CPEC and Gilgit-Baltistan
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)