Gilgit-Baltistan:Peace can only be restored in GB if the people of the region stand up and work for it

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By D.J. Mathal

Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA), Wazir Baig, while speaking at a peace conference in the Gilgit city, acknowledged that terror and criminals elements rule the roots in the region. “Criminals roam around freely and the government, as such has, no writ”, he said.

He said that during the recent sectarian killings and violence, five innocent people belonging to the Ismaili community lost their lives. The speaker warned that if the Ismailis could beat back the enemy at the border and get Nishan-i-Haider, surely they can repulse those who endanger their lives in the streets of Gilgit City. Well, that, however, would be a, senseless vendetta one could rationally be sucked into. Mr Baig said he respected religious leaders and Ulema but he had no room in his hearts for those who propagate and promote hatred and sectarianism among the masses. The speaker also said that those who do not like the present government should wait for another two years and, during this period groom educated youngsters for future leadership who can assume a role to lead the nation whatever way they want.

He speaks his heart and what he has said is true. This was not the first time he raised these apprehensions —he, on many occasions, had come hard on the government. The speaker has held Mehdi Shah Government responsible for all the troubles in Gilgit-Baltistan.

It apparently irks the speaker: why the government has failed to provide protection of life to the people despite spending billions of rupees each year on the deployment of security forces in the region? He also feels ashamed of the grave reality that the region has been polarized and divided on the basis of Shia-Sunni faultlines.

Keeping aside the sincere feelings expressed by the speaker, what one can do when the regime led by Mehdi Shah and his coteries is not ready even to acknowledge the realities on the ground. It is because of their criminal negligence, incompetency and lack of vision that the whole nation is passing through these hard days. For the last over three yeas, sensible people from all walks of life had been warning and advising the regime that a lava was boiling in the region and could anytime burst out, bringing irreparable destruction but the rulers hardly paid any heed to such warnings. Instead, they continued the mantra of ‘all is right’.

When the time came when the people were being killed in the streets of major cities and public property was being destroyed, the rulers turned their backs to the public sufferings.

Instead of accepting responsibility and doing something for the resolution of the issues, the dummy chief minister and his stooges tried to put all the blame on the nationalists of the region. He even closed some mosques saying provocative speeches made there were causing tensions among the people. The government is even running after the Khateebs of two mosques in a wishful thinking that this would help control the situation. One of them has been rounded up and the other is on the hunt-run. People can see the contradictions here: if the nationalist were behind the law and order problems why the Khateebs of mosques are being arrested? Secondly, linking the nationalists with the fundamentalist religious elements is another proof of the rulers’ sick mind to find a bogeyman and put all the blame on it.

One figure in the government who belongs to a religious party has also come out with an almost similar claim and these people are, in fact, the one who never want peace in the region and always work to save the law breakers and create confusion among the masses by pointing fingers at others, especially the nationalist parties. These elements also work to promote extremist forces in order to achieve their own agenda.

This is also a fact that very recently the chief minister had, perhaps in a slip of the tongue way, declared that about 2,800 were on the payroll of secret agencies. We do not need rocket science to understand what these 2,800 people have been doing and what is their agenda? Had these people been working on a good cause like promoting sectarian harmony in the region we would not have seen the frequent killings of innocent citizens and the speaker of the legislative assembly would not have come to the open to declare that the whole region runs under a law of jungle. It is these people who work against the interests of the nation at the behest of agencies and then accuse the nationalist of all the mayhem. In fact, these people working at the behest of the agencies of the enemies of peace and tranquillity in the region. If such people are removed from the scene, there region can once again become cradle of peace otherwise we would continue killing one another for decades to come.

It is time everyone in the region, especially the elders, realize that if they continue doing politics and journalism on Shias and Sunnis, the region would continue fast heading towards destruction and mayhem and there will be no prospects of peace in the area. But if they want peace, prosperity and cohesion, they have to come out of the menace of sectarianism and start thinking towards all issues as a nation by discarding the thought of being Shia, Sunni, Balti, Gilgit etc. and save themselves from the conspiracies of the people working on the payroll of secret agencies. Also, it should be kept in mind that peace can only be restored in the region if the people of the region stand up and work for it instead of relying on what the government of the day might do.

Thw writer is Chief Editor of Bang-E-Sahar and he hails from Yasin Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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