Pak SC’s decision – a shock to GB people

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GILGIT: The decision of Pak Supreme Court related to Gilgit Baltistan has come as a shock to people of GB. They fought single handed and earned their freedom without anybody else’s help, and decided to join Pakistan. But even after 71 years, their longings have not materialized. All political parties that came to power made big promises. At one time, it looked as if their hopes will materialize.

At that very juncture, the Kashmir lobby put obstructions and the process was jeopardized. Some other interested people took the case to Supreme Court. But the bombshell of Supreme Court order smashed all their hopes. Now the Court has put a condition that all reforms should be placed before Parliament. This will make passage to reforms more difficult. People are angry with the order.

 Federal Chief Secretary for Gilgit Baltistan Captain (Retd) Khurram Agha, who is a member of the Committee set up by federal government for recommendations of reforms in GB, visited GB and met people from different sectors and delegations. I had detailed discussion with him. From what he said, it seems he is placing same views that have been repeated often. He said the Supreme Court order is the best solution of GB issues.

The order gives people of GB rights equal to all citizens of Pakistan The order has made giving full rights to GB conditional to plebiscite in Kashmir, but it has not refused to make GB a provisional province. We need constitutional amendments for this. The present government does not have needed majority in the House. So, for the time being, it has been decided to give maximum financial and administrative authority. He said legal experts are studying Supreme Court order and the order can be reconsidered. I presented my views. I said people of GB fought and got freedom from Jammu And Kashmir State in 1947. So, our relation with that state was over. Secondly, we have nothing to do with UN resolutions on Kashmir. When resolutions related to Kashmir were in consideration in UN in 1949, GB had already amalgamated with Pakistan and it had come under Pakistan administration. Resolutions of UN mention plebiscite only in Kashmir. No mention of GB is made in any of these resolutions.

All successive governments in Pakistan have kept GB separate from disputed Azad Jammu and Kashmir. First, GB was kept under administration of Sarhad province, and then it was brought directly under federal government control and administration. This continued not only in democratic governments but also under dictators. Observers were taken from GB on central consultative committees, while no observers were taken from AJK. In 1994, first elections were held in GB under party system and a government was formed. In 2009, GB was made an administrative province under federal government.  Order 2018, more reforms were implemented.  Sartaj Aziz Committee recommended making it a provisional province.

The 12 member Committee formed under the present government and all its sub committees also recommended making GB a provisional province. It is travesty of luck that after all this, interference from one single person, all this procedure was sabotaged. People in GB are angry and are losing hope. The question arises why a single person was considered important against 2 million people and highest committees of federal government. This is serious and worth considering. This exposes worth of two legally constituted assemblies and its unanimous resolutions in front of highly placed persons.

Supreme Court’s decision to keep GB issue in abeyance till resolution of AJK plebiscite stigmatizes legal and constitutional status of GB. To add salt to the injury, even if federal government and Parliament want to bring reforms in GB, it has been conditioned to be presented before Supreme Court first. This has provided the government an excuse. Silence prevailing on the issue among elected representatives is meaningful. It was necessary for them to play their roles before people could come into streets to protest. 

But they preferred to keep silent. If individual representatives could not show courage, at least all of them from 10 districts could have come together and addressed a press conference.  But that did not happen. The result will be status quo in GB which will continue. (Daily K2)