Transformation of local governance structure in Gilgit-Baltistan/ by Muhammad Panah

Former Northern Area of Pakistan and recent Gilgit-Baltistan geographic territories were comprises on small princely states, head of rulers title were different names in different former states; like Mir, Raja, Tham, Gushpur and cho etc.

Different ethnic groups were living in different princely state; they have their own autocratic governance structure to implement state’s unwritten law and order, the rulers were placed their selected representatives entitling them different title at village level to perform and implement policies and implement state’s rite. Those decisions were taken at village level if the challenges and issues are at village level; while big decisions were taken at top level elites. For that reason it conventionally bottom-up and top-down approaches to settle issue and take decisions.

In 1947 a new state is appeared in the world map in the name of Pakistan, it was long decades struggling and thousands people pay their precious lives sacrifice to get independence.  After immediately independence of Pakistan; on 2nd November 1948 the freedom fighters (heroes) of Gilgit-Baltistan fought with Maharajas and freed the region from the aggressors.  From that day Gilgit-Baltistan’s respectable notable, leaders and elders decided to ally the self-independent region with Pakistan state unconditionally in the base of Islamic brotherhood devotion.

After allying with Pakistan, its democratic central governance started to influence in the region day by day and the small princely states were being demolished and set up democratic governance system throughout the region. After launching democratic administrative structure in traditional and autocratic society, it raised resistance between predominate former states elite classes and pro-democratic governance desirers. The unacceptance and disunity remained in the region for decades between traditionalist and democratic groups; it caused undemocratic culture in the region, reason the democratic atmosphere did not thrived here. In the immature political environment; furthermore different NGOs and community people initiated to form civil society organization in the region, it became third phase of layer of institutionalization in the region. In the same time different International Non-government organizations (INGOs) intervened to work for the community holistic development; due to cultural and social rigidness, years took place to for local people to understand and accept their scope of works, they have formed thousands of village based organization (VBOs) community based organizations (CBOs) throughout Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (GBC) for the community holistic development; however due to having no long term sustainable plans, most them collapsed in the absence of management capacity, accountability and transparency mechanism. The village based organizations realized umbrella organizations at regional level to assist village based organizations to enhance their capacity and accountability. The civil society organizations are the regional organization; its major objective is to assist village based organizations to enhance human capacity and develop linkage.  But it seems that those civil society organizations are in transitional period to deliver their main objectives at grassroots communities.

Despite Gilgit-Baltistan institution’s long periods of journey; they are still incapable to deliver real essence of services at grassroots for the holistic development. Their prime objective is to establish good institutions and raise political awareness; that can elect their political representatives.  For that the grassroots community are still could not to elect their real representatives to deliver community voices up to the Pakistan upper and lower houses; while government development allocated resources go through illegal ways to the unproductive purposes. The second drawback of the political illiteracy is that, local right based political activists are sent in to prison in the allegation of disloyalty with the government. In the recent scenario it should be the top priority of local civil society organizations to work deeply to educate grassroots communities about their political rights and responsibilities and enforce elected political representatives to streamline the allocated development budget for the community holistic development.

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