Kashmiris oppose Pakistan’s Northern Areas package
Mon, 31 Aug, 2009
‘We strongly condemn this package. It will harm
the interests of Pakistan as well as Kashmiris,’ a
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader said. — Photo by Reuters
ISLAMABAD: Kashmiri politicians opposed a Pakistani plan on Monday they say is aimed at integrating the strategic but disputed Northern Areas into Pakistan, arguing it will undermine their case for independence from India.
The Northern Areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were bundled in with Kashmir and demarcated as disputed territory under UN resolutions passed after Pakistan and India fought the first of their three wars in 1948.
Bordering China on one side and the mainly Buddhist Indian region of Ladakh on the other, Pakistan's sparsely populated Northern Areas are known to mountaineers as the home of many of the world's highest peaks.
Pakistan and India fought a brief but intense border conflict in the Kargil sector of this region in 1999.
Although Pakistan has held the northern territories since the first war with India, their status was hitherto undefined as Pakistan had not wanted to compromise its case in the broader dispute over Kashmir.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani unveiled a reform package that would result in these areas having their own governor and chief minister.
The areas have also been renamed as Gilgit-Baltistan.
Amanullah Khan, leader of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, rejected the package, saying it appeared to be aimed at merging the disputed areas into Pakistan.
‘We strongly condemn this package. It will harm the interests of Pakistan as well as Kashmiris,’ he told Reuters.
‘It looks like they are integrating these areas into Pakistan as done by India.’
Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, a pro-Pakistan politician and a former prime minister of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, also expressed reservations about the package.
‘We support internal autonomy for these areas...but such moves to unilaterally alter the status of these areas and gradually give them the status of a province are suspicious and unacceptable,’ he said.
The roughly 1.5 million people of Gilgit and Baltistan largely oppose integration into Kashmir and demand the territory be merged into Pakistan and declared a separate province.
Officials in the past had stonewalled on this demand because it would have diluted Pakistan's demand for implementation of a UN-mandated plebiscite to allow the people of Kashmir to determine their own future.
Pakistani-administered Kashmir, known as Azad Kashmir, enjoys some sort of self-rule with its own government, parliament and flag, but the Northern Areas are directly ruled by Islamabad.
India holds about 45 per cent of Kashmir and Pakistan more than a third. China controls the remainder.
Analysts say the reform package appears to be aimed at striking a balance between giving some sort of internal autonomy to the Northern Areas without undermining Pakistan's position on the Kashmir dispute.
‘They have met the demands of people of the Northern Areas on a limited scale,’ said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst.
‘It's a mid-way house. They will give them some concessions and then will wait and see what happens to the Kashmir issue.’
India unhappy over Pak move to merge Northern Areas
21:26 HRS IST
New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) India today voiced unhappiness over Islamabad's announcement of a reform package for Northern Areas of Jammu and Kashmir, a development seen as a step towards merger of the illegally-occupied region with Pakistan.
Northern Areas are integral part of India and we view the development with concern, official sources said here while reacting to Pakistan's move three days back.
The sources said India is obtaining more details about the development that has far-reaching implications.
Pakistan on Saturday approved a self-governance and reforms package for the Northern Areas, renaming it as "Gilgit-Baltistan", giving it rights akin to those of Pakistan's four provinces.
The "Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009", unveiled by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, will come into effect after President Asif Ali Zardari formally ratifies it by issuing an official notification.
Northern Areas have so far been under direct administrative control of Islamabad. fullstory
muslaman sahib if i may know how j&k is put under a merger clause which is utterly un true
even though J&k is an Integral part of India J&K is governed under the provisions of the
article 370 and it should be further noted that J&k upon Joining the Indian union was accorded few previlages like
1: the state has its own flag along with the national flag
2: state has its own constitution only provisons of the Indian constitution pretaining ro defence forieng policy and telecom apply
3: its state forces was taken Enblock to the Indian Defense forces
Seems like pakistan is following it's best friend china's route to have legit claim on POK just like what china did with Tibet.
Gilgit in current POK were not be part of pakistan nor were Chilas, Koh Ghizar, Ishkoman and Yasin. The British argument was based on the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar. Which stated that the limits of territories shall not be any time changed without the concurrence of Kashmiri Government. Nonetheless, when the partition plan was announced on 3 June 1947, the Gilgit Agency was returned to Maharaja's control. The retrocession of Gilgit was accepted by the Maharaja with jubilation.
There is a stubborn and seemingly eradicable myth in Pakistan that the Pakistan army is all that stands between Pakistan and chaos. The peddlers of this myth, within and outside Pakistan, would do well to reflect that it was the army which ended Pakistan's hopes of a secular, democratic future in the early post-partition era; it was the army which led Pakistan to the break-up of the nation in 1971.
