Plight of the people of Gilgit Baltistan

Plight of the people of Gilgit Baltistan

 Constitutional, political and socio-economic deprivation, miseries and plight of the people of Gilgit Baltistan Northern part of Kashmir’ Speech delivered by Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri on April, 2008 in European- Parliament Respected Baroness Emma Nicholson, Member European Parliament, Vice Chair Foreign Affairs Committee and Vice Chair sub- committee on Human Rights in the European Parliament, architect of first European Parliament resolution on Jammu Kashmir. Madam Chairperson, Chair IKA Dr Nazir Gillani Sahib, Mumtaz Khan, Vice Chair IKA, Dr Shabir Chaudhry, Abbas Butt Abdul Hamid Khan Chairman BNF, dear journalists, ladies and gentlemen. I would warmly welcome you in this august conference and taking this opportunity to bring you constitutional, political and socio-economic deprivation, miseries and plight of the people of Gilgit Baltistan Northern part of Kashmir. People of Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan have special respect and honor for you Madam Chairperson. Dear Delegates, Before going into the historical perspective of Gilgit Baltistan I would like to present my views on Jammu Kashmir and its political, constitutional, socio-economic, cultural, educational, religious, and lingual history and its long history of relations with Northern Part Gilgit Baltistan. Jammu Kashmir is north western region of the Indian sub-continent. Until the mid 20th century, the term “Kashmir “referred to the Valley lying between the great Himalaya and the Pir Panjal range; since then, it has been used for a larger area that today includes Jammu Kashmir consisting of Kashmir valley, Jammu, Ladakh, Pakistani Administered Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan Chinese administered region of Aksai Chin. The oldest account of Kashmir history is Rajtirangni of Kalhana which was written in 1147-1149 CE.Though Kashmir has long history of foreign occupation but it’s important feature is that the prominent Chak ruler of Kashmir and Ali Sher Khan Anchan who is known as Ranchan Shah in Kashmir was belonging to the Gilgit region that proves that the Gilgit Baltistan region had a strong influence in Kashmir political affairs in the past. Under the paramountcy of the British crown that lasted until 1947 when the former princely state became disputed territory between its neighbors India, Pakistan and China. The total area of the state is 84471 Sq Miles and 12million population bigger than many independent nations in terms of population and area particularly five European countries, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland together. At this point I would say that the founding father of this state was Maharajah Gulab Singh despite our differences with treaty of Amritsar of 1846. I would also pay tribute to the loyalty and patriotism of Maharajah Hari Singh and I would say that If Maharajah Hari Singh had not enacted the law of “State Subject Rule” of 1927 Kashmiri people under different administrations and political systems would have been turned as minority particularly those who live under illegal administration of Pakistan since 1947. Respected Delegates, At this moment when different lobbies are trying to distort the facts and misleading world community I would like to put forward my submissions so that historical misconception can be clearly understood. * It is evident that India came into Kashmir through a treaty of accession while Pakistan infiltrated it’s tribal in Jammu Kashmir and illegally occupied about 36000Sq Miles of State. * Under UNCIP resolutions Government of Pakistan failed to comply with the UNCIP resolutions as UNCIP resolutions clearly asked Pakistan to withdrawal all its armed and para-military forces and civilians simultaneously from state and India was to withdraw bulk of its forces after that. * Therefore, unless Government of Pakistan fulfills the UNCIP resolutions condition, asking India to revisit the treaty of accession and seek the opinion of Kashmiris on the treaty. But it is the duty of Indian government to protect the life, liberty, property and dignity of the Kashmiri unless final solution is sought. While on the other hand government of Pakistan has denied the fundamental rights and freedoms of people of Gilgit Baltistan. We call Karachi agreement as conspiracy against the identity and unity of Kashmiris by the Pakistani authorities and reject it for following various reasons. 1- At the time of Karachi Agreement on 28th April-1949 there was no representative of that region. 2- The people of Gilgit Baltistan are kept deprived, politically, constitutionally and forced to live unprivileged and underdeveloped since 1949. 3- No legislature was formed for the people of these areas. 4- There are no notable institutions like healthcare and hospital except Agha Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP). 5- As Karachi agreement was clearly infringe to the autonomy and fun political, democratic, and cultural and human rights of the people of the region. Through Karachi agreement Pakistani authorities have assumed extraordinary powers and region became sole domain to ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) 6- Muslim Conference and its leadership had no democratically legitimate mandate for the people of Gilgit Baltistan to sign such agreement on their behalf with Government of Pakistan. It is irony that Government of Pakistan takes a very different route to govern the affairs of Gilgit Baltistan unlike in Pakistani Administered Kashmir which consist of 4000Sq Miles was given a nominal institutions like Legislative Assembly, President, Prime Minister, Supreme Court, National Flag and National Anthem, but Gilgit Baltistan which is 28000 Sq Miles was put under the mercy of a low rank officer in Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas. The population of Gilgit Baltistan consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic and religious groups’ isolated valleys separated by some of the world’s highest mountains. Urdu is the lingua franca of the