Connect with us

Astore

[Interview] Why do the people of Gilgit-Baltistan oppose GB Order 2018?

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan including politicians and activists have shown their dissatisfaction over the promulgated GB Order 2018. The order is supposed to replace the existing GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009.

Avatar

Published

on

Afzal Ali Shigri

Dawn News recently did an interview with Afzal Ali Shigri, a former inspector general of police, about the issue. Afzal Ali Shigri, who has roots in Baltistan, has written extensively on issues related to Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. Here is his interview on GB Order 2018 and why the opposition parties along with activists and the general public have rejected it.

Question: Is the new order an improvement on the one introduced by PPP in 2009?

Answer: It is not an improvement because under the 2009 order the legislation on the federal laws was adopted on the recommendations of a council that had the representation of six members elected by the GB Legislative Assembly along with an equal number of members nominated by the prime minister. The GB’s chief minister and governor were also members of this council. In 2018 all these powers have been entrusted to the federal government, thus eliminating even a semblance of an elected body. This will restore the old bureaucratic structure, with the prime minister and bureaucrats, who are not accountable to the people, controlling the affairs of GB.

Q: Why are there such violent protests?

A: The people of GB acceded to Pakistan unconditionally. Pakistan defined the area as a disputed one and started administering it through a black law, the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR)… There was no justification for a draconian law like the FCR. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto repealed the FCR and also abolished the princely states. In 1994 came limited empowerment. In 1999 the Supreme Court ordered the grant of full constitutional rights without disturbing the status of a disputed area. Again the PPP moved forward with the 2009 order.

Now there is a strong realization that the government is denying constitutional rights to the region on the pretext that it’s a disputed territory connected to the Kashmir issue. The demand for the status of a province has grown and the assembly has passed a resolution (on the issue). The government set up a committee under Sartaj Aziz, which recommended that most of the demands should be accepted. However, under the influence of the Kashmiri leadership, its recommendations were ignored. The educated youths understand the implications of these policies and have joined the protest. Use of social media has further aggravated the situation.

Q: Do the people of GB see their fate tied with Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)?

A: The people of GB due to their loyalty and devotion to Pakistan have accepted the linkage of their area with the Kashmir dispute. They, however, do not consider themselves as part of Kashmir. They speak languages totally different from the Kashmiris. Similarly, they have a distinct culture… Their commitment to Kashmir is limited to casting their vote in favor of Pakistan as and when plebiscite is held under the UN.

Q: Is there any legal impediment to GB’s integration with Pakistan?

A: The GB Legislative Assembly has passed a unanimous resolution for their merger with Pakistan as a province provisionally till the settlement of the Kashmir issue. Their demand is based on a historical legal document on a provisional international border agreement with China.

Q: Will granting status of a province to GB have any legal implications internationally that will compromise the stance of Pakistan government?

A: Way back in 1974 Agha Shahi said that legally merger was permissible but India could exploit it. Foreign Minister Inamul Haq observed that international dimension of the Kashmir issue will not be impacted by the grant of political and constitutional rights to the people of AJK and GB. A number of Foreign Service officers have expressed similar views.

Q: Some people say that for too long the GB’s status has remained in limbo. Has it not changed with the new law/ordinance?

A: Change came with the 2009 order. The 2018 order has reversed the structure and reintroduced direct administrative control of federation without any accountability.

Q: What exactly are the opposition parties asking for?

A: The opposition and the civil society want the status of a province. In order to address the issue of Kashmir, they are ready to accept a provisional status. As a matter of fact, the assembly has passed such a resolution. They were forced to vote for the 2018 order.

Q: Until a few years ago people of GB did not even have half the rights they have today. Although progress is slow, isn’t Islamabad moving in the right direction?

A: The federation has ignored a Supreme Court judgment and even the recommendations of the committee set up under Sartaj Aziz. This committee’s recommendations have not even been shared with members of the local assembly. People have waited too long and are not ready to accept the status quo. Even in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the region has not been given its due share.

Q: Is there a viable solution to the GB issue where Islamabad can give the people more rights without compromising its position on the Kashmir dispute?

A: Briefly, the Sartaj Aziz Committee report. Yes, the provisional status of a province. Already examined in detail by a think tank under the former chief justice of the AJK Supreme Court Manzoor Ahmad Gilani. The proposal in their report was the basis for the recommendations of the Sartaj Aziz Committee.

The interview first appeared on Dawn News.

Astore

Aga Khan Agency for Habitat Raises Awareness on National School Safety Day in Pakistan

Avatar

Published

on

Photo: AKAH

To protect school children from natural disasters and other insecurities, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) convened government education departments, academia, district disaster management authorities and the media in Gilgit-Baltistan, Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab.

Mr. Hafiz Noorullah, Education Development Officer, Chitral, said on a radio talk show:

“A lack of awareness and knowledge makes the disaster happen. So there is a need to have more and more information sharing through different media platforms and involvement of young people in interactive discussions to sensitize them on the topics of safety and security.”

Mr. Nawab Ali Khan, Chief Executive Officer, AKAH Pakistan said:

“In the 2005 earthquake, Pakistan lost around 20,000 children due to vulnerable structures and lack of awareness and preparedness, which cannot be repeated. We need our schools to be resilient and better prepared
for similar situations. We are thankful to our public and private-sector partners for joining hands with us to achieve this objective.”

For the last 20 years, AKAH has been designing and implementing programmes on Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation in some of Pakistan’s most vulnerable areas. More than 1,000 schools in disaster-prone areas have benefitted from the development of hazard and risk maps, school safety plans, provision of school safety kits, and awareness raising and capacity building of individuals.

School-level awareness raising sessions have been part of the work of the Aga Khan Agency since the Islamabad Conference on School Safety held in 2008. AKAH’s School Safety Programme will contribute towards the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s one million safe schools and hospitals global campaign, and contribute towards the achievement of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) and the practical implementation of the Pakistan School Safety Framework.

For further information, please contact:
[email protected]

NOTES:
The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), which merges the capabilities of Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, and the Aga Khan Development Network’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative focuses on preparing for both sudden and slow-onset disasters. AKAH works to ensure that people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters; that residents who do live in high- risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response; and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunity and a
better quality of life. Initially, priority areas of AKAH will include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and India.

Read more about the agency at: http://www.akdn.org/our-agencies/aga-khan-agency-habitat

Continue Reading

Astore

Young Soldier from Gilgit-Baltistan Embraces Martyrdom at Siachen

Avatar

Published

on

Lieutenant Azhar Abbas from Astore district of Gilgit-Baltistan has embraced martyrdom in Siachin

A Pakistan Army soldier recognized as Lieutenant Azhar Abbas from Astore district of Gilgit-Baltistan has embraced martyrdom in Siachin at around 2:00 PM on Thursday.

Lieutenant Azhar Abbas was son of former SSP Yousuf Ali.

He was inducted into Pakistan Army through The Pakistan Military Academy’s PMA 135 Long Course (135 L/C) and was deployed at the World Highest Battlefield of Siachen.

Friends, family and social media users have been showing their grief after the news of his martyrdom was posted on Facebook.

According to some sources, Lt. Azhar Abbas passed away due to high altitude sickness. His body could not yet be sent to Astore due to bad weather.

There has been no word from ISPR so far about the martyrdom of
 Lieutenant Azhar Abbas .

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Like us on Facebook

Advertisement

Trending