Gilgit-Baltistan The Forgotten Kashmir

Discussion in 'Gilgit Baltistan' started by Yusuf, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    http://www.mid-day.com/opinion/2012/mar/270312-opinion-Gilgit-Baltistan-The-forgotten-Kashmir.htm


    In an interview last week, head of Indian army's Northern Command said that there are 1,000-1,500 Chinese soldiers "looking at some dams and bridges in the Northern Areas". The region is strategically important as the Karakoram Highway linking China to Pakistan passes through it. Although Northern Areas is a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, they are not part of the so-called 'Azad Kashmir'. While most Indians are ignorant of the status of the Northern Areas, Kashmiri youth are no better informed. In a survey conducted by IRIIS among Kashmiri urban youth last year, 58 per cent respondents didn't know the status of Northern Areas. In fact, no one can get that answer right because Northern Areas has a very ambiguous status.

    After Pakistan government enacted the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order in August 2009, Northern Areas came to be formally known as Gilgit-Baltistan. The region now has an elected assembly and a council headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This council wields all the powers and controls, the resources and revenue accrued from the region. In any case, the so-called regional government is under the overall control of the federal ministry of the Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan in Islamabad.

    But Gilgit-Baltistan or Northern Areas do not find any mention in the Pakistani constitution: it is neither independent nor does it have a provincial status. This huge territory, more than six times the size of 'Azad Kashmir' and part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, has been under Pakistan's control since November 4, 1947 when the British Commander of Gilgit Scouts, Major Brown declared accession to Pakistan. The region was then named 'The Northern Areas of Pakistan' and put under the direct control of Islamabad, distinct from the Pakistan-occupied 'Azad Kashmir'.

    The inhabitants of the region believe that their unique ethno-cultural and religious identity has been threatened after their annexation to Pakistan. First, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in the 1970s, abrogated the State Subject Rule -- the law that until then protected the local demographic composition -- to facilitate Pakistani Sunnis to acquire land and settle in the region. This single order damaged the social fabric and provoked sectarian feuds that continue to simmer till this day.

    Later, the ethnic composition of the region was tampered with by the Zia-ul-Haq-sponsored anti-Shia forces; the number of Shias in this region have since reduced drastically. Pakistani establishment-led Shia-Sunni and Shia-Nurbakshi riots caused extreme socio-political polarisation in Skardu in the early 1980s. But a permanent trust deficit was created in May 1988 when tribal Lashkars, after receiving a nod of approval from General Zia, abducted local women and massacred thousands of Shias in Gilgit.

    In the recent years, many Taliban who escaped from Swat and adjoining areas have found shelter among Sunni extremists in Gilgit. More than 300 suspected terrorists were expelled from Gilgit in October 2008, highlighting fears that the Taliban has a strong presence in the region. The massacre of Shia pilgrims in Kohistan in February this year, while they were on their way back to Gilgit-Baltistan, points to the dangers of Talibanisation. At least 16 Shias were identified, forced to disembark from the bus and brutally shot to death in Kohistan by the Sunni extremist group, Jundallah.

    The situation, exacerbated by growing involvement of China and exploitation of this natural resource-rich region by Islamabad, has given rise to some nationalist groups. Claiming to represent an 'oppressed people' owing to sectarianism, intolerance, poverty, terrorist camps and exploitation of resources, groups such as the Balawaristan National Front have explicitly defined their goal as 'freedom from Pakistan's illegal occupation.'

    India can no longer be oblivious to continued Pakistani designs to alter the unique ethno-nationalist and religious character of a territory that legally belongs to India. Along with the government, Indian civil society groups need to highlight the violation of the basic human rights of the population of Gilgit-Baltistan, who are de jure citizens of India. After all, the parliamentary resolution of 1994 had reaffirmed that the region is a "part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to it in 1947."
     
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  3. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    Something has to be done for the innocent people of GB; they need liberation from the clutches of wretched Punjabi army of Failed State of pakistan!! The World community should actively look into this matter and work towards alleviating the misery and ethnic cleansing of the people of GB!
     
  4. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    While I don't support forced changes in demographics etc. and suppression of natives at any cost, we have failed to assimilate the India controlled J & K into the rest of the country. If it is a part of this country, why is the traffic still one way?
    Keeping that failure in mind, I would laugh at the irony of the question "why we can't do something about GB".

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
  5. devgupt

    devgupt Regular Member

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    Let's say Pakistan splits - and we get hold of entire POK.
    In Gilgit Baltistan we can play on Shia - Sunni ,indigenous - non indigenous divisions and establish some support.
    But how to control Azad Kashmir ? Mirpuris (who are half Punjabis) are dead against India.
     
  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Shoot all the trouble makers in the head ?
     
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  7. devgupt

    devgupt Regular Member

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  8. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    I suggest rename the thread as Northern Areas (as per Indian terms) and not as GB (according to the Pak terminology).
     
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  9. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    I don't think that is accurate.

