Sheikh Mohsin Ali Najafi (A real Philanthropist)

By: Web Admin

Recent decision of Government to put Sheikh Mohsin Ali Najafi in the fourth schedule of ATA and freezing his accounts has attracted a strong resistance and a severe backlash from the people of Baltistan. Many protests were carried out in all parts of Gilgit Baltistan and different cities throughout the country. Let  us have a look on the life of Sheikh Mohsin Ali Najafi and the projects which he undertook to uplift the socio-econimic status of the Gilgit Baltistan and the efforts which he made to improve the quality of education in the region.

Sheikh Mohsin is a very humble man who was born in 1938 and studied Islamic education from Najaf Iraq. His first endeavor in Pakistan after completion of his studies in Najaf was the establishment of Jamia Ahl-e-Bait in Islamabad in 1976. The institution was meant to impart religious education to shia students from far flung areas. His major feat in the education sector was establishment of Jabir Bin Hayyan Trust in 1994. A chain of schools named “Baltistan Public School” was started in different areas of Gilgit Baltistan where there were no private schools initially. So, Sheikh Mohsin was the pioneer in establishing private schools in Baltistan. The schools were opened in:

  • Khaplu
  • Shigar
  • Rondu
  • Kharmang
  • Keris
  • Skardu
  • Yultar
  • Hunza

Schools were opened in other parts of country like para chinar, Sobho dero(Sindh), Darra Adam Khel and azad kashmir.

Later on these schools were changed to Uswa Public School System.

These schools played a great role in uplifting of the educational standard of the region. These institutions imparted quality education to the young students from far flung areas without any discrimination of sect of caste. Thousands of students have been passed out from these schools and they produces thousands of professionals in various disciplines. Students of these schools are proudly serving in armed forces, in government institutions, as doctors, engineers, economists, bankers etc.

Currently there are more than 60 educational institutions run by Sheikh Mohsin Ali Najafi under Uswa Education System. details are:

Region Number of Institutions
1 Baltistan Region 16
1 Gilgit Region 05
1 Kurram Region 09
1 Bangash Region 10
1 Federal Region 04
1 Central Region 08
1 Kashmir Region 04
1 Hazara Region 04
Total 60

These schools are segregated in following categories:

1 Inter Colleges 10
1 Secondary Schools 20
1 Middle Schools 23
1 Primary Schools 07
Girls Exclusive
1 Inter Colleges 03
1 Secondary Schools 03
1 Middle Schools 01
Total 60

Apart from providing Education to the students from far flung areas, he also endeavored to provide helath facilities to people. in this regard he established two Hospitals and Healthcare Centers providing free medical services to the poor and needy patients in Baltistan.

Another biggest effort by Sheikh Mohsin was establishment of housing societies for poor people who had no shelter. he established two Housing Colonies for Kargil Refugees in Skardu, offering housing along with all amenities free of cost:

  1. Madinatu Ahlilbait 250 Housing Units
  2. Hussaini Colony 25 Housing Units

Moreover, he provide thousands of scholarships to needy people in different universities and colleges and made every effort to educate the poor and needy people. He established many institutions to impart religious education to the people alongwith mainstream education. Al Kauthar University in Islamabad is an example of this.

There are hundreds of other projects on which he is working. Freezing his accounts and declaring him a threat to state has already effected hundreds of thousands of poor people whom he was looking after. The housing colonies and the educational institutions are unable to function without the necessary finance which he was providing. The government should think on the tremendous amount of social work he has done and lift all bans on him immediately in order to save thousands of poor and needy people from suffering more.

Inspiration (Syeda Noor-un-Nisa Kazim)

