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Needed an agreement with Islamabad

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Member Senate standing committee on human rights Afrasyab Khan Khattak has said that no proposal was under the consideration of the federal government to give more powers to Gilgit-Baltistan. In an interview, he said that the federal government was itself embroiled in a political impasse due to the ongoing sit-ins in Islamabad and cannot even has spare time to deliberate on the recommendations sent to it by the Senate committee about Gilgit-Baltistan.
He also poured cold water on the claim and demand of some political parties to make the area the fifth province of Pakistan by saying that in the presence of the UN resolution Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be made a province of Pakistan. However, the senator added that there is an article in the 1973 constitution under which the people of the region can be given temporary citizenship of Pakistan.
We are of the view that for the last many decades the federal government has been playing a cat and mouse game with the two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Even a layman can understand that the area cannot be made a province of Pakistan otherwise it could have been made years ago. This issue is linked to the foreign policy of Pakistan which is based on the issue of Kashmir that has always been the main excuse for maintaining a huge military by Pakistan. Making Gilgit-Baltistan a province will mean that Islamabad has buried its decades-old policy on the issue of Kashmir and the military establishment will never want to seem this. So keeping these facts in view one can say that those who demand making Gilgit-Baltistan the fifth province of Pakistan are living in a fool’s paradise or they have their own. Vested interest to mislead the masses and create confusion in their minds.
Among these people, the chief minister Mehdi Shah has been in the fore front in demanding the provincial status claiming that this would not leave any impact on the Kashmir policy of Pakistan.
Under the UN resolutions, GB is a disputed territory and its final status is to be determined by the indigenous people under a plebiscite to be held under the auspices of the UN. So in such a situation, the chief minister, his cabinet members and all the federalist political parties should not make demands that cannot be met under any circumstances.
We can go for a way out till the issue of Kashmir is resolved and the local people are given the right to decide about their future. During this period, Pakistan should enter into an agreement with the people of GB giving the right to the local people to form their government to run their affairs and utilize their resources for the betterment of the area without any outside interference.
As far as giving temporary citizenship of Pakistan to the people of GB is concerned, Pakistan should hold talks with the people to ascertain what they want. Now it is another matter that Pakistan knows well that the issue of Kashmir will not be resolved till Qiamat and as such the people of GB will remain the most affected ones of the legacy of the British colonial rule in the subcontinent. At the same time. The situation for Pakistan will continue going from bad to worse and it is also a fact that the country is facing internal threat to its integrity more than from external threats and its development and prosperity are marred so severely that it cannot recover. On the other hand, India is continuing development and progress after crushing all internal strifes and suppressing the voice of the Kashmiris.
Besides, due to its rising economic importance India is gaining the importance in the world which Pakistan cannot even thing of in decades so in such a situation it seems highly unlikely that Pakistan can force the UN through diplomacy or India by any means to give the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. In such a situation Pakistan has no other viable option to adopt as regard to GB than having an agreement with its people and if Islamabad does that it heaven will not fall rather it will get a moral high ground for emancipating the people of the region and it will also be good for the interest of the country. On the other hand, if Islamabad continues its cat and mouse game with the region the sense of deprivation among the people of the creating more trouble for the rulers.
It is also important to learn a lesson from civilized nations. The referendum for independence in Scotland is a good point to know how the British government took up and respected the wishes of the Scots. It never tried to crush their demand by using force rather gave them an opportunity and in the referendum they rejected the independence option.
Use of force has never ever succeeded in suppressing the voice of any people and secondly no nation can be kept subjugated for an indefinite period of time. So Pakistan one day has to give all the rights to the people of GB that would also be in its own interest and the sooner the rights are given the better it would be for Islamabad. It is also a matter of urgency to get the federalist political parties of the region realize that blindly following the dictates of the rulers sitting in Islamabad can never be productive in this period of information revolution. Pakistan through the backdoor entered into a clandestine agreement with the Kashmiri leaders in 1949 and took over the administrative control of Gilgit-Baltistan and on the basis of that dubious document still ruling the area. It is now mandatory that the political representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan should ask the federal government to abolish that unrepresentative agreement and have an agreement with the genuine political representatives of the region and give the area people a say in managing and running their day to day affairs.




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