Participants of a recent All Parties Kashmir Conference unanimously declared Gilgit Baltistan as integral part of Kashmir
In recent All Parties Kashmir Conference, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI said that according to his party’s policy, Gilgit–Baltistan is an integral part of Kashmir.
The participants of the so called All parties Kashmir Conference have no right to decide the fate of Giglit Baltistan because they don’t represent the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. It is only the right of people of Giglit Baltistan and their elected representatives to decide about their future.
Geographically 72,971 sq. Kms of area of Gilgit Baltistan are connected with Indian held Jammu & Kashmir through Ladakh & Kargil . Traditionally the pre-independence traders used pony tract for trade activities between Kashmir & Gilgit- Baltistan. The people of this area got independence from Dogra Raj in 1948 from Maha raja Ranjeet Sing without any foreign help and made their own government headed by Shah Rais Khan as the pioneer ruler.Later they asked newly born Pakistan government to take over the charge And on their invitation two Pakistani officials Sardar Muhammad Alam Khan & Malik Muhammad Azeem both from Hazara) took the charge of Gilgit- Baltistan .Thus this area formally & administratively merged with Pakistan.
Gilgit Baltistan comprising of seven districts Gilgit, Diamer, Astore, Ghizer, Hunza Nagir, Skardu & Ganchee, while the common dialects are Shina, Balti, Brushiski & Khawar. Linguistically, traditionally and even geographically Gilgit Baltistan has no link with Azad Kashmir as here the people of Kashmir don’t even familiar with the dialects of Gilgit Baltistan as they speak Hindko and Pahari as their dialect. More over there is no geographic link between the two parts .
In case of merger as suggested by certain quarters, it will be no different former East and West Pakistan (a total unnatural merger). The people of both the parts have totally different traditions and cultural values.
Gilgit Baltistan can be a part of Kashmir only after merger of two parts of Kashmir as only then this area can get direct access with Kashmir through Ladakh & Kargil. Interestingly Ladakh & Kargil people speak Balti as their dialect as it was a part of Gilgit Baltistan but later captured by India in 1965 & 1971wars.
According to PYO-GB Chapter, merger of Gilgit Baltistan with Azad Kashmir suits JUI(F); some other religious parties supports merger of GB and AJK on sectarian grounds , as only with this proposed merger they can get some additional seats on sectarian grounds and will be in a position to intervene in policy matters. JUI & some religious parties have solid vote bank only in Diamer district and maybe some influence in Gilgit district. Now you can assume yourself that how can they endorse the decision of a full fledged fifth province of Pakistan as they have no vote bank in reaming five districts of the region.
The amendment if proposed by PPP government in the constitution will be backed byPML, ANP, MQM,FATA Parliamentarians and other minor political parties. At the same time I am hopeful PPP think tank will adopt such measures through which the government would be successful to pass amendment (If presented) unanimously like they get it approved unanimously in case of renaming of NWFP to Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa, despite serious reservations by PML-N and PML-Q.
It is the responsibility of the persons at the helm of affairs of Gilgit Baltistan to build pressure on federal government and legislators in Islamabad for early tabling of the constitutional amendment in this regard.
Writer is a PYO Activist from Hunza