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5 Facts That Might Put You to Think That Gilgit-Baltistan is Not Part of Pakistan

The legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as Norther Areas of Pakistan) has long been a subject of debate at various political and diplomatic arenas. Despite being in a political limbo and neglected of basic rights that other Pakistanis enjoy, the people of these mountainous regions proudly call Pakistan their home. As a matter of fact, many men and women have put their blood and sweat to bring a good name to this country.

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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The legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as Northern Areas of Pakistan) has long been a subject of debate at various political and diplomatic arenas. Despite being in a political limbo and neglect of basic rights that other Pakistanis enjoy, the people of these mountainous regions proudly call Pakistan their home. As a matter of fact, many men and women have put their blood and sweat to bring a good name to this country.

As the people of Gilgit-Baltistan celebrate independence day, let us look at some facts that might give you a picture of the status of this 73 thousand square kilometer region and its over 2 million citizens.

5. “Karachi Sey Kashmir” Narrative

Map of Pakistan

Map of Pakistan according to the constitution of Pakistan. Based on Dawn News article “Territorial limits”

If you have grown up watching Pakistani TV channels, I am sure you have come across commercials and political speeches that often mention “Karachi sey Kashmir” as a slogan to refer to the whole of Pakistan clearly forgetting about a piece of land that slightly bigger than some 70+ sovereign states in the world.

4. Entire Pakistan; Except Gilgit-Baltistan

KADO internet marketing calls in Hunza

An internet marketing class in progress at a training center in Hunza. Hundreds and thousands of students and freelancers are relying on poor quality internet services provided by SCO. Photo Credits Earnistan

Take the example of 3G/4G service. Recall telecos bragging about “… 3G/4G coverage now in entire Pakistan”. Probably they forget to say except Gilgit-Baltistan.

No PTCL kay cheap internet packages and no NayaTel ka high-speed optic fiber powered internet. SCO is the only internet service provider and outages are quite common.

3. Independence

G-B Heroes of Independence

Heroes who struggled for independence of Gilgit-Baltistan. Yeah, no Quaid-e-Azam there. Photo Credits Wikimedia

For starters:

Gilgit-Baltistan got independence from Dogras, Pakistan got its independence from Brits and Hindus.

Gilgit-Baltistan got independence on 1 November 1947, Pakistan got its independence on 14th August 1947.

Raja Shah Rais Khan was the first President of Gilgit-Baltistan while Liaqat Ali Khan was first Prime Minister of Pakistan.

2. No Representation

National Assembly of Pakistan

National Assembly of Pakistan. Picture Credits: AFP

The representation of Gilgit-Baltistan is confined to a legislative assembly having limited powers.  There is no political representation from Gilgit-Baltistan at the national assembly. That’s 2 million people across 10 districts without a voice at the parliament in country’s lower house (National Assembly) as well as the upper house (Senate).

1. The Constitution

Parliament of Pakistan

Parliament of Pakistan. Photo Credits Senate Website

I am quoting a clause from the constitution of Pakistan:

In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic Of Pakistan hereinafter referred to as the Constitution, in Article 1, for clauses (2), (3) and (4) the following shall be substituted, namely — (2) the territories of Pakistan shall comprise:-

(a) the Province of Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier, the Punjab and Sind;

(b) the Islamabad Capital Territory, hereinafter referred to as the Federal Capital ;

(c) the Federally Administered Tribal Areas; and

(d) such States and territories as are or may be included in Pakistan. whether by accession or otherwise.

(3) Parliament may by law admit into the Federation new States or areas on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit.”

No mention of Gilgit-Baltistan whatsoever, not just in this clause but the entire document of the constitution of Pakistan as well.

PS: Guys, stop calling us Northern Areas. We’re Gilgit-Baltistan.

Imran Hunzai is a Digital Media Consultant and activist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. When free, he likes to travel, do photography and play Rabab. He also runs a HONY inspired blog called Humans of Hunza. Follow him of Twitter @ihunzai.

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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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