Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Insurgency in Gilgit-Baltistan

The insurgency started in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and tribal regions is underway. At some places, action against it has been very successful some places and at other places it is still going on. It means we have not been successful in tackling this challenge and another challenge emerged at the same time. This is the challenge of Gilgit-Baltistan. The government has recently issued Gilgit-Baltistan Self Empowerment Ordinance, under which the people of this area have got legal status for the first time after Pakistan came into being. This agreement was signed by the Pakistani Government through then minister Nawab Mushtaq Ahmed Gormani and Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, then president Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-administered Kashmir) and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, president of the All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference. According to this agreement, all issues of Gilgit-Baltistan were handed over to the Pakistani Government through a political agent and a constituent assembly was established in Azad Kashmir and an independent governmental set up was established over there. In fact, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are two separate areas.
However, Gilgit-Baltistan had also been managed by the Maharaja of Kashmir in the past. Following independence, as the people of Azad Kashmir started their movement and freed some area through armed struggle, similarly the people of Gilgit-Baltistan expelled the Army of Dogra rule from their area depending solely on the power of their own arms and led by Colonel Hassan. In this way, they confirmed the freedom. The expression of the sacrifice rendered by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and their glory could be judged from the incident that happened afterward when the entire region was presented to the Pakistani Government in a platter after it got independence.

No Permanent Arrangements
It was said that the objective of the expulsion of Dogra Army was not the establishment of a separate state, rather the entire struggle was meant to free the Muslims from the oppressions and barbarism of the Hindu Army and Dogra rule. This objective was achieved. We do not see any difference in the objectives of the establishment of Pakistan, therefore, we happily hand over the power of this area to the Pakistani Government, the locals said.
After this a tragic tale ensued. It has been written earlier that a political setup was established in Azad Kashmir according to the agreement signed in 1949 and the Kashmiri people won civil freedom and rights. However, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan winning freedom in the same way could not win their rights and this land remained without any constitution. Those people did not have right to vote and they did not have any access to the Supreme Court for justice.

Injustice to People
There could no be no more injustice to the people of any area than to deprive them of the governmental and civil rights. However, it happed with the people of this area and it happened because Azad Kashmir is a disputed territory. Therefore, no permanent arrangements could be made over there. As the Kashmir dispute is resolved, the problems of the people would also be solved. However, Kashmir issue has not been resolved for the past six decades and it does not seem to be resolved soon, and those people have been suffering this in the name of the resolution of Kashmir issue and they are still suffering, which created several issues for the region.
The question is: Why Gilgit-Baltistan was given a special status according to agreement according to which a constituent assembly was setup in Azad Kashmir and the people of Azad Kashmir were granted rights and why those people were not given representation in the Azad Kashmir Assembly. Its answer is that it was sheer turn of history or because of their ill fortune that they fell to the Kashmiri Maharaja, otherwise they have never been the Kashmiri people and they have their separate identity. Therefore, they insisted on their own separate identity after they expelled the Dogra Army from their area in the past and avoided from joining Kashmir.
Similar situation is prevailing in areas under Indian occupation that are Laddakh and Leha. India has given them a separate status instead of managing them through Occupied Kashmir (Indian-administered Kashmir) and a Hill Council has been setup over there for this purpose. Several formulas have been applied regarding the Pakistani administered areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. The people of this area have been deprived from their rights and powers for a long time and this endangered several complicated issues.

Support From Known and Unknown Sources
The germs of rebellion crop up among the new generation which was quite natural. Some foreign forces also jumped into arena to grind their own axes particularly India and the United States were also involved to some extent. At this time, the situation is that several organizations have been set up in this regard in Gilgit-Baltistan and outside of Pakistan that are getting a plenty of financial support from some known and unknown sources. They are involved in the activities which could prove harmful for the interests of Pakistan. Even the locals who do not want to become a part of international designs and are quite patriotic think the struggle of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi is their ideal during recent disappointment. A council was setup in the Northern Areas a few years ago. Its major objectives were the same as to remove the unrest of the locals and as this council had a limited mandate and limited authority, this experiment could not succeed. The unrest and anger of the people of this area could not be mitigated. However, this is a new experiment now, and a government has also been appointed for the people of this area. The elections are about to take place for new assembly and for this purpose a separate election commission has been set up. A separate public service commission has also been set up there, and similarly judicial reformations are also underway. The system which is being established in this area seems independent like Azad Kashmir and sometime seems like a province. In fact, it is an amalgamation. Would this "amalgamation" succeed?

Arrangements and Strategy Required
Would this success satisfy the unsatisfied people of Gilgit-Baltistan? This question has no answer for the time being. Its success depends on that the ruling party, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and other parties in that they should make their activities subservient to the collective interests instead of the personal interests. It would have been a lot better if the prime minister, who recently visited Gilgit-Baltistan, would have visited it as a patron and people from every party should have participated in this rally instead of the PPP workers only. In this way, the situation would have been quite different and the challenge emerging thereof would have been easily coped with. As soon as Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment has been imposed, this area has become a victim of unrest. The suicide attacks have taken place and killing is also underway. The terrorists are so bold that they did not feel any obstacle in the presence of the prime minister. There are concrete evidences that India and other forces are involved in worsening the situation further. Therefore, sectarianism and other such different issues are made base for it. There is also a report that the terrorists fleeing NWFP and tribal regions reach over there and launch their actions. Earlier, these terrorists wanted to create problems for Pakistan and China after spreading their network of terrorism on Karakoram Highway through Mansehra. However, now they are heading toward Gilgit-Baltistan and their objectives are the same. Therefore, special arrangements and strategy is required to deal in such circumstances. However, the incumbent Gilgit-Baltistan Administration and bureaucracy did not seem to be capable to coping with these issues.

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