How Azad is `Azad Kashmir’
How Azad is `Azad Kashmir’
By Sultan Shaheen
If you want to study the situation in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and cannot go to even the minuscule part of this region designated as `Azad Kashmir’, the best place to go to is England. Bradford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Luton, Slough and Southall are perhaps even better sources of information about the POK than Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bagh Rawalakot and Kotli. For the Kashmiris living in Britain breathe free air that it not much available in the so-called Azad Kashmir. Even if you so much as apply for a job you have to sign an affidavit saying you believe in the ideology of “Kashmir banega Pakistan” (Kashmir will become Pakistan).
I happened to be in England on the eve of recent election in `Azad Kashmir’. Meeting `Azad’ Kashmiris in Britain proved revealing. The politically active among them have organised themselves on the lines of politics back home. Nearly all political organisations and ideologies are represented. They all appear to be working against India and, except JKLF, pro-Pakistan. Their activities range from the ridiculous to the more sober. I come across some Tehrik-e-Kashmir activists in Birmingham attempting to impose a boycott of Tilda rice supposedly imported from India. They are aware that India is far too big and powerful a country with a vast capacity to take losses to be bothered with such nonsense. But they think this helps them spread hatred against India. On the other hand they are making a serious and somewhat successful attempt at lobbying political parties, media and bureaucracy to convince them of the genuineness of their case against what they call Indian occupation of Kashmir and serious human rights violations.
But this is a superficial impression. Beneath the surface, most of them are disgusted with Pakistan and many of them find India’s handling of its part of Kashmir, despited the obvious difficulties and current hostilities, more commendable. Several people, for instance, mentioned that while India has respected Kashmir’s age-old practice of not allowing outsiders to settle down in the valley, Pakistan has allowed over 28,000 Afghan families to settle down and fleece the local populace in the name of Jihad. These Afghans are even more exploitative that the Hindu baniya ever was, they point out.
The comparisons are endless. Kashmiris in the valley are better educated and better skilled. They have their own university with medical and engineering colleges. Some of us, particularly Mirpuris may be more prosperous, they say, but that is only because we managed to come to England when we were virtually thrown out of Pakistan as we lost our livelihood in the wake of the construction of Mangla Dam. The reference to Mangla Dam always brings out either complete silence in pro-Pakistan circles or vociferous protest from those who are not so particular about living with Pakistan. This Dam is said to supply 65% of the electricity needs of Pakistan, but the so-called Azad Kashmir does not get any royalty. Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Agency (WAPDA) is estimated to be earning over 50 crores from the electricity produced at Mangla, thought the total budget of the Azad Kashmir is in the vicinity of 10 crores.
The most talked about issue, of course, is that of Northern Areas which has been virtually swallowed by Pakistan Army. It comes in the news periodically only when there are Shia-Sunni clashes in the area of firing by the Army to quell anti-government demonstrations. In a historic judgment when a Kashmiri chief justice of the High Court dared to say a couple of years ago that the area was a part of Kashmir and had been illegally occupied by Pakistan Army, he instantly became a hero. Similar enthusiasm was shown by the Kashmiris towards Raja Mumtaz Hussain Rathore, the last PPP `Prime Minister’ of the so-called Azad Kashmir, who started taking up the issue of Northern Areas followed his dismissal and detention by the last Nawaz Sharif government.
This leads any discussion in the direction of almost complete denial of democracy to the so-called Azad Kashmir. While India has at least one or two free and fair elections in the valley, notably in 1977 and 1983, the Pakistani Establishment has dismissed and installed governments of `Azad Kashmir’ at will. The only party that has not been able to do so is Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People Party as it is not considered a part of Establishment even when in power.
It is hardly surprising in view of such perceptions of the Pakistani Kashmiris that they throw out Sardar Qayyoom’s obscurantist Muslim Conference which has ruled them for most of the last half a century at the first available opportunity. They did that in 1990 and they have done that now. Sardar Qayyoom’s protestations of massive rigging by the PPP government in Islamabad is unbelievable. All that she had to do to win elections there was not to concede Sardar Qayyoom’s demand of allowing the Army to conduct elections.
