Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani game plan

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Dr Shabir Choudhry

Imperial designs of Pakistani rulers are more apparent now than ever before. Those who still don’t understand the game plan of Islamabad are either too naïve, or are puppets and collaborators. In view of many nationalists of Jammu and Kashmir, these people are the main obstacle to our struggle for unification and independence.

It is sad that, Pakistani rulers who are unable to effectively control and govern their own territory is so obsessed with occupying the territory of Jammu and Kashmir which does not belong to Pakistan.

They use tools of 5th generation war and religion to fool people, and advance their agenda in Gilgit Baltistan, so called Azad Kashmir and in Jammu and Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh.

For all practical purposes, they have occupied Gilgit Baltistan and so-called Azad Kashmir; and are actively working hard to destabilise and occupy the territory of Jammu and Kashmir State that is not under their control.

With help of compliant judiciary, the establishment of Pakistan has further strengthened their hold on Gilgit Baltistan. Saqib Nisar, who in view of many Pakistani lawyers was the worst Chief Justice of Pakistan, on his last day gave a controversial verdict on Gilgit Baltistan.

In order to strengthen their hold, Pakistan promulgated the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009, which was challenged by Dr Ghulam Abbas, a local citizen of Gilgit Baltistan. A larger bench consisting of seven Supreme Court Judges ruled in favour of the Ordinance and extended Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to disputed areas of Gilgit Baltistan.

Response of India
Before presenting response of the local people, I would like to point out that India, as a party to the dispute, lodged a strong protest against this decision; and reiterated its claim that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is “an integral part of India”. The Ministry of External Affairs statement further said:
“Pakistan government or judiciary have no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. Any action to alter the status of these occupied territories by Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever”.

India rejected Pakistan’s continued attempts to bring material change in these “occupied territories and to camouflage grave human rights exploitation and sufferings of the people living there”.

Response of the local leaders

Gilgit Baltistan All Parties Conference in its special meeting held to formulate an agreed response, unanimously rejected Pakistan’s Supreme Court decision; and vowed to start a campaign for the rights of people of Gilgit Baltistan. Salient points of the Gilgit Baltistan APC statement are as follows:

1. Pakistan should establish a local authority, as envisaged in the UN Commission for India and Pakistan’s Resolution, and all powers, apart from Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communication, must be vested in the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly;

2. State Subject Ordinance must be re-established in this disputed territory;

3. Judicial system for Gilgit Baltistan should be similar to that of Azad Kashmir, where they have their own Supreme Court;

4. Pakistan should stop sending Pakistani bureaucrats to rule Gilgit Baltistan;

5. Pakistan must end unfair and cruel laws like Schedule 4 and Anti-Terrorism Act to silence voices of the local people.

A view of Azad Kashmiri nationalist leader

Zubair Ansari, Senior Vice Chairman of Kashmir National Party had very serious reservations on this decision. In his written statement he said:

Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision on Gilgit Baltistan is condemnable, and a black law. In his view, the following factors contributed in not making Gilgit Baltistan a province of Pakistan.

1. Article 1 of constitution of Pakistan clearly define Pakistan’s territory, and areas of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are not constitutional part of Pakistan. Article 257 further clarifies the position of these areas which are part of Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir; and are not legal part of Pakistan.

2. Apart from that since 1947, in all international institutions, including the United Nations, Pakistan has repeatedly affirmed that these areas are not constitutional part of Pakistan.

3. Because of the above, Pakistan could not constitutionally make Gilgit Baltistan part of Pakistan, as that was a constitutional matter, and required two third majority in the Pakistani Parliament. Also, that move had international ramifications, and Pakistan is not prepared for this.

4. Furthermore, in case of making Gilgit Baltistan a province, Pakistan needed to have a similar legal, economic and administrative infrastructure which exists in other provinces; and expenses of that alone could be in tens of billions, and the fragile Pakistani economy cannot tolerate this.

5. Also, Pakistan had to give same representation to Gilgit Baltistan in the Pakistani Parliament. Representation in the National Assembly is based on population, whereas representation in the Senate is same for all the provinces. This also required a constitutional amendment; and it is very unlikely that this could have passed.

6. Additionally, as a province, Gilgit Baltistan would have obtained a large sum of money in the NFC award. Pakistani economy is in shambles, and most likely this large amount – in billions – would have come by reducing the award/budget of the other provinces.

7. FATA, legally part of Pakistan, needs additional funds for its development. No province of Pakistan agreed for the reduction of 3% in their budget to help FATA, as they are also starved for funds.

8. Gilgit Baltistan is impoverished territory, and is far behind other Pakistani provinces. By making Gilgit Baltistan a province, Pakistan had to divert massive funds for its development, and funds are not available in Pakistan. That meant reducing up to 25% of budget of the other provinces; and there was absolutely no chance that the Pakistani provinces would have agreed to this.

9. Apart from that, up to now they have treated people of Gilgit Baltistan as a second-class citizens. How could Pakistani elite and politicians accept leaders of Gilgit Baltistan as equals in the Pakistani institutions?

10. Baba Rehmta, nick name for Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice of Pakistan, shrewdly solved the problem for Pakistan, its institutions and the establishment. He extended Supreme Court jurisdiction to Gilgit Baltistan; and strengthened Pakistani hold on these areas without spending a penny, and without hurting pride and ego of Pakistani politicians and the establishment.

11. Baba Rehmta knows very well, that other powerful institutions of his country are already controlling every aspect of social, political and economic life in Gilgit Baltistan, so why spend more money when they are in total control and attaining all the benefits they want.

12. Some fools or collaborators are expressing happiness over this black law, but in my view, more problems and hardship is coming our way.

What other nationalists leaders say

Commenting on these collaborators, Sadiq Subhani, former President of Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party (Britain) in a social media post said:

The leadership that accepts and praise decision of non-Jammu and Kashmir Supreme Court to change disputed nature of any part of Jammu and Kashmir State is a collaborator of imperialists. These people are not helping the Kashmir dispute, their hidden agenda is accession with another state.

Amjad Yousaf, President of Europe Zone of United Kashmir Peoples National Party said:

No institution of Pakistan has any right to change constitutional and legal status of Jammu and Kashmir. Gilgit Baltistan is constitutional part of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir; and any move to change that will be resisted.

All those who are expressing happiness or satisfaction on the decision of the Pakistani Supreme Court are viewed as collaborators. No loyal son of soil can express happiness on attempts of imperialist powers to divide our motherland.

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