I am a proud daughter of gilgit Baltistan Syeda Noorun Nisa Kazim and I belong to Sadaat Coloney Kharmang GB.MY family used to live in Karachi from where I started my early education.I have been an all time competitor in all respects. I got considerable scores throughout my secondary and higher secondary levels. After matriculation, I joined KCW Islamabad where I nourished myself both with worldly education,ethical and religious knowledges. It has been a very good experience for me to dream beyond what a common girls usually do, as my parents especially my father was far more than a closest friend and all times mentor for me to mobilize, energize, guide, and motivate at his best in order to make my dreams true. Since my school life I have always been a philanthropist and ready to put myself to serve the people in need especially in terms of service to the
physically retarded, disabled and suffering people in medical centers. This was actually the reason I wished myself to become a physician, so that I could serve the patients throughout my life. It would be the best thing if I could secure admission for MBBS in a Pakistan University, but that was not that much necessary because I believe that if someone is affirmed to fulfil his or her dream, then no social or man made excuse can stop him to keep her away to achieve it. So rather restricting myself to adopt some other field of studies or profession within Pakistan, My father nd I dicided to see opportunities outside the country. Out of many good options, People’s Republic of China , being the nearest neighbour and home of thousands of Pakistani students, business people and tourists suited the best as what we were looking for. So finally in September 2016, I left my parents, siblings and my dear homeland Pakistan for several years to achieve my dream as a Doctor from a well reputed Medical university of People’s Republic of China. As a middle class family daughter, it was not that much easy to decide going out of the country. People, even the closed relatives make many ifs and thens, but for me and my parents, they were just so called social norms and reservations ib order to restrict one from her destination. Other than my own and my parent’s wish, many quotations from the Holy Prophet PBUH motivated and endorsed our decision of choosing my next alma-mater in China as, “Educate yourself even if you need to travel to China for it… “. On the other hand the progresses made by China as a world economic tiger, miraculous growth in scientific and industrial production and research, competing the best western institutions in higher education made my decision further clear. The final thing, that I must endorse that, rather than waiting for some miracle to happen , one must take decision in time and strive the best to make it true

Tourism and Environmental preservation in Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan is situated in the extreme north of Pakistan bordering China, India  and Afghanistan. The region has an area of 72,971 Sq. Kms. and a population of about 2.5 millions. Gilgit Baltistan is considered to be the most spectacular region of the country due to its diverse natural beauty.Montag_of_Gilgit_BaltistanThe region attracts tourists not only from all parts of Pakistan but also the whole world. Attractive landscapes, evergreen forests, cold deserts, snow-capped mountains and great cultural heritage are the attractions because of which thousands of people from various parts of the world visit this area. The region has always been a paradise for mountaineers, trekkers and landscape loving people.

Because of  whopping exposure on social, print and electronic media by the locals and some renowned celebrities, an improved infrastructure in terms of roads, hotels and tourism spots, and a temptation for pleasant weather in summers, the number of tourists visiting Gilgit-Baltistan has increased exponentially during the past few years and it is still on a rise. As a result an ostentatious improvement has been seen in the tourism and hospitality industry of Gilgit-Baltistan.

A camp at Shandur

A camp at Shandur

According to a report published in Express tribune, more than 600,000 tourists visited Gilgit-Baltistan in 2015 alone, a great number indeed. These include tourists of all types like climbers, trekkers, hikers, photographers, site visitors, geo-tourists, cultural tourists, trophy hunters etc.  The numbers are expected to increase definitely in 2016. The increased number of visitors will have a great socio-economic impacton the region and lifestyle of the people living in far flung areas is going to be changed.

But there are a few things which need a great part of our attention if we want both the beauty and tourism in our region to sustain for long. And the most important of them is the preservation of natural beauty and the biodiversity.

Remains of thousands of tourists at Shandur

Remains of thousands of tourists at Shandur

Places which were completely uninhibited during past have now become crowded picnic spots. Lakes, streams and meadows in mountains far away have now become accessible through roads and tracks. Lush green plateaus in different valleys can now be seen littered with wrappers, shopping bags, etc. Pollution is increasing day by day even at those places which were in the purest form of nature a few years ago.    Forests are being cut down for construction of resorts, hotels and restaurants. Cultural and heritage sites have now become nothing more than eating spots.

Tourists flock Manthokha waterfall in summer, and the amount of garbage increases proportionally

Tourists flock Manthokha waterfall, leaving the area littered with garbage

Natural meadows, which are sources for feeding cattle are now criss-crossed with jeep trails and signs of human presence can be seen everywhere. Due to such practices the whole environment is being effected to a large extant. Many rare species of wildlife are now endangered, forests are reducing day by day, grazing grounds are becoming more and more restricted and overall climate is also being changed due to these factors. Preservation of nature has become the least priority of the people which will harm our lives as well as the tourism industry when it is saturated.