Now forcefully merging gilgit into northern areas will do wonders for India in for future claims on Kashmir as whole. POK kasmiris will turn against pakistan and will realize that they were taken for a ride by pakistan in the name of freedom. POK kashmiris identity is at stake now, where Indian Kashmiri's have there own identity, culture and contitution with freedom to elect it's own leaders.
If pakistan raises kashmir humanity issue then why our netas are not raising it in un or to the world,i think this is the great opportunity for us but will our netas?:blum3: everyone knows that world (un,usa, Pakistan) are accusing India for stationing army but why cant we similarly protest against the Pakistan's deployment,i hope our netas will take it and do in our national interest instead of remaining silent to appease western powers
Our leaders attention is being diverted to NorthEast while Pakistan is about to change the POK map to it's favor. Our leaders in delhi are more interested in exposing opposition parties leaders and thinking about the next election.
Pakistan acts to guard Chinese interests
By Syed Fazl-e-Haider
QUETTA, Pakistan - Political and administrative reforms recently announced by Pakistan for its Northern Areas, from last week known officially as Gilgit Baltistan, are aimed at providing better security cover for the rapidly growing Chinese interests in the territory, according to analysts.
Gilgit, the Northern Areas capital, has acquired the status of a gateway to Central Asia in the wake of a Pakistan-China barter trade agreement and accords with Central Asian states.
China has invested heavily in a range of projects in the Northern Areas and is poised to launch several new projects, particularly in power sector, costing billions of dollars. Last month, during a visit by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to China, the countries signed a memorandum of understanding on construction of a hydro-power station at Bunji, in Gilgit Baltistan.
The countries also agreed in June to allow market access for bilateral trade in 11 services sectors and to intensify their efforts to increase border trade, which constitutes merely 5% of their overall trade, and takes place through the Karakoram Highway (KKH), whose repair and upgrade is likely to be completed by 2012.
Last week, the Pakistan government announced significant reforms for the Northern Areas, including renaming the area as Gilgit Baltistan through the federal cabinet's approval of the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009. The area has not been given the status of the country's fifth province, though it will have a legislative assembly, a chief minister and a governor.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan had hitherto been denied any clear constitutional status and hence system of governance and the delivery of justice. This in part reflects the Kashmir issue, with India maintaining that the Northern Areas has been illegally occupied by Pakistan.
Historically, Gilgit Baltistan was not merged into Pakistan proper due to concern this might undermine the country's claim on Kashmir and it was not merged into Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the southernmost political entity within the Pakistan-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, because it could complicate a settlement on the area, said a recent editorial of the Dawn newspaper.
If Gilgit Baltistan is made a full-fledged province within the constitutional framework of Pakistan, India could perhaps argue that the state it has carved out of the disputed area, Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, is also a legitimate entity and that it is a settled issue, the editorial said.
Beijing's profile in the Northern Areas has been rising for the past decade, with investments in a range of infrastructure projects. Important China-funded projects include the construction, maintenance and expansion of the KKH, small hydro-power projects, construction of a dry port at Sost, water-diversion channels, bridges, railway projects and telecommunication facilities.
The proposed Bunji dam is estimated to cost up to US$7 billion and will have a capacity to generate 7,000 megawatts of electricity. Under the deal, undertaken on a build-operate-transfer basis, all the investment will be made by Chinese entrepreneurs.
China and Pakistan also plan to link the KKH to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan province through the Chinese-built Gwadar-Dalbandin railway, which extends up to the Pakistan garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The KKH, which connects China's Xinjiang province with the Northern Areas, has a strategic importance as it cuts through the collision zone between the Asian and Indian continents, where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan come within 250 kilometers of each other. It connects the Northern Areas to the ancient Silk Road, which runs about 1,300 kilometers from Kashgar city in Xinjiang region, to Havelian in the Pakistan district of Abottabad. An extension of the highway meets the Grand Trunk road at Hasn Abdal, west of Islamabad.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2006 between China's state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the Pakistani Highway Administration, the KKH will be widened from 10 meters to 30 meters, and its capacity will be increased three times. The upgraded road will also be constructed to particularly accommodate heavy-laden vehicles and extreme weather conditions.
The dry port at Sost, on the Pakistan-China border, is connected by the KKH to Karimabad, Gilgit and Chilas on the south and the Chinese cities of Tashkurgan, Upal and Kashgar in the north. The port has the potential to act as a conduit of trade for Central Asian states.
Islamabad is also poised to undertake the construction of the $12.6 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam, with a capacity to generate 4,500 MW of electricity per day. Work on the dam is to begin this month and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. The project, on the Indus River, is 165km downstream of Gilgit and 40km downstream of Chilas.
To support such developments, Pakistan expects an investment of $1.5 billion per year from European, Arab and Chinese companies willing to form a consortium on a build-operate-transfer basis on a "supplier's credit" basis.
China has already agreed to extend 10 billion rupees (US$121 million) supplier credit out of a total cost of 12 billion rupees for the construction of the Karakoram Highway to establish links with the Bhasha dam site to help to transport heavy machinery needed in its construction.