Sardar Abdul Qayyoom Khan’s ruling Muslim Conference has been virtually wiped out in the small part of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) designated as “Azad Kashmir” where generally farcical elections are held intermittently to buttress the fiction of its Azadi. He has blamed massive rigging for his defeat. This is predictably music to Indian ears. We have ourselves faced similar allegations in international as well as sections of national media in regard to recent elections in our part of Kashmir. But by playing up Sardar Qayyoom’s incredible claims in our media and in the diplomatic circuit, we are simply playing in the hands of Pakistan’s right wing obscurantists, Army and the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).
Indian media pundits and bureaucrats may have valid reasons to regard the ruling Pakistan People Party headed by Ms Benazir Bhutto and even its so-called Azad Kashmir branch as communal or obscurantist and anti-India. Obviously they must have more impeccable sources of information and intelligence. But the people of the so-called Azad Kashmir have been consistently told since the formation of PPP itself that it is secular, anti-Islam, anti-Pakistan and pro-India. The Pakistani media, the Sardar Qayyoom government, indeed the entire Pakistani Establishment has indulged in this propaganda on the largest possible scale for years. And yet they have chosen to give a massive mandate to this supposedly secular, progressive, pro-India party. Whether or not the PPP is secular and pro-India is not the issue. The fact that despite this widespread perception, the people of this piece of POK have chosen to elect it again must mean something to us in India. There is so clearly some message in this massive PPP victory and we should try to understand and interpret it in this light. Our hatred for Pakistan seems to have blinded us and we are reacting mindlessly.
Sardar Qayyoom’s party has ruled the so-called Azad Kashmir (I prefer to use this term rather that the popular POK, as this area is actually less than half of the POK) for most of the last half a century. He has himself ruled as President as well as Prime Minister for decades. he retains the love and affection of the military-bureaucratic and feudal-industrialist complex that rules Pakistan as ever. He is the darling of the obscurantist elements in the Pakistani Opposition, despite his son Sardar Ateeq’s shenanigans. he had himself come to power in the present instance through a farcical election following an undemocratic and immoral, though constitutional and legal, dismissal and even detention of the last Prime Minister Raja Mumtaz Hussain Rathore who headed a duly elected People’s Party government.
The rule in Pakistan is that the movement changes hands in Islamabad, the so-called Azad Kashmir government is dismissed and a new one installed through a farce of an election unless this happens to be a Muslim Conference government headed by Sardar Qayyoom. Following this glorious tradition the last Muslim league government headed by Mr. Nawaz Sharif had dismissed Mr. Mumtaz Rathore, detained him and installed Sardar Qayyoom. But Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s PPP has never been allowed to follow this tradition. When she came to power a couple of years ago, she was widely expected to reinstall Mumtaz Rathore. She would not have required to rig the elections to do so. For reasons that we will discuss later the people of the so-called Azad Kashmir are fed up with the Sardar Dynasty. Indeed Ms. Bhutto is not capable of rigging elections there or anywhere else.
Ms. Bhutto came to power for the first time having won elections that followed President Zia-ul-Haq’s death in August 1988, she was told that as chairperson of the Kashmir Council, she had the power to dissolve the Kashmir Assembly order fresh elections. She was considering the popular demand for dismissal of the Muzaffarabad government. But Sardar Qayyoom criticised Ms. Bhutto’s policy of normalisation with India “to undo the Islamic ideology and weaken the Pakistan Army”. He wrote to President Guhlam Ishaq Khan: “We will not allow a pro-India government in Azad Kashmir,” He made it clear that he would not accept the electoral verdict if the PPP won. And despite all the pressure from the people of Pakistan Occupied `Azad’ Kashmir and her party she could not topple the Sardar government. Sardar Qayyoom completed his tenure in 1990.
Informed people are aware that Pakistan is ruled by a troika. A Pakistan Prime Minister can only do things with the concurrence of Washington and the local Establishment which includes the Army, ISI, Bureaucracy, Business, Feudal and Obscurantist elements. Ms. Bhutto’s PPP was allowed to stay in power because for a variety of reasons not germane to this discussion she was for the moment begin tolerated by the two other parts of the troika. But she had very obvious limits to her power. She had enough powers thought to ensure that elections in the so-called Azad Kashmir are not rigged by any part of the troika including the Pakistani Establishment which would have loved to see Sardar Qayyoom back in power. All that she needed to do was not to concede Sardar Qayyoom’s persistent demand to allow the Army to conduct the elections.
