Nowadays there is a hullabaloo in Gilgit-Baltistan regarding its constitutional right for the upcoming future. Whatever the Federal Government says, who although has never bothered to think about the region, is the later issue but right now the schism of political parties in the region is very engrossing. There are two main factions, one which tags GB to erstwhile Kashmir, for them denying the affinity of GB with Kashmir is not less than committing apostasy. The latter, which has further branches, has a say that they will get the right by coercing the Pakistan, who on ground reality has never given importance to the issue and region as well.
The following facts are pertinent to mention while describing the region's right saga.
First, Pakistan has never given a hoot to the region, as if the accession was a deal to push the region towards Stone Age. A proverb says, self-possessions are always undermined and other’s possessions seem better is right in the GB’s case. GBians fought and liberated them from clutches of Maharaja and acceded to Pakistan, but in return Pakistan again tagged this region with the disputed territory of AJK and made a deal with them, completely ignoring the locals, which is known as Karachi Agreement. The Odyssey of GB's plight, negligence, and usurpation of rights begins from this agreement. Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance is real ignorance, fits for the dilemma of GB. Pakistan was ignorant and people of GB suffered, but the real issue is, Pakistan is still not interested in the well-being and empowerment of the indigenous people. After six decades have elapsed, people of Pakistan are not even familiar with the name of the region, they consider Gilgit-Baltistan a town in Baluchistan; even the president's speech in a conference indicated the fact when he repeatedly called the GB's assembly members as Baluchistan's assembly members. One can imagine the interest of Pakistan in the region when its president didn’t know, even the name, not the development or empowerment of the region, which they have occupied for more than six decades and, the region is not a small district but it’s bigger than 78 independent countries of the world. Lamentably, Pakistan has overlooked the region with almost criminal negligence and abandon.
The second is the so-called Kashmiri leaders who only hurl threats on the Pakistan's government whenever there comes a way to settle the issue of GB. They only care about is, GB shouldn't be given empowerment, whatever the form of empowerment is because it weakens the Kashmir issue. For more than six decades GBians have lived their appalling lives, even for livelihood sources they have to migrate to other cities of Pakistan because of unavailability of opportunities in the region due to government’s nonseriousness. But when there comes a way to do something in favor of GBians fierce leaders, Ali Gilani, Yaseen Malik et al write letters to the PM of Pakistan and warns him of taking any step which could deter the Kashmiris in gaining their rights. According to them joining Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha strengthens the Kashmir issue, but joining National Assembly or Parliament of Pakistan hurts the issue which they can’t allow at any cost. When one compares the privileges like infrastructure, education, economy, and autonomy they enjoyed or enjoying, it’s an elusive dream for GBians to enjoy such amenities. The fact is, neither Kashmiri leaders nor leaders of Azad Kashmir have ever expressed their concerns for human rights violation in the GB, the only thing they can do is, drag the GB whenever there comes a chance to gain their illicit purposes. Where were these so called leaders who have a soft corner for GB, when sectarian clashes erupted during 1980’s and hundreds were killed mercilessly in the region? Where were these furious leaders when heads of passengers were chopped up openly on Karakoram Highway? Where had gone their concerns for the region when people staged the demonstration for months for subsidized wheat, played a death game with KPK for their own land to get the royalty, and the list goes on. To prove that their maneuvers are right, they establish strong cultural, historical and geographical affinities with the region, the fact is, the region's proximity has always been limited to administrative purposes only.
Third is the antiquated political system in the region. The issue is, politic is sect, caste, ethnicity and personality based instead of vision, mission, and ideology. The oligarchs use sect, caste, ethnicity, and personalities for wooing the vote that is why they easily entice the populace and enjoy their turns with intervals. The oligarchs are central culprits and human rights violators in the region. As they are not elected in accordance with their capabilities and desire to work in the region, they just enjoy the privileges and follow their party visions blindly. Right now this is happening in the region. According to the acting government, i.e. PML-N, they hadn't vowed for the constitutional right of the region. The fact is they had neither vowed nor had any vision; they were just elected because the party was the ruling party in the country and the oligarchs were camouflaged in the sect, caste, and race. Similarly, other parties who are wailing for the failure and noninterest of PML-N for the right of the region are just on the track to improve their tainted image for wooing votes in the next election. In the next five year session, another party will be enjoying the fruits and PML-N would be lashing out the ruling party for what they hadn’t done to be done by them. The fault lies here; the political leaders in the region are manned by the president or premier of the acting government and they are bound to unconditional allegiance i.e. they nod in yes for their statements, whatever it is. Therefore, expecting something big from them is an illusion.
The fact is the late one raises voice against oppression and plight, the more has to pay to overcome and undo the wrongdoings. For more than six decades the GBians followed the political monopoly of the country, but for the first time in the history they have realized and shown their presence that too in a socialized and mannered way. The political and social upheaval in the region is totally different from elsewhere in Pakistan. For instance, when Balochis realized they were suppressed, they blew the railway lines, gunned down the aliens, funded the terror networks, made links with RAW members and the list goes on. When Sindhis realized their rights were usurped, they established separatist organizations and challenged the state writ. When the people of FATA realized that they were subdued they welcomed the biggest terrorist network and opened an unending war with the state, which not only remained confined to the region but spread like a net to the whole country. State writ has openly challenged by different outfits in Punjab and KPK as well. All the separatist movements or organizations like BLF (Baluchistan Liberation Front), Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), Taliban factions are formed by the people who are Pakistani citizens by the constitution. But GBians not being Pakistani citizens refrained from such actions which show their decency, literacy, wisdom, greatness and above all, the love for the homeland.
For the Kashmiris, they have shown that they will no longer be a scapegoat for them. They have different historical facts and facets. Kashmir has been liberated by the intrusion of guerilla zealots in the region, but the GBians have fought their own war for the independence and, they still observe 1st November as the independence day of Gilgit-Baltistan. For the first time in history youths of GB observed the 5th March as Anti Kashmir day instead of Kashmir Solidarity day.
To get the constitutional right GBians have to do something peculiar i.e. they have to stand on their own feet instead of wondering to happen something messianic. One of the important aspects is; they should not be relying on mainstream Pakistani political parties. They should form political parties at the provincial level, which would be free of influence from the central government. This would end the unconditional allegiance to the acting government and party. Moreover, they would be able to present their demands freely without any intervention of the acting government and make them obey the demands. All the political parties would be on the same table when it comes to the agenda of right, regardless of other party agendas.
In nutshell, if Pakistan does not take the issue seriously the situating will be exacerbated further and there could be fatal outcomes. The people of GB have come a long way, proving their loyalty they have sacrificed for the nation when and wherever needed; whether its Kargil war, Swat or Waziristan operations. But the denial of the right by Pakistan hurts their sentiments and now the denial could pave a path to a new direction. Already truncated Pakistan could lose another part if the ignorance continues. The faith, trust and the loyalty of the people in Pakistan are deteriorating because of entrenched social and economic exclusion.