Just to quote an example, there is a lake situated in Shigar valley named “Jarba-xo” (Blind Lake). Although it is situated near to Skardu-Shigar road, yet it was not visited often by people previously except the fishermen and the herdsmen or a few who really enjoyed the serenity of the place. But during the past few years the number of visitors to the place increased manifold. And now whenever someone visits the place he can see plastic bags and other rubbish floating in the lake and hundreds of people around it making every possible effort to litter the area. A few days later a local newspaper reported a shocking news that the aquatic life in the lake is endangered. This is only one out of hundreds of examples. The environment of our region is degrading drastically and sudden preventive measures need to be taken by everyone of us.13404031_1168853753146588_1936324851077880992_o

It is suggested that apart from promoting tourism we must also educate the tourists about the importance of preservation of nature. The most effective way to do this is the social media which is now being used by almost everyone. An integrated effort may be made by the locales of Gilgit-Baltistan and the department of tourism for ensuring the cleanliness of picnic spots and resorts.

GB-PAE Cleanliness campaign

GB-EPA Cleanliness campaign

Another suggestion is to make volunteer teams comprising of university students who go back to Gilgit-Baltistan during summer vacations. These teams can be equipped to visit various tourism spots and they can start cleanliness campaigns in collaboration with the municipal committees of respective regions and the local populace. These teams can also educate the tourists and the uneducated locals about the importance of clean and pleasant environment. Gilgit-Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency (GB-EPA), a government run agency, is also doing its earnest efforts to  ensure a pollution free and clean environment in Gilgit-Baltistan. The young people may also take part in different project undertaken by the voluntarily and fulfill their share of responsibility in ensuring the environmental preservation of our region.

Garbage Cleanup Campaign on K-2 trail

Garbage Cleanup Campaign on K-2 trail

Tour operators and other tourism companies must put an emphasis on cleanliness of camping sites, meadows, plateaus etc and they should also make their clients aware of their responsibilities to keep the tourist destinations clean. A few forests, meadows, lakes and glaciers which serve as a lifeline for the local population should be kept away from human access as much as possible because it is not only the tourism which serves for the development of our region. Some places need to be kept isolated from tourism industry.

Environmental preservation and prevention from all types of pollution is our collective responsibility and every one of us should act in his/her capacity to save our region from being a victim of pollution and environmental decay. While boasting of the beauty of our homeland we should also caution other people about the hazards of pollution and importance of cleanliness.

Suggestions and valuable comments are always welcome.

BY: K. Shigri

 

Gilgit Baltistan (A Heaven on Earth)

GILGIT-BALTISTAN

(A Heaven on Earth)

By: Web Admin

Gilgit -Baltistan , situated in the north of Pakistan is indeed the most spectacular region of the country in terms of its picturesque and scenic beauty. This part of Pakistan is blessed with alluring panorama and is a masterpiece of nature without any doubt. Tourism in Pakistan is exemplified by the beauty of this region. Attractive landscapes, evergreen forests, cold deserts, snowcapped mountains and great cultural heritage are the attractions which add to the beauty and diversity of this region.

All the valleys in this region portray breathtaking places for the visitors. Chilas valley is famous for its densely forested hills. The much applauded Babusar Pass is also situated in this valley. The ravishing resort of Fairy Meadows is of great importance in this valley. Astore valley boasts of its angelic plains and gorgeous camping sites like Rama, Minimarg and Chillam and the ski haven of Rattu. District Ghizer has world’s highest Polo ground Shandur. The beautiful valleys of Phandar, Yasin and the famous resort of Naltar are situated in this area.  The valley of Hunza is well known for historical buildings and its marvelous vista. The famous Atta abad lake, Altit and Baltit forts and the Khunjerab pass are famous landmarks of Hunza. Moving further, the valley of Skardu welcomes the visitors with its ethereal tourist resorts, daunting plains, wonderful lakes and alpine mountains. Shangri-la, Deosai plain, Satpara, Basho etc. are adorable places to visit. in the north of Skardu, Shigar valley fascinates the people by its splendid plains, hiking tracks , tempting peaks and camping sites.  The district of Khaplu hosts some lofty peaks, plateaus like hanjor and heritage sites like Khaplu Fort and Chaqchan mosque. Other worth mentioning valleys in Baltistan region are Rondu, Kachura and Kharmang.

The whole of Gilgit-Baltistan is a paradise for mountaineers and anglers. Here, three mightiest mountain ranges, The Karakuram, The Himalayas and The Hindu kush, meet. Towering mountains are spread throughout the region. Five out of fifteen highest peaks of the world are situated in this region. which are, K2 (8611m), Nanga Parbat (8148m), Gashabrum-1(8080m), Broad peak (8051m) and Gashabrum-2 (8035m). 108 peaks of heights above 7000 meters are situated in this region. This figure is matchless in the world. Some of the gigantic glaciers are also present in this region. some of them are Siachin(the highest battle field in the world), Baltoro, Batura, Hisper and Biafo. These glaciers aways remain seducing for hikers and trekkers.

