UN’s intervention has been sought to address the grievances of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), especially the lack of constitutional rights and educational facilities, particularly for women and children.
The issue was raised by Senge Sering, president of the Institute for Gilgit-Baltistan Studies during his address to the 31st Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland. “The lack of constitutional rights, autonomy and viable and accountable governance structures challenges the educational efforts and sustainable growth of Gilgit- Baltistan,” Sering said on Wednesday.
“We urge the special attention of UN Rapporteurs and Experts on Child Rights, Cultural rights, right to Education, Right of Indigenous Peoples support the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by addressing these grievances,” he said.
Sering alleged that despite progress in basic education, including quality and access to primary school education in other regions of Pakistan; significant barriers persist in regions such as Gilgit-Baltistan, which require targeted and concerted action at the national as well as international level in order to achieve the stated millennial goal of education for all.
Participating in the general debate on Human Rights Situation Requiring UNHRC’s Attention, he argued that Pakistan earns billions in revenue from Gilgit-Baltistan annually from trade and transit, water resource exploitation, trophy hunting, eco-tourism, mineral exploration and direct and indirect federal taxes.
“Yet the significant majority of these earnings end up in coffers in Islamabad and Beijing. To date, Gilgit-Baltistan, a region larger than the Republic of Panama, does not have a single technical, engineering or medical college,” Sering said.
Observing that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed area and remains outside the constitutional limits of the state, Sering said the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Ordinance of 2009 fails to so much as mention the rights of child to education, literacy and other basic services. It provides no means for holding government institutions and officials accountable, he said.