Provisional province, a dim light of destination | By Justice Muzaffar Ali (R)


Provisional province, a dim light of destination

THE journey of people of GB circumambient on 73 years to reach their destination Pakistan.

They defeated the Maharaja Regime and joined Pakistan. Alas! Their dream turned into a nightmare.

Though, the Pakistani authorities took the control of Gilgit-Baltistan but the bureaucrats ruling therein created hindrances in the way of people to achieve their goal under the cloak of Kashmir issue and the Gbians are roaming around till today.

The bureaucrats, ruled one by one for decades, imposed black laws like FCR to string the people of GB.

Applied principle of “divide and rule”, created feelings of fear in leading sectarian leaders about popular demand of province and also against the demand of its “status at par with Azad Kashmir”.

The ruling class therein succeeded to divide the inhabitants but failed to remove their loyalty to Pakistan.

The general public, despite hindrances created, stood for their popular demands of province or a set-up like Azad Kashmir.

In the year 1971, a strong movement in Gilgit was launched against FCR and bureaucratic system.

The movement was portrayed as rebellion and leading people of the movement were thrown into jail and ground the movement down.

The principle of “divide and rule” also caused sectarian conflicts among the people.

Brotherhood in the primitives since centuries abruptly turned into enmity to the extent of killing each other. Despite that, struggle for Pakistan continued.

Gbians raised their voice even before august Supreme Court and succeeded to get directives against federation of Pakistan to even amend the constitution to give fundamental rights to the Gbians.

The federation of Pakistan gave no weight to the directives issued and thereafter too, the people were robbed of their fundamental rights and ruled over the region through administrative orders.

Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan once in the history rose up to the point that Security Council came forward to intervene into and passed various resolutions for its solution but the Security Council failed to implement its resolutions over.

The superpowers even the UNO tilted towards Indian policies which encouraged India to digest whole of Kashmir region and recently, Modi’s government changed the special status of occupied Kashmir, amended its Constitution and included the entire Jammu & Kashmir in its constitution as Indian union territory.

India became so bold by the friendly attitude of superpowers that she declared Azad Kashmir and GB also as its constitutional integral part.

The changed regional and international political and strategic scenario riveted attention of policy makers in Pakistan to bring into consideration the undefined status of GB.

The responsible institutions are well-versed about regional and international importance of GB and probably Pakistan’s time tested friend countries like China also are of the opinion that the undefined status of GB might pave a way to malafide intention of India to falsely claim its sovereignty over the region.

Therefore, the policy makers in Pakistan are in consonance to give the region constitutional status but with a careful condition to keep alive the Kashmir issue.

The first tier in responsible institutions is unanimous to amend the constitution to include GB as fifth province but the settlement would be “provisional pending disposal of Kashmir issue”.

This decision of Pakistan is as valid as once in history the Pakistan government entered into the boundary agreement with China taking the adjacent territory of GB with China.

The boundary agreement 1963 between China and Pakistan is provisional because of insertion of Article 6 into it.

The agreement neither affected the Kashmir issue nor was it objected by UNO Security Council even India did not object.

Some misguided people from the region and some political leaders from Azad Kashmir raising objections to this solution but, in my opinion, the same is a dim light to reach our destination unless and until it is presented before Parliament and declared GB as fifth province of Pakistan, giving powers at par to other provinces by introducing proper amendments into the constitution.

I am suspicious even today that the proposal might not be confused by the bureaucrats in Pakistan using tactics of red-tapism as the same is in full bloom even in new Pakistan.

People of GB pin their hope only on chief minister who has luckily been selected a member of the Committee constituted by the Prime Minister for formulation of a document after going through the detailed “ifs and buts” arising on the subject.

Since, the young Chief Minister is not only a chosen representative of GB but also a barrister at law from Britain and a practicing lawyer.

He is also descending a well-established and educated family as such he is best to his guard all the time in the meetings.

The people of GB would not accept any twist might be applied by the Committee to give smaller status than that of the status given to the other provinces under the 18th Amendment and an attempt to sabotage by giving a special status as had been given by India to occupied Kashmir under article 370 of its constitution previously or any blarney of Article 257 or 258 of Constitution of Pakistan would not be acceptable to Gbians.

Indeed, as Muslims, people of GB are very concerned about the Kashmir issue as such they have accepted the provisional constitutional status to keep alive the Kashmir issue but no flirt with the pretext of Kashmir issue by the bureaucracy would be challenged.

It is demanded that the territory of GB must be included in the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan by a provisional amendment into Article 1 of the Constitution.
—The writer is a former Judge Supreme Appellate Court, Gilgit-Baltistan.