[OPINION] The Last Colony | Rameez Ali Jerov | Passu Times English

Rameez Ali Jerov

Gilgit-Baltistan(GB) is the place of patience, near to the nature, full of resources, very happy people, polite, decent, hospitable and most importantly “HONEST”. Image of the word honest is very easy to speak out, but it’s quite hard to practice.
GB is the place among the places in Pakistan where one can see the Honesty, Law abiding and other state defined ethics, are in practice.
People got no any rambunctious nature, they even compromise in achieving very basic human rights in Particular from Pakistan even after people sacrificed their lives for maintain sovereignty of the country. One can see the graveyards from Ghizer to Ghanche, from Diamer to Hunza are filled with hoisted flag of Pakistan, certainly for nothing. Political scenario is totally different, they don’t have their own parliament, people do not vote for Pakistan’s national assembly, they don’t exercise any constitutional rights, they do not reward for what they have. These are the reflections of colonial era once it became a cause of birthing new democratic states.
The colonial period was fantastically efficient at the time of rampant discovery, colonial empires like the Great Britain, Spain, France, Russian empire and Portugal were far more dominated over the known world. At the age of industrial revolution, they repeatedly intervene different underdeveloped regions to exploit the certain resources. This process of brutality remains for more than five centuries and the phenomenon of colonialism ended completely in mid cold war era around 1970s. But surprisingly the ultimate colony of 21ist century Gilgit-Blatistan in the place which is under the neo-colonial status governed by Pakistan and the brute power is strengthening day by day. The crisis of a democratic setup in the region has led to constant human rights violations, poverty, low literacy rates, slow economic development and growing sectarian turbulence. While Islamabad 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, the significant majority of these earnings are not allocated for the development of the region.
Gilgit-Baltistan’s legal identity and constitutional status has been disputed ever since the partition of sub-continent in 1947. The area is currently under the occupation of Pakistan, in violation of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) resolution of 28 April 1949. The occupation took place without the consent of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and, despite the UNCIP’s calls for Pakistan to withdraw its forces from the disputed area, the occupation remains to this day.
In 1963 Pakistan handed over 6000 sq. km of Gilgit-Baltistan’s territory to China without perusing the will of people of certain area. In 1970, Gilgit agency, Baltistan district, hill states of Hunza and Nagar, amalgamated to form newly federally administrated Northern areas (FANA). Although Bhutto lifts the infamous FCR, the region remains largely outside of Pakistani politics.  Later in late 1974 and early 1975 under the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto administration, GB has given an advisory council. In 1999, Supreme Council of Pakistan ordered a change in administration renamed as northern areas legislative council. In 2007 after 60 years Pakistan has given territory of Northern Areas its full name as Gilgit-Baltistan, after two years GB employment and self-governance order 2009 announced. So, northern areas legislative council was replaced with legislative assembly. Which is later on said to be Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA). This order ensures the autonomy in GB affairs by local people under again the supreme authority of Islamabad and so-called GB Council which was also stationed in Islamabad. Under this ordinance people has given the right to vote they can select their representative in GBLA with local Chief Minister and a Governor. Through this order GB was given de facto provincial status of Pakistan without constitutionally becoming the part of it.
The new chapter has begun when a federal committee under the former secretory foreign affairs Sirtaj Aziz have documented new emperor order of 2018. This has started to reflecting the colonial status of GB under the Pakistan, many of the articles of this order are for sure exploiting the resources and violating the basic human rights of GB as per defined in UDHR of 1948. For 70 years now, the area of Gilgit-Baltistan is lacking a proper constitutional status, a working legal system and political autonomy.
People of GB are only the ones who are demanding constitutional rights from Pakistan. Groups representing various ethnic minorities also form the joint platform and demonstrating against the imposition of emperor order.
According to United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), has declared Gilgit, Baltistan, Jammu and Kashmir are internationally disputed territories, both respective countries cannot impose any type of order or documented constraints which can cause the exploitation of resources and violating human rights until unless the dispute is settled with the consent and will of people. People of certain places are the ultimate decision makers for their destiny, whether they want to join India, Pakistan or remain independent.
Recently the consequences of black law have been started within a week after its proposition in GB assembly, an under-training Assistant Commissioner of Hunza district threatened local people regarding himself as sole authority to imprisoned citizens for no reason under section of Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA) when they were gathered in a peaceful demonstration for settlement of land acquisition disputes between locals and government.
the deprivation can ultimately effects the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the triggers of economic stability of country. Pakistan needs to stop the process of offering lollypops to mature and polite people, and must not feel regret to give its very basic constitutional rights to GB or Islamabad can also offer state structure like Azad Kashmir with ensuring State Subject Rule (SSR) in whole region. Consequences of this deprivation can be bad news for Pakistan’s movement of economics and stability.

The Contributor is Student of International Relations at Karakorum International University Gilgit. He can be reached at rameez.jerov@gmail.com

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