Month: November 2012

Gilgit-Baltistan:Message to the Countrymen- Live and Let others Live

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GILGIT (ET): The religious harmony apparent at a Muharram procession in Gilgit on Friday suggests the scars left by bloody sectarian strife do not have to haunt the region and its people forever.

Dozens of Sunnis led a mourning procession in the heart of the city, where until recently Shias and Sunnis were victims of violent incidents stage-managed by extremist elements. The move is also a blow to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had threatened to attack Muharram processions in Gilgit-Baltistan. G-B’s administration was informed of these threats in a letter by the interior ministry last week.

A Sunni delegation comprising elders and the youth from Kashrote and Yadgar areas convened at the Imambargah in Majini Muhalla, where they joined hundreds of mourners.

“We are here to show support and solidarity for peace and sectarian harmony,” said Mutawali Khan, a senior member of the Masjid Board, a representative body of Shias and Sunnis formed to address a spate of violence which ultimately led to the imposition of curfew in the area in April.

“It is a message to the rest of our countrymen to live and let others live peacefully,” said Khan, who has seen at least five houses burnt to ashes in sectarian clashes near his own residence.

The gesture was not lost on the Shia community. Walking in tandem, people from both sects made it clear the division along sectarian lines was not etched in stone – or rather, did not have to be.

This will also ease the otherwise tense atmosphere of the city. Incidents of violence around the city and on the adjoining Karakoram Highway this year have claimed the lives of nearly 70 people, and left several others injured or emotionally scarred.

According to the G-B chapter of International Human Rights Observer (IHRO), more than 80% of the people in Gilgit suffer from stress triggered by the unfortunate law and order situation, the watchdog’s regional coordinator Mohammad Farooq said in a statement issued earlier.

Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said the occurrence was rare, but not a first. “It’s a rare occasion as it happened after three decades. Congratulations to all those who made it possible,” Shah said at a ceremony where he also distributed compensation cheques among relatives of those killed in recent attacks in Gilgit, Lalusar and Kohistan.

“We are not made to fight each other,” said Shah, implying that anti-state elements, and not the region’s people, were the cause of this unrest.

He reminisced about the time when Sunnis used to serve water to mourners during Muharram.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Mr. Shahid Elected as President ISF

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Karachi (PR) : Mr. Shahid has been elected GILGIT-BALTISTAN President by the representatives from Skardu, Ghanche, Hunza Nagar, Gilgit, Astore and Chillas after a close election which took place under the supervision of Head Research Dept. and VP Central ISF Mr. Ehsan Naveed.

Central President Mr. Farrukh Habib, Central Gen. Sec. Mr. Alamgir Mehsud and the Central Cabinet congratulates Mr. Shahid.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Literature of GB is Generative than rest of the Country

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Karachi (ET): Zeal and zest in literature of Gilgitians is comparably generative than the rest of the country, according to Professor Dr Syed Sohail Iman, the dean of faculty of social sciences at the Karakoram International University (KIU), Gilgit.

He stated this while addressing a discourse on “Malangay Samutari: The collection of Malang Poetry”, a book compiled by Israrud Din Israr and published by Shina Language and Culture Promotion Society (SLCPS), at KIU Gilgit.

During the ceremony, three research papers on the book were presented by local scholars and later Malang’s ghazals were sung.

The first paper, written by KIU Gilgit Lecturer Fouzia Mansoor, stated that while earlier Shina poetry is characterized by exaggeration, mockery and illogical ideas, the author has tried his best to keep Shina poetry from low and vulgar ideas by introducing new concepts.

In the second paper, renowned social scientist Aziz Ali Dad maintained that Malang subjectivity relies on figure and symbol that belong to the mythical past of Shamanism, of which Shaman Khameto is a prominent representative form and from which archetypes of Shina cosmology emergence and influences languages and culture of Gilgit.

The third paper by Government Degree College Gilgit Lecturer Ishtiaq Ahmed Yaad states that the book (Malangay Samutari) determines the poetic tradition in Shina by grasping the literary history of classical and contemporary poetry.

While addressing the ceremony, Shamim Zia, chairperson of the department of modern languages at KIU said that the mission of his department and that of SLCPS is the same.

German Linguist Dr Beate Reinhold appreciated the role of SLCPS for the promotion and preservation of Shina language and culture.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Interior Minister and Accusations

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Karachi (By Noor Muhammad): Interior Minister Rehman Malik has been accusing the people of Gilgit-Baltistan of being involved in the killings in Karachi and Balochistan. In fact, he never lets go of any opportunity to lay the blame for the killings in these places on the people of GB, most probably because he knows that the 2.5 million people, who are not even represented in the national parliament, will not be able to challenge him.

The minister needs to substantiate his allegations with proof, if he has any. If he cannot prove the allegations, then he should keep silent.

A number of people from Gilgit-Baltistan have been killed in Karachi and other cities of the country, but so far none of the killers have been arrested or even identified. Will it be justifiable, in this situation, to say that the people of Pakistan are killing the people of GB? It will not, because, it is not the truth.

Even if some people of GB are involved in terrorism or other crimes, the learned senator shall not mention the name of GB, because they are in no way representatives of the peaceful people who live in the highlands.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Banning of Plastic Bags Urged on Environment Day

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GILGIT (ET): With cloth bags in their hands, high school students went from shop to shop in Gilgit, asking vendors to help conserve the natural environment of the scenic valley by discarding plastic bags. They also participated in a walk that started from Hussainabad Colony, Jutial and culminated at the Serena Hotel, which was one of the hosts of the event.

