Gilgit-Baltistan:Consensus needed on GB Governance Model

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Karachi (By Raees Kamil Jan Baigal): In my last four years of interaction with youth, social Workers, political party leaders, and the public, I have found amazing confusion in Gilgit-Baltistan, especially on issues related to understanding of the fundamental and constitutional rights.

Its seems that this grand confusion is an outcome of an organized drive for keeping us divided, and to defuse any serious drive towards change with regards to fundamental rights. I base this conclusion on the following grounds.

We are confused; because, we have never tried to understand why we, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, were kept isolated and made a part of the Kashmir dispute.

Why, despite of keeping us as a part of Kashmir, we were not given full rights or status like AJK in Pakistan?

What role Kashmiri leaders and so many Kashmiri funded, foreign funded, organizations played to merely talk on the constitutional question of GB?

Local, national and international lobbies, organizations, rights bodies and civil society voices were never raised for the rights of Gilgit-Baltistan, while at the same time these Kashmiri groups in Europe and International Forums held full presence and space.

It seems that since our case in totally mixed up here, revolutionary steps cannot works in Gilgit-Baltistan, s a result of an organized division, because of which we are not on the same page. On faith basis we have divided our demand. We want either provincial status with inclusion of Kohistan and Chitral or merger with AJK, Independent State or a Fifth Province, depending on our sectarian interests and orientations, without or without understanding of the demand’s background dynamics. Because of this plethora of demands, read divisions, our strategies for gaining rights are not working.

Every Group is advocating and getting connections with pro and anti-groups in the world and within Pakistan, to either make or get through constitutional drive or rights movements.

In present scenario, when the demand for fifth province is gaining grounds, one can easily observe and analyze the the moves and drives of different groups, for or against the demand. These moves, unfortunately, are not based on understanding of the issue, but on other grounds, discussed earlier, which makes the demand hollow and devoid of meaning, or impact.

The division in our society has mixed up many things, which includes transformation of self-governing rules and procedures with desired and demand of people in GB. Now, our Assembly has passed a Resolution with majority of the members supporting the demand of complete provincial statues for Gilgit-Baltistan.

The “Self Governance Order 2009″ has added further confusions to the governance mechanism, with GBLA and GB Council competing for power and authority, each having its own “list of legislative powers”.

At the same time, although we are paying huge indirect taxes and remitting billions of rupees to the Federal exchequer, we are not gaining much in return. Despite of having CNIC and passport, we are unable to cast our votes in Pakistan, but mega projects have been started in our land, without giving us due representation in the Council of Common Interests and the National Finance Commission, to ensure equitable distribution of resources.

In this state of confusion, we have to build a road map based on a rational consensus, derived from the people’s governance model Of Gilgit – Baltistan. In this context, two options come to the mind, one being the Provisional Provincial Setup, as proposed by Justice Gillani (Retired Chief Judge Supreme Court of AJK in PILDAT) or AKJ type of setup, which will still leave a lot of questions unanswered, related to formal representation in federal institutions. There are indications that the GB government is working on “Provisional Provincial Setup”, as proposed by former PM, Mr. Gilani.

Announcement and promises aside, Gilgit-Baltistan’s youth is demanding a clear route, with defined outcomes, but in this state of confusion and chaos, there is little hope for attaining the same. Meanwhile, we can wish for slow and steady progress towards realization of the common dream and desired goals.

The writer is youth activist.

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