    The territory became a single administrative unit in 1970 under the name Northern Areas and was formed by the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar.
     
  10. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    well nothing gonnae happen till we have some visionary dynamic and not connected to pak land PM at the helm . and looking at current as well as future stock of leaders i donot find any one of capable to do something for people of GB region
     
  11. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Northern Areas is what the term was given by GoP when they split it up from Mirpur and Muzzafpur districts.

    The people of that area refer to this location as Gilgit. Finally in 2009, the GoP agreed to their demands to rename the provice to Gilgit. Its the same case as with NWFP. The Pashtoons have been demanding that their province be renamed to Pakhtoonwa for ages by it took till 2010 for this to be accepted and implemented. Even then, they wanted Khyber-Pakhtoonwa to be added because of the paranoia that this would turn into a Pashotoonistan movement.
     
  12. arya

    arya Senior Member Senior Member

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    guys we cant solve the issue and that's truth we have to accept it .

    only war can solve either the win or we.

    we can give our life but not Kashmir and for there Kashmir is a subject to remain in power
     
  13. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    mark my words- its nothing but wakhan corridor which is wanted by India, unused by pakistan and wanted to be kept away from India by china
     
  14. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    What colour pencil should i use to mark it down?
     
  15. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    sorry...couldnt get you
     
  16. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

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    Should i mark your words down with blue, green or red pencil? :D
     
  17. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    I did not get your point.

    India continues to uses the Northern Areas terminlogy to refer to that area and it is only fair, that DFI as an Indian forum, uses that and not GB.
     
  18. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    Wakhan corridor is useless, the terrain makes it so.

    It is KKH )and correspondingly the Hunza,nagar areas) that is the most important objective of India.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  19. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    its wakhan corridor since starting. earlier russians and british and now india and sino-pak
     
  20. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @Karthic Sri

    The name Northern Areas is a Pakistani name given to this area in the 1970s. I don't think the GoI uses this name but correct me if I am wrong.

    The people in that region also don't like the name Northern Areas and prefer Gilgit Baltistan or another name for that region called Balawaristan.

    ---------------------------------

    Here is a 2004 article of GB leader talking about independance from Pakistan

    'We are ready to fight against Pakistan' - Rediff.com India News

    When Pakistani troops and irregulars occupied a large part of the then independent state of Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] in November 1947, only a small chunk of 4,000 square miles was designated 'Azad Kashmir.' The rest of the territory, more than 28,000 sq miles of rugged, mostly inhospitable terrain comprising the remote, backward areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, was hived off and designated the Northern Areas.

    But the people of this region, who prefer to call it Balawaristan, insist that they have been illegally occupied and are now seeking independence.

    In the second and concluding part of an exclusive interview with rediff.com Senior Editor Ramananda Sengupta, Balawaristan National Front acting chairman Nawaz Khan Naji explains why Pakistan's occupation is illegal and what his people expect from the current efforts of India [ Images ] and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir problem.

    Do people from this area have any representation in Pakistan?

    No. Because we are not in the constitution of Pakistan, we cannot cast a vote or stand for a parliamentary post in Pakistan. We cannot appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

    We are foreigners, actually. It is completely an occupation. Article 8 of the agreement signed between Islamabad [ Images ] and the government of Azad Kashmir in March 1949 says Pakistan will think about Gilgit and Ladakh only after a decision on Kashmir. This agreement is between Pakistan and the AJK government, between Gurmani [Mushtaque Ahmed Gurmani, minister without portfolio, government of Pakistan], Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan [president of 'Azad Kashmir'], and Choudhary Ghulam Abbas [head of the All-Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference].

    Who are these people? The people of the Northern Areas don't know them. We did not cast a vote for Ghulam Abbas or Ibrahim. There was no Muslim Conference, and there is still no Muslim Conference in Gilgit. So how can the head of the Muslim Conference sign an agreement with Pakistan about that area? Our president was Raja Sharif Khan, and the AJK president was Sardar Ibrahim. So how can Ibrahim sign an agreement on Balawaristan? Our president was expelled and appointed a civil services officer! Our army chief was Colonel Khan, who was demoted to lieutenant!

    How does the peace process between India and Pakistan affect your movement?

    We support and appreciate the peace process. We are very happy about this situation. We call on them to discuss the Kashmir issue, particularly the issue of Balawaristan. We are an oppressed people.

    You say you are a separate nation, yet you want two other nations to discuss your status?

    According to the UN resolutions, Pakistan and India are parties to the Kashmir dispute. We don't have the power to fight these countries. Therefore they should discuss, but without our will it is impossible to solve the problem. They should satisfy the Kashmiris, they should satisfy the Balawar people. Only then can the problem be solved.

    First, these countries must make peace, and then they should discuss Kashmir and Balawaristan. If they are fighting each other, it is not a good situation for us. Which is why we support the peace process. After that, the two countries should discuss with us the problem. The Indian government should discuss with the Hurriyat Conference, and the Pakistan government should discuss with the BNF, Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance, and other parties in Balawaristan, like the Hurriyat and Advani [ Images ] [are doing]. Only then can we put forward to Pakistan what we want, and do something for our future.

