Filmmaker Fahad Kahut uses Gilgiti Cap to depict terrorists of APS Peshawar Attack

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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Fahad Kahut Gilgit-Cap APS Peshawar Attack Terrorists
YouTube

Pakistani filmmaker Fahad Kahut has used a Chilasi version of Gilgiti Cap to depict terrorists of Army Public School  (APS) Peshawar Attack in his new short film released on Youtube.

There has been a backlash on social media by activists from Gilgit-Baltistan against the filmmaker for using the Gilgit traditional cap to depict the terrorists involved in the 2014 Peshawar school massacre.

Fahad Kahut APS Peshwar Attack Short-film
A screen grab from Fahad Kahut’s short film on APS Peshwar Attack. A terrorist holding a gun has is shown wearing a Gilgiti Cap.

The director, producer and writer, who describes himself to be “focused on creating narrative films ” has primarily worked on Kashmir issue and published various pro-army publications including an article titled “General Raheel Sharif – A Man living up to the vision of Allama Iqbal”.

“I was also surprised to see this cap. One must take into consideration while using a cultural symbol of any people. The filmmakers have no right to use our caps as something a symbol of terrorism. Shame” said a Twitter user Noor Akbar.

Also read: Three policemen martyred, two terrorists killed in attack on Kargah Nullah check post in Gilgit

“What is your motive behind showing this cultural cap as a symbol of terror – there can be lot of other ways to depict a terrorist why you choose this cap which can not be easily found in any market in down countries except in Gilgit?Shame on everyone who contributed in this video and those who did not censor it. People like you are born to divide the country by showing intolerance and disrespect towards other cultures. Shame on you for using the cultural cap of Gilgit-Baltistan!” adds a Youtube user while commenting under the short film.

However, there are some who think this could have been a mistake. 

Facebook user Shahid Khan comments that maybe the filmmaker wanted to use the famous Pakol or Peshawari hat which has been associated with the Taliban for so many decades.

At the same time, as correctly pointed out by a Youtube user, the Gilgiti Cap, specifically the Chilasi (Diamer) version is very hard to find in the market.

Only the people behind the short film can tell what exactly went behind using the specific cap to depict the terrorists.

Kahut’s short-film Faryad had won IndieFEST Film Awards for short movie on Kashmir in 2016.

Update:

Fahad Kahut has spoken and says it was “merely out of sheer ignorance”.

“have apologized in past and I apologize again, this was merely out sheer ignorance and my lack of understanding of cultural norms back then. I am a huge admirer of GB people and can never imagine to disrespect them. I hope my apologies are accepted.” he commented on Twitter.

Note: The wood color Gilgit cap is not only used in Diamer but also in the districts of Astore, Gilgit, Ghizer and even Kohistan. A black color version of the traditional cap is widely used in Diamer.

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