ACCORDING to reports, internal processes have almost been completed to grant provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan to meet long standing demand of the people of the otherwise neglected region.
The move would afford an opportunity to the local population to get similar rights as are enjoyed by people living in other provinces of the country and help secure vital geo-strategic route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) besides vital economic and energy interests of Pakistan.
There is no doubt that successive governments in Pakistan tried to meet aspirations of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan through several legal and constitutional packages but all of them remained short of expectations of the people of GB, who wanted their representation in the National Assembly and the Senate at par with other provinces, legal, administrative and judicial systems as exist in rest of the four provinces and fuller autonomy free from the control of the Federal Ministry of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir Affairs.
The sentiments of the local population were reflected by a unanimous resolution adopted by the Legislative Assembly of GB on March 9, 2021 urging the Government to make the region an interim province of Pakistan and to adopt a constitutional amendment to declare GB as a province keeping in view Pakistan’s principled stand on Kashmir issue.
Luckily, there is unanimity of views in Pakistan for grant of provincial status to GB as the opposition too is on board but moves aimed at realization of that objective could not fruition due to estranged relationship between the Government and the Opposition.
There is a misnomer that declaration of the region as a province of Pakistan would harm the country’s stand on Kashmir dispute as the decision would be ‘provisional’ subject to final settlement of the Kashmir issue on which Pakistan has a principled position.
It is believed that joint resistance on Kashmir has also been taken into confidence and they already understand that India relies on twisting of facts and fake news.
They have been told that the new arrangement will have a provision to cater for plebiscite as per the United Nation Security Council resolutions for final settlement of the issue.
Hopefully, the Government would come out with a consensus constitutional amendment bill for the purpose and necessary steps would be taken to meet demands of people of GB so that their sense of deprivation comes to an end.