    What exactly do you want?

    In the political process, there will be some flexibility. But actually we need our own state, our own identity. If we become an independent nation in the world, we will be very happy, but if Kashmiris are adjusting with Indians, then we can adjust with Pakistan, not on the basis of annexation, but perhaps a confederation, a union, it is possible. But we cannot become a province of Pakistan. That is not negotiable.What do you mean by autonomy?

    Autonomy means our assembly which we elect by vote, will make laws, rules, and elect the chief executive. The government should be by chosen representatives of the people.

    You just spoke of two other parties in the area. How much representation do they really have?

    I spoke of the Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance. They are all parties, nationalists, religious groups, Pakistan-based parties, they have joined this alliance.

    Autonomy till a decision on Kashmir, like the AJK setup, we should have got that in 1947. We are not averse to autonomy. But with the decision on the Kashmir dispute, we are the fourth party to the dispute. India, Pakistan, Kashmir and us. We will decide our area's future. They will not impose any solution on us, which we will resist. This is the second point of the alliance. Therefore they should contact us and satisfy us. If we are not satisfied, Kashmiris are fighting against India, we are ready to fight against Pakistan, politically, and in every field.

    But how strong are you on the ground?

    It is very difficult to fight against a power, but we can pursue it perhaps in a democratic way, peacefully. Now the world has become a global village and everyone can see what is happening in our area. We will cry against this oppression, we will build pressure on Pakistan to accept our basic rights, our identity. If big power will crush weak people, America will crush India, India will crush Pakistan, and Pakistan will crush Balawaristan... this is not the human way to do things. There are too many weak nations in the world, yet they are recognised as nations. We must be recognised too. If, however, our people want to go with Pakistan, then we will accept it. If our people want independence, the international community should be helpful.

    What has been Pakistan's response to your call for talks?

    Pakistan cannot give us independence, for sure. But after our crying, our protests, the government is starting to do something for our area. They are gradually upgrading the democratic system. Like the Northern Areas Council has become the Northern Areas Legislative Council, which has local representation, though the chairman is the chief executive and Kashmir affairs minister, who is from Pakistan. The posts of speaker and deputy speaker have been introduced. And there is an elected deputy chief executive, but a deputy is a deputy. But gradually, very slowly, we are going for autonomy. This has been achieved only through our efforts. Otherwise, Khyber, Mohmand, Waziristan, all are agencies, where it is not necessary to create councils of legislators.

    Earlier, the deputy commissioner was the chief of the supreme court of the area. But following our cry, our struggle, they appointed a chief or judicial commissioner, and now there is a chief court, equal to high court, and they are preparing an appellate court.

    All these are local appointments?

    The chief justice is from Islamabad, the other judges are local. In every department, the chief is from Pakistan, the other, secondary positions are locals.

    How strongly is your struggle linked to the Kashmir issue?

    It is very strongly linked to the Kashmir issue. The Pakistan government says [that] until this issue is resolved we cannot do anything for you. Kashmir is disputed for 57 years. But the two sides of Kashmir are enjoying their rights. The Indian side has representatives in the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, even in the Cabinet. They have a legislative assembly and their own chief minister. They have their own high court, they can appeal in the Supreme Court. On the Pakistan side of Kashmir, they have a semi-autonomous state, they have their own flag, they have their own name, they have their so-called president, an elected prime minister, an assembly, a huge Cabinet, budget. Then, on the Indian side, they are protected by the law which says a non-Kashmiri cannot buy property in Kashmir. But we have nothing.

    Nothing?

    We have no president, prime minister, parliament, courts, and the Pathans are buying property and our cities are becoming Pathan-majority cities, where our locals are becoming minorities. We have no right to cast votes in Pakistan, nor in Azad Kashmir. Like a no-man's land. We are the last colony in the world. For 57 years we have been hoping for an end to the Kashmir dispute. But our patience is running out fast. Our struggle will be fast, and we will do something with the occupiers.

    What about Pakistani claims that India is fomenting trouble in the area?

    We say India is not initiating anything in the area. People who say this are liars. India claims Gilgit-Baltistan. But it is doing nothing for it. Pakistan says India claims the area, so we cannot do anything for you. India should do something for them. Only a claim is nothing. Pakistan claims Kashmir, and its supporters are working in that region, in Indian-held Kashmir. But what is India's role in Gilgit-Baltistan? Nothing. Indians do not appreciate enough. They did not exploit us. On Doordarshan, in your newspapers, there is no news of Gilgit-Baltistan. No news anywhere. India says PoK, Pakistan says Kashmir, but no one thinks of us. Pakistan says Gilgit-Baltistan is not part of Kashmir. India should highlight all these things, but it does nothing!
     
  21. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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    All future discussion on GB should take place in this subforum within Internal Security. Don't post them in the Pakistan section under "Country Watch"
     
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