Connect with us
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

News

Ups and Downs of Supreme Court’s Decision about Gilgit-Baltistan

Justice Retired Muzaffar Ali

Published

on

Supreme Court's Decision about Gilgit-Baltistan

The Supreme Court of Pakistan’s judgment about the constitutional rights of Gilgit-Baltistan was enthusiastically awaited by its people, the Federal Government, the people of Azad Kashmir and even the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Obviously, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were considering the Supreme Court of Pakistan as their last hope to determine their constitutional status which was pending for more than seven decades on the pretext of Kashmir issue. The judgment by the Supreme Court of Pakistan finally came on 17th January 2009 which is now publicly available.

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan, since their independence, are ruled by the Federal Government either by imposing Frontier Crimes Regulation – FCR or through “administrative orders”. Persistent denial of granting fundamental rights and constitutional status to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, in fact, tantamounts to denial of aspirations of people towards Pakistan. The prejudicial attitude of Federal governments compelled people to invoke the constitutional jurisdiction of Supreme Court as last resort to address their basic grievances.

Eventually, they knocked the doors of Supreme Court and the Supreme Court, for the first time, delivered a judgment in this regard in the year 1999. Whereby, the august Supreme Court recognized the fundamental rights of GB as citizens of Pakistan and directed the federation to initiate appropriate administrative/legislative measures, even federation was directed to make necessary constitutional enactments.

Eventually, they knocked the doors of Supreme Court and the Supreme Court, for the first time, delivered a judgment in this regard in the year 1999. Whereby, the august Supreme Court recognized the fundamental rights of GB as citizens of Pakistan and directed the federation to initiate appropriate administrative/legislative measures, even federation was directed to make necessary constitutional enactments.

Also on GBee: Watch Justice (R) Muzaffar Ali’s take on Supreme of Court Pakistan’s verdict on the Constitutional Rights of Gilgit-Baltistan

The Federal Government ignored the above cited judgment and continued “administrative orders” time and again. This worse situation was enough to awake Gbians to protest against. People raised strong protest resultantly, Nawaz government constituted a facts finding committee headed by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, the former foreign minister, to submit its recommendations about constitutional status of GB. The recommendations were submitted to the government but all in vein. The government instead again framed an executive order called The Government of Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018. The people lodged a strong protest against but it was imposed anyway.

When Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf established Federal Government after the General Elections of 2018, the hopes of the people of Gilgit Baltistan were extended with an express impression, to table the point of “provisional provincial status” before the cabinet meeting in pursuance of recommendations made by Sartaj Aziz Committee.

The point was tabled twice before the cabinet meeting but turned down. Khan’s cabinet apparently surrendered before an effective protest launched by the AJK leaders and to cover this U-turn, the government introduced a new “Executive Order”. The Supreme Court attached the new order with the instant judgment calling it as “Proposed Order”.

Read: Interview with Afzal Shigri – Why do the people of Gilgit-Baltistan oppose GB Order 2018?

The “Proposed Order” attached with the instant judgment seems far better than that of previous orders, for its salient features i.e. (a) its preamble speaks about intention of federal government to make GB a “provisional province” till pending disposal of Kashmir issue. (b) It admits the new “order” to be a temporary arrangement till the time constitutional amendments are sought. Despite of above narrated good features in the order, it is again an executive one having discriminatory provisions contradictory to full fundamental rights which can be provided to the people of Gigit Baltistan under the constitution.

The petitioners almost in all petitions have assailed the vires of executive orders including the “Proposed Order” attached with judgment, with the plea that, the executive authorities including the president having no sanction of constitution to frame such orders as no article including article 157 of the constitution empowers them to frame and approve such orders in respect of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The bench while framing questions for their answer in the judgment, totally ignored this crucial issue to frame and to answer. Instead, the honorable bench went to rationalize the “Proposed Order” without going into its vires and constitutional sanction behind it. In my opinion, the honorable bench has exercised dictum of necessity once again to meet the prevailing situation rather go into the issue of vires of the order under articles of the constitution.  The honorable bench provided its auspices to it and bestowed with judicial imprimatur and permanence. The verdict in favor of “Proposed Order” would encourage the executive authorities to resile from their promise to bring a bill before the parliament in respect of a provisional province for Gilgit-Baltistan.

The advantageous aspect of the instant verdict is that, the Supreme Court categorically rejected the propaganda raised by the AJK political leadership holding that, quoted; “that is why we hold that the committee’s recommendations relating to the provision and enforcement of fundamental rights provided by the constitution must be implemented immediately and with full force and effect. As a matter of law as well as morality”. Unquoted, the supreme court is in full agreement with the recommendations made by the Sartaj Aziz committee and it transpires from the judgment, while reading paras 21, 22 and 23 that, a status of provisional province of GB pending disposal of the Kashmir issue is not fatal and injurious to the Kashmir issue, even after introducing amendments into the constitution.

Last but not least, the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict has thrown the ball into the court of leadership in Gilgit-Baltistan who belong to national parties i.e. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League. It is of their task, how they play their influence before their central leadership to motivate them to table a bill before the parliament and to seek amendments in the constitution to award a provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan.  

Justice Retired Muzaffar Ali has served as the former judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit-Baltistan. After his retirement, he regularly writes about the legal aspects of the constitutional rights of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Blogs

Federation of Pakistan has no way but to implement Supreme Court directives

Justice Retired Muzaffar Ali

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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
Advertisement

Like us on Facebook

Advertisement

Trending