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Love thy neighbour: Initiative launched to re-establish ties between G-B, AJK

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GILGIT:  An initiative has been launched to re-establish ties between Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

HunzaNews, June 18th, 2014.

G-B’s relationship with AJK slumped after it was tied with Islamabad instead of Kashmir following independence. The disconnect fueled mistrust among residents, deepening the divide further with time.

Over the years, G-B and AJK, which are part of the larger Kashmir conflict, remained at odds. G-B’s relationship with the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir remained undefined as a result, with some terming G-B a part of Kashmir and others disagreeing.

“G-B is part of Kashmir and denying it is tantamount to belying history,” said Shaukat Ali, a resident of Gilgit who also runs Rajput Welfare Organisation, at a workshop on Tuesday.

Organised by an NGO, Green Development and Welfare Organization (GDWO), the workshop was held under the title  ‘Promoting economic linkages and socio-cultural harmony among the business community of G-B and AJK’.

A delegation from AJK comprising traders, academicians, journalists along with NGO and public representatives attended the event besides participants from G-B.

“This initiative is meant to restore the centuries-old bond between the two regions for the benefit of both,” said Tahir Aziz, programme director at Conciliation Resources, a London-based NGO working on peace building. “It is time both the regions overlook their minor differences and work together for the larger interest of the people.”

Altaf Rao, a journalist and researcher from AJK, stressed restoration of historic routes, which have become obsolete over the years, further deepening the divide.

Terming G-B a part of Kashmir, Manzar Shigri, a resident of Gilgit, welcomed the initiative and urged authorities to step up the exchange of delegations to overcome the trust deficit.

Adnan Rahman, a professor in AJK, suggested setting up campuses of AJK universities in G-B besides offering fellowships to faculty for visits to G-B.

G-B Assembly Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed lamented successive AJK governments’ lack of interest in G-B, adding relations would improve if rulers increased their interaction with each other.

Adviser on Culture and Tourism Sadia Danish asked organisers to share the recommendations of the workshop with the government, adding it would help the government take steps to normalize ties with AJK.

“We should work together for our rights.

 Express Tribune

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