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Delhi's Stoic Silence
JKLF opposes merger of Gilgit-Baltistan with Pakistan
9/15/2012 12:01:23 AM
Rustam
JAMMU, Sept 14: It is unbelievable. How could the ignored Shia-majority Gilgit-Baltistan region think in terms of acceding to Pakistan? But it has happened. The Pakistan-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly has adopted a resolution seeking merger of this strategic region with the oppressor Pakistan and demanding for it status of a full fledged province.
It needs to be underlined that the Shiite community of Gilgit-Baltistan, part of the former princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, has been carrying on a relentless campaign with a view to obtaining a dispensation that is their own and that empowers them to manage their own affairs themselves in a meaningful manner. The people of this area have consistently accused Pakistan of changing its demographic profile and looting and plundering its natural resources. It has been their complaint that Islamabad has never accorded a fair treatment to the Shiite Muslims and that the Sunni-dominated Pakistani establishment and Army have been persecuting them with a view to achieving its sinister goal in the region. Also remember, Gilgit-Baltistan already stands annexed to Pakistan for all practical purposes and the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly is no more than a sham legislature. It is the Pakistani tool in the region and its objective is to neutralize anti-Pak forces in the region.
The adoption of a resolution by the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly has provoked a sort of furore in the camp dominated by those who in Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) who consider this and the other part of the State disputed territory. They have reportedly termed the move "as an attempt to sabotage the Kashmir cause". They want "reunification of all parts of the State of Jammu and Kashmir" and a dispensation that is independent of Pakistan and India for all practical purposes. They, at the same time, want to maintain very cordial relations with Islamabad, as they draw inspiration from the theocratic and medievalist Pakistan. They, according to a report, "vowed to foil all such attempts aimed at permanent division of their homeland". "Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of Jammu and Kashmir and its future is yet to be decided according to United Nations resolutions," they have said, adding that the grant of provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan "will provide precedence for India to annex parts of Kashmir under its control" (read Jammu Pradesh and Ladakh region).
A report from Muzaffarabad filed by Zafar Iqbal, which was carried by a local English language daily in its today's edition, has quoted spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Dr Toqeer Gillani as saying "legislators should play their role to protect citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan 'who have been ruthlessly killed in sectarian violence' and 'Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly is diverting the attention from the real issues by traditional tactics of promoting politics on non-issues'. The legislators should recognise that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory so a puppet Assembly cannot decide about the future of people of the unresolved region". The report also said: "Nawaz Khan Naji, a lawmaker from Balawaristan National Front (BNF) -- only nationalist group in Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly, opposed the bill, asserting that the Assembly has no right to pass such resolution as the future of Gilgit-Baltistan is connected with resolution of Kashmir conflict, which is yet to be decided through UN plebiscite".
Three things are clear from the report. One, Islamabad has established its stranglehold over the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly. In other words, the bulk of legislators in this Assembly are men of Pakistan, who for obvious reasons are dancing to the tunes of Islamabad. Two, those, who are opposed to the region's merger with Pakistan, term the entire State as disputed. They seek a solution to the problem through the archaic and impracticable UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. This obviously means that New Delhi has done nothing to create for itself any constituency in the region to be pitted against those who have been demanding merger with Pakistan or seeking a solution to the so-called Kashmir problem through the UN-supervised plebiscite. Three, New Delhi has not taken any cognizance of the development that took place in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. It appears that New Delhi has given up its claim over the so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan region. This is not acceptable. It must rise to the occasion and evict all the Pakistanis from POJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.
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