Friday, March 25, 2011

Gilgit Baltistan : Harassment of Nationalist leader intensifies

March 24, 2011
The ad-hoc self-governance and empowerment presidential ordinance, which was promulgated by President Zardari in June 2009 to solve political issues of Gilgit-Baltistan, has failed to garner any support among the natives of the region. The situation is favoring nationalists and separatists as thousands of youth have joined the ranks and demand genuine political autonomy and withdrawal of Pakistani security forces from the region. Nationalists assert that Gilgit-Baltistan is part of the disputed princely state of Jammu & Kashmir and therefore, Pakistan must withdraw from the region to honor the United Nations resolutions of 1948 and 1949. Further, they claim that natives of Gilgit-Baltistan have the same birth right to self-determination, which Pakistan currently prescribes for the people of Kashmir Valley.

Ironically, while Pakistan promotes the cause of the Kashmiri people and supports their right of freedom; it restricts political activity for the nationalists in Gilgit-Baltistan and encourages its security forces to brutally suppress similar aspirations. Human rights violations and attack on human right defenders have increased since the promulgation of Zardari ordinance in 2009. There is a complete ban on political activity and public gathering of the nationalists and many activists and leaders remain expelled from the region. It has become a routine for the agents of secret service agency of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI to barge into the houses of political activists to threaten their family members. The situation needs immediate international attention as human right defenders are not safe in their own homes while the region remains in de-facto control of ISI personnel.

On March 10, 2011, a green pick-up truck belonging to the 411 command office of ISI in Skardu, carrying two agents arrived in Haji Bazaar of Thowar, Baltistan. The two personnel along with the driver Sipahi Muhammad Hussain, who originally belongs to Kharmang, Baltistan, then barged into the house of the Chairperson of Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement, Engineer Manzoor Parwana. They pretended to be his friends and inquired about his whereabouts and social activities. After failing to receive any information, they left the house threatening the family members of the consequences.

Manzoor Parwana, while talking to the crime reporter of the Weekly Baang condemned the cowardly act of Pakistani agencies. He said, “Pakistan is worried since nationalists are becoming popular in the region. I have personally received death threats but I continue my struggle for the independence for my nation”. He demanded that Field Command Office of Gilgit-Baltistan and the Brigade office in Skardu should take immediate notice of such unwarranted interferences by security agencies in the local socio-political matters and order investigation against the afore-mentioned personnel.


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