region, understood by most male inhabitants. The Shina language (with several dialects) is the language of 40% of the population, spoken mainly in Gilgit, throughout Diamer, and some parts of Ghizer. The Balti language, a sub-dialect of Ladakhi is spoken by the entire population of Baltistan. Minor languages spoken in the area include Wakhi spoken in upper Hunza, and some villages in Ghizer, while Khowar is the major language of Ghizer. Burushaski is an isolated language spoken in Hunza, Nagar, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), Some parts of Gilgit and some villages of Punyal. Another interesting language is Domaaki, spoken by the musician clans of the region. Gilgit Baltistan is rich in natural resources. Its major resources are gold, emerald, uranium, forests and water blue gold in modern terminology. Government of Pakistan is collecting billions of rupees from the tourism of this area. World highest and tallest peaks are situated in this area. Mount K2 and Godwin- Austin are one of them which attract expeditions and mountaineers across the globe. Trans Karakoram route which is the only link of Pakistan with China trade and commerce but local people are kept isolated of any benefit of such business. This area is blessed of huge assets of water resources. Kashmir has five rivers which are 1. River Indus 2. River Kishanganga 3. River Jhelum 4. River Chenab 5. River Poonch This area is most marginalized in the field of health and education. There is only one university for the population of 2 million people, but no medical and engineering college or polytechnique institute for the population of entire region. The women situation in the area is even worst due to poor health care facilities have deteriorated health conditions in female and they are particularly victim of Pakistani state fundamentalist policies in this area. There are only two colleges in the area and literacy rate among men is 14% and 3.5 % is among women. There is no major hospital in the area except Agha Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP), which is the only Non-Governmental- Organization (NGO) providing primary health care to the people of this area. There is no industry in this area. Water and sewerage system is non-existent so is the electricity where more than two third of the population of the area. The attempts to wage a political struggle through the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC), have been handicapped by the ban imposed by the Pakistani authorities on any one contesting elections unless he or she pledge that the Gilgit Baltistan is an integral part of Pakistan. Similarly constitutional restraints are in placed in Azad Kashmir to bar political opponents from participating in the elections those stipulations are clear violations of UNCIP resolutions. High court of so called Azad Kashmir verdict of 1993 and clear verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1999 define that Gilgit Baltistan is part and parcel of Jammu Kashmir’ and Government of Pakistan was asked to hand over administrative control of this area to the so called Government of Azad Kashmir or least they should be given opportunity to form their own legislative Assembly. But these verdicts went unnoticed under red tape of ministry of Kashmir affairs that enjoys the total control and absolute administrative powers and financial affairs from Islamabad and local people are treated as slaves. More than two hundred political activists are facing so called sedition charges in this area while constitutionally and legally this region is not part of Pakistan. Dear Delegates, I’m grateful to you for your keen interest in poliitical, constitutional and socio-economic deprivation of the people of Gilgit Baltistan and would like to put following suggestions in this regard. • We welcome the end of military rule and installation of democratically elected Government in Pakistan and we should support democratic forces. • We warmly welcome ban lifted on trade unions and students organizations, and we also express jubilance over the release of top judges of apex courts. Yet an independent judiciary is a dream in today’s Pakistan. We should support the Lawyers’ movement in Pakistan. • Borders should be opened between Gilgit Baltistan and Ladakh like some crossing points have been opened in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. • A bus service should immediately be started between Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan so that the divided families and cultural links could be reunited and revitalized between both regions. • We strongly urge world community and particularly European Parliament to establish a fact finding mission to be sent in Pakistani Administered Gilgit Baltistan and in Pakistani Administered Kashmir to see ground realities and particularly the worst situation of earthquake victims of October -2005. • Having regard of the world community most generous support to rehabilitate effected people, Government of Pakistan and local administration in Pakistan Administered Kashmir have failed to do so accordingly. • We urge world community and European Parliament to oversee the funds allocated to earthquake victims and misuse of those funds by the concerned authorities and Government officials. • We strongly condemn attack on a member of Pakistani Administrative Legislative Assembly Mr. Tahir Khokhar who was asking in the assembly about misusing the public funds but was beaten in the house by the government ministers. We demand that independent inquiry should be held in this regard and allegations labeled by him must be fairly investigated. • We recommend that to empower women of the most deprived region there should be special quota be allocated for them so that they can also participate in socio-economic and political advancement of 21st century requirements • We also recommend that to provide them free and cheap justice to the people an independent judiciary of world standard be established for the people of Gilgit Baltistan. ltistanight of the people of Gilgit Baltistan

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