Why did Ms. Bhutto allow Sardar Qayyoom during her second term to continue for so long and complete his full term again is thus no mystery. She was under intense pressure from the Sardar government. But she continued to be so incensed with Mr. Nawaz Sharif who had earlier dismissed and detained the PPP Prime Minister Raja Mumtaz Rathore that she was seriously considering taking them on in this case. This was when, according to my sources in PPP, a new element entered into the picture which proved decisive and finally saved the Sardar government.
President Laghari of Pakistan visited India and met a delegation of Kashmir valley’s pro-Pakistan leaders. This delegation pleaded with him to persuade Ms. Bhutto not to dismiss Sardar Qayyoom. Their argument was that in the absence of Sardar Qayyoom the network supporting militancy in the valley would be disturbed. A PPP government there can obviously not be trusted to support the right wing network. Their second argument was even more important. Islamabad dismissing a duly elected Muzaffarabad government without any apparent reason, thought constitutionally valid and legal, would be clearly immoral and undemocratic that it would weaken their case that Kashmir’s identity and autonomy would better protected by Pakistan that it is with India. Even though Pakistan has a history of such undemocratic dismissals, this particular dismissal at the height of militancy in the Valley would prove disastrous, so pleaded Hurriyat leaders. Despite all his sophistication and persuasive arguments, my sources tell me, it took President Laghari two and a half hours of intense pleading to dissuade Ms. Bhutto from dismissing Sardar Qayyoom’s government.
One wonders if the pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leaders in the valley are now pleading with Sardar Qayyoom not to accuse PPP government in Islamabad and his own government in Muzaffarabad of massive rigging in the elections. For, this too weakens their case of Kashmir’s accession with Pakistan. It brings to light the farcical nature of `Azadi’ in the so-called Azad Kashmir. Of course, even this so-called Azadi is not available to the hapless people of the majority area of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir designated as Northern Areas. The vast areas of Gilgit and Baltistan have simply vanished from the face of the earth as far as the Pakistan Constitution and other legal documents are concerned, though until 1954, Pakistan used to supply maps that showed these territories as a part of Kashmir.
The Muslim Conference alleging massive rigging is indeed ridiculous. The People’s Party massive mandate in Azad Kashmir represents not so much its own popularity as it articulates the disgust of the `Azad’ Kashmiris with Pakistani Establishment. The Muslim Conference is seen as this Establishment’s local representative despite its regional character. Ironically, the People’s Party Kashmir unit is seen as more representative of the regional aspirations despite this Party’s all-Pakistan character.
The plight of Azad Kashmiris calls for a separate write-up. What we can say here is that economic factors like lack of development of any industry, communication facilities, exploitation of Mangla dam for providing electricity to 65 per cent of Pakistan without any compensation, no local university, no local bank, no new bridges over the river Jhelum and so on do weight heavily on the minds of `Azad’ Kashmiris, what they resent most is their virtual slave status in the Constitution, new tensions in the wake of settlement of over 28,000 Afghan families, militant training camps and the inevitable rise of obscurantism due to almost uninterrupted half-a-century rule of the Muslim Conference. They have been told for years now that the accession of Kashmir valley to Pakistan is round the corner. But neither the proud Suddhan tribals, nor the wealthy Mirpuris (most of them have relatives in England) are prepared to accept the inevitable domination of the better educated and numerically stronger `hatos’ as they contemptuously refer to the Kashmiris of the valley in case Kashmir is united.
It is easier for an Indian to sympathise with you, regardless of the folly of your pursuit. With your emaciated body, you are the only Gandhi-like figure on the kashmir horizon. Despite your militant past, the country appeared to have accepted your protestations of peade when you renounced violence. Released from captivity, you received the best media attention any Kashmiri leader had got, perhaps with the solitary exception so Shabir Shah. But when you went on fast for three days in Delhi nevently to focus attention on human rights violations in Kashmir, there was hardly an mediaperson or realy any one else around. I wonder if you have been wondering why.
I wanted to ask you-what are doing with Hurriyat, Yasin Saheb?-when I visited you on the second day of your fast. But you were in no dondition to converse. You have been taking so much on yourslef, despite ill-health. Also, the question would have been a trifle awkward with so many Hurriyat leaders, including Chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq surrounding you.
You and Shabir Shah are the two prominent leaders who are associated with peaceful means of protest as well as what is called the third option, independence from both India and Pakistan. As other members of the Hurriyat Conference still stand for accession with Pakstan your association with Hurriyat has always been rather intriguing. Now this question has acquired some urgency with the recent declarations of the Hurriyat chief during his recent trip abroad. At a news conference in Washington, he said: “No Third Option exists on Kashmir. All components of All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, despite their diversity have accepted this. The Kashmiris have to decide in a plebiscite whether they should opt for India or Pakistan.”