Besides students and teachers of New Era Public school, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Gilgit Arkam Tariq, management of Serena Hotel, government officials and tour operators also participated in the walk. Along the way, students collected garbage and disposed it at a garbage site. They held paintings and placards inscribed with slogans such as “Say No to Plastic Bags”.

According to an estimate, around 500 billion plastic bags are used annually, or almost one million are used per minute, across the globe. To make matters worse, approximately 60 to 100 million barrels of oil are required to make these plastic bags each year.

As plastic bags are non-biodegradable and take over 10,000 years to decompose, they are a cause of major environmental concern.

At a ceremony held after the walk, the students presented skits wearing cloths bags and plastic bags.

DC Tariq said the administration will ensure implementation of laws concerning the environment as part of its contribution to the cause.

Individuals, companies and organisations around the world have been celebrating “Responsible Tourism Day” since 2005 to assist and build a sustainable future for the travel and tourism industry. Often confused with other types of tourism, responsible tourism is defined by the 2002 Cape Town Declaration as tourism that creates better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit

Gilgit-Baltistan:Silk Route Opening May Transform Regional Progress

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LONDON (News): Pakistan has been urged to utilise the potential Gilgit-Baltistan to connect itself with Central Asia, Afghanistan, India and beyond.

Influential right-of-the centre think tank The Henry Jackson Society held an event titled “Gilgit-Baltistan: South-Central Asia’s Socio-Economic Integration and Regional Politics” at the House of Lords which focused on reviving the infamous southern branch of the Silk Route to help transform the resource-rich region from being a battleground of three nuclear states into a hub of trade, tourism, economic integration and cultural exchange.

Baron Sir Clive Soley of Hammersmith facilitated the discussion and the panel consisted of Mumtaz Khan, Executive Director of International Centre for Peace and Democracy, and Senge H. Sering, President of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies. This is for the first time that Henry Jackson Society, which has the backing of several senior politicians and ministers linked with the ruling Conservative party and military, hosted an event of this nature.

Senge H. Sering stated that revival of travel across the line of control between Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh would help more than ten thousand divided family members meet each after almost seven decades. At the same time, it will help revive the Himalayan culture to counter rapidly growing extremism as well as transform the economy of the poverty stricken region. Gilgit-Baltistan can interlink Central Asia with Ladakh, Nepal and Tibet which will boost potentials for eco-tourism and bring the much needed revenue, he said. The recent statements by US Foreign Minister Hilary Clinton, he said, on reviving the Silk Route were encouraging and have brought Gilgit-Baltistan into the limelight.

He emphasised upon Pakistan to revise its policy such as the confidence building measures (CBMs) on different regions of the former princely state of Jammu & Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan. He said: “The people of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve to enjoy same travel facilities like the one currently exists between Kashmir and Muzaffarabad.

 The idea of liberalizing trade between India and Pakistan cannot materialize if the border remains open for some people while closed for the others. Gilgit-Baltistan has the potential to enhance regional trade to tens of billions of dollars however; such a trade should be able to bring prosperity to the local people while promoting political stability in the fragile region.”

 Mumtaz Khan, Executive Director of International Centre for Peace and Democracy, described how closed borders, a lingering war and presence of armed forces and Taliban affiliated militants have impacted the religious, cultural and economic composition of Azad Kashmir, and how the opening of trade routes could contribute towards greater stability in the region.

 He reiterated that closed borders only help areas like Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan become spawning grounds for the extremists.

 He said: “The people of the Himalayan regions will confront the extremist elements and become allies of democratic governments when they will see monetary benefits coming from liberalized trade, tourism and travel across the ancient Silk Route. Governments cannot reform the societies on their own and they need to rely on local communities as their partners in eliminating terrorism.”

He urged the governments of India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to expedite work on the TAPI gas line which will interlink economic destiny of all these warring nations.

He talked about Indo-China trade models which has help commerce boom to over $70 billion despite lingering border disputes.

He said that border disputes should not be used as an excuse to deprive people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan the right to free travel and trade with their kith and kin across the LoC.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Shahida Gul will Present the country in International Youth Exchange Program

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GILGIT (ET): A youth volunteer of Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRSC) in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) will represent the country in the International Youth Exchange Programme to be held in Japan this month.

Shahida Gul, a ninth grader at Sir Syed Public School Gilgit, belongs to Yasin Hundur valley of Ghizer District. The PRCS management gave her a farewell at the Gilgit office on Thursday.

Organised by Japan Red Cross Society in collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Science and Technology, the exchange programme will be held from November 14 to November 28 in Tokyo.

“Around 70 youth form over 23 countries will participate in the Youth Exchange Programme and we are proud to see a girl selected for it,” Safdar Khan, an official of PRCS Gilgit office said.

PRCS G-B Chairman Asif Hussain, Vice Chairman Imdad Ali and Provincial Head Ghulam Abbas were also present on the occasion.

Gul will fly from Islamabad to Tokyo on November 12. Besides her, another student, Asadur Rehman, an eighth grader from Karachi, will also be representing Pakistan in the exchange programme.