This area enjoys a sound cultural heritage which depicts its great past. Forts, Monestries, Mosques and Stone carvings are present in every valley telling us the tales of early inhibitors. A few worth mentioning heritage sites are, Altit and Baltit forts in Hunza, Kharphocho fort in Skardu, Shigar Fort, Khaplu Fort, Buddha rock carvings in Chilas, Gilgit and Skardu and old Khanqahs in various valleys.

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are very hospitable, peaceful and courteous. Their altruistic and selfless behaviors always commended by the outsiders. In spite of intermingling of different sects and castes, the inhabitants of GB keep a great peace and harmony which makes its environment more serene. Thousands of visitors from all over the world visit the area every year.

 

CPEC and Gilgit-Baltistan

By: Admin
Nowadays news are looming in social, print and electronic media that china has imposed a condition of giving constitutional status to GB before the CPEC project becomes fully functional. Lots of debates are being carried out, committtees being constituted and meetings being held in this regard. One of the suggestions which came accross the media was giving observer status to two members of GB in the Parliament. A great twist in the whole story came when Maulana Abdul Sami, Jamaat Islami’s GB Chief, revealed that a suggestion of giving constitutional status to Gilgit and Hunza regions is on the table, leaving behind Baltistan and Astore with their previous status.
Now lets have an analytical look at all this melodrama. China’s biggest concern is giving a legal cover to the route because they know that if things go otherwise they will have to face some trouble in the days to come due to the disputed status of GB. India, who has a territorial claim over GB, are already opposing the CPEC and they may go to any end for sabotaging this project. Here, Pakistan is in a great fix. If they elevate the status of GB as a constitutional province, their stance on Kashmir will lose purpose and people of Kashmir will oppose it strongly. If they do not, China will push them to legalize the route in whatever way they can. The PML (N) led pak govt is already in a deep trouble because of lots of controversies surrounding the CPEC project already. So, the Pakistan government will try to give a solution which might be acceptable to all stakeholders. That is because, many suspicions are being raised about future of GB region. But it must be kept in mind that uptill now nothing regarding the annexation of Gilgit Baltistan has been said officially and no deliberations in this regard have been made yet.
We, the people of Gilgit Baltistan, have been loyal to Pakistan since independence, in spite of hundreds of atrocities by different people and attempts by foreign hands to provoke anti-Pakistan sentiments. So Pakistan should now think of giving the fundamental rights to the people of this region now because this is the high time. And if they do so, they will have a backing of China on any International forum now. Because this will serve in the national interest of China as well. Giving just an observer status in parliament will be nothing more than a joke. Full fledged constitutional status must be given without any delay. Kashmir cause is sacred to Pakistan, but in this project, Kashmir is not a stakeholder. People of GB have been saying since long that they must not be considered as a part of Kashmir issue and their status is separate from them. History supports this stance of GB too as the region of GB gained their independence from Dogra Raj, which means that the decisions of Dogra Maharaja stood null and void for the region of GB at that time.
The rumor of giving constitutional status to Gilgit region only is also circulating. Any attempt to divide the region of Gilgit Baltistan will suffer a great backlash from the masses of the region and any such act will be nothing more than a stupid adventure. This will cause the die hard patriots of Baltistan and Astore regions to become disheartened and any such sentiments in a militarily sensitive area may have severe implications. Although the office of CM GB has denied any such intentions but if at all something like this is tried, people of Baltistan have all the right to oppose it and they should raise their voice at all fora. instead of promoting violence and agitation, voice should be raised by educated lot and intellectuals and everyone should do whatever he can, in his capacity to oppose any such divide. Relying on our politicians and so called leaders will be nothing more than a wastage. Unfortunately, people of Baltistan have always been going with the status quo and same incompetent politicians are being elected by us since long. Today all the injustices against the Baltistan region are just because of this status quo which need to be broken if at all we want our voices to be heard at appropriate forums. the young generation need to think of their responsibilities and act accordingly.

(Opinions are the author’s point of view and may not reflect the policy of the organization and these articles must not be considered as any official statement of ABM)