Hurriyat’s total and rather desperate dependence on Pakistan become even more pronounced during the last SAARC foreign ministers’ conference in Delhi. Senior Hurriyat leaders like Umar Farooq, Sayed Ali Shah Geelani adn Professor Abdul Ghani met the visiting Pakistani foreign minister Sahabazda Yaqub Khan and criticised Islamabad’s efforts to improve trade relations with India. They felt Pakistna’s business interests might overshadow the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Since Pakistan seemed keen to remove trade barriers with India under the SAARC agenda, they feared it might ultimately not give that much importance to the Kashmir issue.
That Pakistan was getting ready to dump the Kashmiris and perhaps concentrate on improving its battered economy had become clear to me, Yasin Shaeb, several months ago. You couldn’t have forgotten what happened in Leicester, U.K. last August. Expartriate Kashmiri leader Dr. Ayyub Thukar had organised a conference of Kashmiri leaders from India Pakistan as well. No one turned up from Pakistan. This became particularly embarrassing for the organisers because two people arrived even from India – the present writer and Mr. Subodh Kant Sahai. Finally, Islamabad, probably after much coaxing and cajoling, instructed its deputy High Commissioner in London to attent the conference who was able to reach there only for the last session.
One can hardly blame Pakistan, though, for this state of affairs. In the case of proxy wars this is almost routine. This is what Shah of Iran did with Mulla Barzani’s Kurdish secessionist movement in Iraq. This is what Saddam Hussain does with Iranian Kurdish secessionists in Iran. Support them, use them, sell them and dump them is virtually the norm.
As Pakistani pro-occupation with tis impending political and economic disintegration grows, Hurriyat is bound to grow even more desperate. It is bound to shout louder and louder from rooftops higher and higher ist protestations of loyality to Pakistan. It is for leaders like you, Yasin Saheb, to think if Hurriyat is correctly representing your point of view. Shabbir Shah has proved smarter. He has manoeuvered himself out of Hurriyat at the right time. I wonder if you would reconsider your position vis-s-vis Hurriyat before it is too late for you to extricate yourself out of the mess that Hurriyat is beginning to sense it has got itself into.
Member of The Month JANUARY 2010
pOk's is the same as pakistan itself.I felt the fascism,bigotry on the name of muslim ummath is ridiculous,racist.these mirpuri's are supporting pakistan just for the sake that they are also muslims(albeit sunni vs shia).
When Will these people learn that Democracy is Haraam is One of The Biggest Lie?When will they learn that hate learned from childhood persists till the end?
Living in Denial -most of the Muslim Countries are doing .Let us See India.For pakistani's studying in madrassa's it is a 1000 year old barbaric "hindoo" kafir state.This kind of Hate mongering only makes them Bigots.the unwarranted Jew,Christian and Hindu hate is the symptom of severe indoctrination making terrorists.
Stars and Ambassadors
Azad Kashmir is as 'Azad' as North Korea (DPRK) is 'Democratic' :p
i dont give a damn if azad kashmir is azad or not.
if people there are happy with what they are, its fine with me,none of my problems.
but if they ever feel like INDIA as there home-their motherland,they can come to us,damn count on us to do away with their problems.........we would be more than happy to shut THAT problem up! and accept our brothers back to our heart.
that is if and only they feel indian from heart
Well ,some Does RPG(Roll Playing Games) though ,as Indians:Especially in Foreign Countries. .I feel ,when the terrorism will be Crushed By the Humanity ,these people will know the valuable time they wasted in blind hate.
How Azad Is Azad Kashmir?
How Azad Is Azad Kashmir? - Imphal Free Press
The Government of Pakistan has for long demonised the Government of India on account of India’s forced domination and control (sic!) over Kashmiri territory. As far as the Government of Pakistan is concerned, the State of Jammu and Kashmir should have acceded to Pakistan and not India, after partition in 1947. The Pakistani state rests its case on the supposed fact that there exists a religious and cultural affinity between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. To bolster its claim on the area, the State machinery in Pakistan also indulges in a media blitzkrieg to engineer public opinion at the international and regional levels. Coining and popularising the term “Azad Kashmir” while referring to the Indian territory that it has forcibly occupied is one prime example, it is perhaps time that one questions : how azad after all is “Azad Kashmir”?
