Friday, December 14, 2007

Gilgit Baltistan representatives demand autonomous governing body

Islamabad, Oct 16 : The Gilgit Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) has written a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, asserting that the Gilgit and Baltistan regions are not integral parts of Pakistan and there is no moral justification to subject the local communities to the Constitution of the country.

GBUM chairman Manzoor Hussain Parwana has demanded that Gilgit and Baltistan should be given representation in the Kashmir Council, which holds the status of the Senate of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan Kashmir).

He also demanded that the Northern Areas Legislative Council should be given the status of a legislative assembly and given similar rights granted to the existing Pakistan Kashmir Legislative Assembly.

"We demand that Gilgit and Baltistan regions should have access to the Supreme Court of AJK. Meanwhile, local courts in Skardu and Gilgit should be given the powers of an appellate court," he said.

Parwana demanded that the Northern Areas be renamed as Gilgit and Baltistan in all official maps of Pakistan.

He also wondered why the Pakistan Government in reluctant to establish an autonomous government in Gilgit and Baltistan on the lines of what existed in Pakistan Kashmir.

He also demanded opening of access points at Kargil - Skardu and Astore - Guraiz roads, in the line of five access points, opened to facilitate the divided families in Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of Line of Control.

"More than 50,000 people of Ladakh and Baltistan are waiting for these roads to open so they could see their loved ones separated six decades ago. The Government of Pakistan should immediately open these roads on a humanitarian basis," Parwana said.

"The Government of Pakistan declares Gilgit and Baltistan Regions as part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. If so, why State Subject Rule (SSR), which was abolished during the Late ZulfiqarAli Bhutto Regime, is not re-instated in Gilgit and Baltistan?" he said, asking whether it was a conspiracy to convert the local communities into a minority by a systematic settlement program of immigrants from NWFP and Punjab.

"India has granted constitutional, political and judicial rights to the people of Ladakh, like the other parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Half of the population of Ladakh is Muslim and they enjoy these rights. Why the same basic human rights are denied to the Muslims of Gilgit and Baltistan Regions by a Muslim country like Pakistan. Why the local communities of Gilgit and Baltistan Regions are treated like worthless cattle by Pakistani authorities while we live in the 21st Century," he said.

He also demanded immediate removal of military and paramilitary forces, including Khyber Rifles, Chitral Scouts, Sindh Ranger and Frontier Constabulary, stationed in the area in "the name of establishing peace".

The Northern Scouts should replace these forces instead, providing job opportunities to locals and a sense of respect and security as well.

He asked why the Pakistan Government was denying the freedom to press and journalists of Gilgit and Baltistan Regions.

He alleged that the construction of Skardo - Katzura Dam and
Diamer Bhasha Dam, which were under consideration and construction respectively without the will of the local population, will submerge more than half of the populated parts of Baltistan and Chilas regions.

The leader urged the Pakistan Government to allow private companies to operate airline services in the area.

"The Regions of Gilgit and Baltistan should be declared a "Green Zone" for tourists. Visa restrictions should be minimized for international tourists coming to Gilgit and Baltistan," he said.

He demanded early completion of Astore - Muzaffarabad to provide alternative access to the local people to Islamabad and PoK.

Courtesy: ANI


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