By Ejaz Karim
The federation of Pakistan comprises of four provinces and four non-provincial units, namely FATA, Northern areas now Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Islamabad capital territory. The people of GB have been living in a constitutional vacuum for over 64 years; they are neither given representation in the parliament nor a constitutional mandate to the local assembly.
On August 2009, an ad-hoc ordinance was introduced by The Government of Pakistan-named Gilgit-Baltistan empowerment and self-governance order. Pakistan People Party called it a democratic change in Gilgit-Baltistan-I accept that names have been changed: Executive to Governor and Deputy Executive to Chief Minister, Northern Areas to Gilgit-Baltistan, we can’t complain much about that- no doubt Ministers are increased but budget is same.
It was matter of celebration for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that they are going to have their own Governor and Chief Minister, and the status of so called province. Nothing has been changed at the gross root level, no status of province, no representation either in parliament or senate. We are neither given any administrative setup like Azad Jammu and Kashmir nor facilities which other provinces enjoy. This suspious arrangement on the other hand, increases the prevailing confusion of the local people in order to explain the future status of the area and arises numerous questions: Will a citizen of GB able to be a Chief justice in courts of Pakistan including Supreme Court? Will a citizen of GB able to be chief in Pakistan military forces? Will it be written in syllabus that Pakistan has five provinces? Etc. Three years on- but all the promise seems not more than a betrayal for the people of GB and merely an opportunity of point scoring for Pakistan peoples party. While the area neither get part of NFC award nor separate quota in competitive examinations and seats in various Universities of Pakistan.
Since 1947 the constitutional and administrative status and fundamental human and political rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been discussed between Governments of Pakistan and India. The constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973 of- Pakistan don’t recognize Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Pakistan, It is clearly explained that GB is not part of Pakistan in term of article-1 of the constitution of Pakistan, which spell out territorial limits of the country. But democratic and military dictators introduced various governing reforms in the area under different names in order to align it with the emerging economics and political needs of the country.
Now, it’s the indeed require to clear the stance over GB for both countries- Pakistan and India and give maximum autonomy to the region. Pakistan must change the bureaucratic Government in GB and empower the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) and make its institutional capacity strengthen to work for the people rather than for the bureaucrats and politicians.
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