A historical view would be handy as a preliminary introduction to the subject. The state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Union of India on October 26, 1947 vide the instrument signed by Maharaja Hari Singh the then ruler of the State. Interestingly, the accession was precipitated by the unwarranted attack on Jammu and Kashmir State by the Tribals from Pakistan. The Pakistan sponsored Qabailis were beaten back from Baramulla due to some heroic actions by the hastily deployed Indian Army. However UN intervention led to a ceasefire and the area forcibly occupied by Pakistan’s stooges came to be known as “Azad Kashmir”. This was only the beginning of Pakistan’s devious machinations. While a small part of the captured territory was to be known as “Azad Kashmir”, a major chunk was classified as Northern Areas. This accounted for more than five times the area of “Azad Kashmir” and comprised the Baltistan and Gilgit areas. This huge chunk of area is not constitutionally a part of Pakistan, nor does it have a constitution of its own. The result is that the people of the area have no guaranteed fundamental rights, nor the facility of self-expression. The travesty of justice develops further.
The Northern Areas are devoid of any kind of development. Male literacy hovers at 14 % while female literacy is an abysmal 3.5%. There is one doctor for 6000 people. There is no radio or Television station. The area has no adult franchise, no Provincial Assembly and no representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan. In essence, it is an area clueless of its status in the political scheme of things. Such is the state of affairs in an area forcibly occupied and then quietly removed from the international glare by disassociating it from Kashmir. This then is the level of commitment that Pakistan has towards Kashmir and its right for self-rule!!
The situation in so-called “Azad Kashmir” is no better. On the face of it, the territory has its own constitution but the contents of the constitution are highly prejudicial to the territory’s sovereign interests. Part 2 of Section 7 of the Constitution states, “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan.”
Along similar lines, the oath of office for the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, Speaker, Members of the sham Legislative assembly and legislative Coulcil of “Azad Kashmir” clearly includes: “That I will remain loyal to the country and the cause of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan.” This caveat alone signifyies the contempt to which the government of Pakistan hods the demand for plebiscite so close to the hearts of the separatist leaders of J&K. So devoid of moral right is the country’s claim on “Azad Kashmir” that it has to be reiterated time and again.
The fact is that from 1947 to 1960 Pakistan Occupied Kashmir was devoid of franchise. From 1960-75 the only elections held were indirect. Pakistan occupied Kashmir has effectively been governed through the Ministry of Kashmir affairs in Islamabad and through a Chief Advisor who is of the rank of a Joint Secretary in Pakistan’s bureaucratic structure. Section 56 of the constitution of “Azad Kashmir” provides Islamabad the right to dismiss the government of POK, a right Islamabad exercises regularly and with complete impunity. Such is the “azaadi” available to the denizens of “Azaad Kashmir”.
A 2008 report by UNHCR determined that Pakistan administered Kashmir was “Not Free”. As detailed by Human Rights Watch in a 2006 report on the region, individuals and parties not supporting Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan are barred from fighting elections, taking a job with government institutions or accessing education. Women are not granted equal rights under law. In fact such is the stranglehold and intolerance of the State machinery that in March 2007, the government suspended advertisements in publications by the Dawn media group because they dared to suggest that the Government of Pakistan was providing tacit support to terrorist activity in the region!
The truth of the matter is that Pakistan needed the Kashmiri territory for strategic purposes and it has often been called as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan. Now both POK and the Northern areas serve as colonies of the Punjabi elite that holds sway in the politics of the country, they are being suppressed by what can be termed as the proverbial iron curtain. No dissent is allowed and political dissent is ruthlessly suppressed if not summarily eliminated. The proceedings in the two areas are not open to media scrutiny because of which not much is known about the plight of the people over there. Not only are the abundant natural resources of the region being looted with impunity a diabolic plan to change the demographic pattern has been applied over a sustained period of time with resounding success. Soon the ethnic population will become a minority in its own land. The concerns of Kashmiris or their right to self-determination do not figure in Pakistan’s scheme of affairs.
Far from being an independent state, “Azad Kashmir” is not even a “true blue” constituent part of the Pakistani federation. It is in fact a colony of Pakistan probably one of the last to exist in the world! It is incumbent upon the world community to engage itself with the happenings in this lost region which may one day erpt as an epicentre of terrorism and turmoil.—(ADNI)
Mob Control Manager
[mod] Thread opened now for discussion[/mod]
Name sake . Development in so called Azad Kashmir is far less than Indian kashmir. Wat a irony, so called Azad Kashmir is suppose to be independent country but they have Pak currency and there so called prime minister is elected by Pak govt, wihtout any election. Thats wat i called azad !!!!!!!!!
Pakistan turning gilgit-Baltistan, into a crown of thorns
Pakistan turning gilgit-Baltistan, into a crown of thorns - Imphal Free Press
The Government of India took nearly two weeks to react to the order issued by the President Zardari calling the Northern Territories of Jammu and Kashmir as Gilgit-Baltistan and trying to give the impression that the Pakistan Government is giving the people there ‘empowerment’ and ‘self-governance’.
As expected, the Government of India reiterated that the Northern Territories, now given a new name, are an integral part of India. The Government of India also protested against the construction of dams in Azad Kashmir as well as Gilgit-Baltistan.
According to reports, the Chinese are going to construct a dam on ‘build-operate-and transfer’ basis in Gilgit-Baltistan. The dam is expected to cost around seven billion dollars and when completed will generate 7000 kilowatts of electricity.
The Government of India has been expressing its sympathy for the demands of the people of the Northern Territories, who are mainly Shias and Ismailis. They have very little in common with the people of Pakistan or of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
The people of the Northern Territories have been directly ruled by Islamabad through what is known as the Ministry of Kashmir and Northern Areas (KANA). Agitations for democratic rights have been brutally put down by the Pakistan Army.
The area is strategically important as it borders China and Afghanistan and is adjacent to areas where the NATO forces are fighting the Taliban.
The new order seeks to give the impression that Gilgit –Baltistan would be enjoying the same status as other provinces of Pakistan, which is far from the truth. Gilgit-Baltistan will have no representation in the Pakistan National Assembly.
The order claims that Gilgit-Baltistan will have a Governor, a Chief Minister, an elected Assembly and an independent judiciary. But in fact, all the powers rests with the Council of eight unelected representatives, which will include the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.
There is provision for the election of seven members of Gilgit Baltistan , but even then they will be not have a majority.
What has intrigued people in Pakistan is that there has been no discussion in the country before the issue of the ordinance. There was a discussion with some selected persons from the Northern Territories, who were not from any representative organization Neither has there been any discussion with political parties in Pakistan or Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
It has been pointed out by Asif Ezdi, a former member of the Pakistan Foreign Service, in the News (8/9) that “the Federal Government will have a built in majority in the Gilgit -Baltistan Council, as it has in the Azad Kashmir Council. The practical consequence is that legislation …… will continue to be controlled by Islamabad”.
Asif Ezdi also pointed out that “Some of the changes made in the new law are cosmetic, such as renaming the Chairman as Governor, the Chief Executive as Chief Minister and Advisers as Ministers.” He said: “Despite all the changes, some real and others cosmetic, the new Gilgit-Baltistan Order is not going to satisfy the demand of the local people for an end to their political disenfranchisement.”
The change in the status of Northern Territories has also not been welcomed by the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chief, Yasin Malik, and members of the All Party Hurriyat Conference have voiced dissent.
As far as the citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan are concerned, they have long been regretting the role played by the Scottish Army Officer Major William Brown and his assistant political agent, Captain Mathieson in 1947 in implementing the secret plan code named “Datta-Khel” to secede from Kashmir and join Pakistan.
Pakistan has made the cosmetic changes, hoping that it would mollify the people in the sensitive, strategic region, rich in natural resources.
Already dissent has started surfacing in Gilgit-Baltistan. The round table conference organized by the Jamaat-e-Islami Gilgit-Baltistan has demanded separate flag and national anthem for the region. The Dawn (16/8) reported that the conference, attended by political, religious parties, demanded that the government should ensure that the r ordinance is approved by the democratically elected representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan.
To divert attention, no wonder, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has started voicing Pakistan’s demand for a solution to the Kashmir issue, and has recalled that President Jinnah had stated that Kashmir is the ‘jugular vein’ of Pakistan. And, one may add, Gilgit –Baltistan is the crown . Unless Pakistan is sincere in giving the area franchise in the real sense of the word, it will soon turn into a crown of thorns.—(ADNI)
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