Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gilgit Baltistan: Establishment an accomplice in terrorism: Manzoor Parwana

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) Manzoor Hussain Parwana has alleged that the incidents of terrorism in Gilgit-Baltistan are being carried out with consent of the security establishment. "It's out of question to carry out any in1cident of terrorism in Gilgit-Baltistan without node from the military establishment" he added. He said the military and civil bureaucracy of Pakistan and the local provincial government of Gilgit-Baltistan were misinterpreting incidents of terrorism as sectarianism to hide their own incompetence. "Had the massacres in Kohistan, Chilas, Babusar and Lolasar been sectarian in nature, the Sunnis of Chilas won't have saved lives of hundreds of people in during Gunar farm fiasco and the Shias of Baltistan won't have acted to save lives of Sunnis in Skardu in the aftermath of the terrorist incidents" he observed. He said terrorists were running rampage on the KKH and writ of the state existed nowhere. "The agencies are but watching spill of innocent blood on the highways" he added. He blew upon the provincial administration of Gilgit Baltistan and the Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan hot and cold accusing them of turning a blind eye to the real issues of the region. "All the chief minister was interested in was his own protocol and status quo" he added.

He said the highways linking Pakistan with its neighbors were deliberately being made insecure just to invite economic misery in the region and to push the people back to the Stone Age. "This so called sectarian bout is staged just to divert attention of the indigenous population from the real issues" he added. Responding to a query about the recent rise in terrorist incidents in the region, he said the establishment of Pakistan was viewing the rising nationalism in the region as a threat and it was sponsoring such incidents to counter the rising opposition to the illegal suppression of Pakistan. "The establishment views Gilgit Baltistan as its backwater like Afghanistan and it is this reason that there is a sharp rise in incidents of terrorism in the region" he added.

 He accused the military and civil bureaucracy of Gilgit Baltistan of patronizing terrorism in Gilgit Baltistan for what he termed 'to create troubles for its neighbors and instigate a proxy'. "The establishment of Pakistan has a history of renting out the country to other people so that they can fight their wars here and this is a major source of income for the security establishment" he added. He said the recent incidents of terrorism in Gilgit Baltistan were also a continuity of the proxy wars so that the security establishment can make a few bucks. Responding to a query about the political and constitutional status of the region, he said the presidential ordinance was violation of the UNCIP resolutions. "According to the UNCIP resolutions, Pakistan is bound to form a local authority government in the region while the so called Gilgit Baltistan empowerment and self governance ordinance was a dummy setup with no legislation rights to the local representatives" he added.

Talking about the roadmap of GBUM which he termed as the roadmap to independence, he said the movement was aimed at freeing Gilgit Baltistan from Pakistan control. "You need a genuine movement to achieve this goal and the GBUM is a platform of the region, for the region and by the masses of the region and I feel proud in claiming that it's the only national political party of the region" he added. Concluding his thoughts, he said he was still hopeful and saw light at the end of the tunnel. "I am very much optimistic and its my firm faith that the  minds of Pakistan's establishment and their nefarious designs to turn Gilgit Baltistan into a war zone is bound to fail as the local population have found the hands behind the curtain and they were now pointing fingers at the establishment" he added. He said Gilgit Baltistan was historically and economically an independent state and the international community and the United Nation had stood with masses of the region at times of adversity.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gilgit Baltistan: Pakistan should take immediate measures to open Skardu –Kargil route

Chairman Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement Manzoor Hussain Parwana has said closing the doors of economic development on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is tantamount to their economic murder. He said the government of Pakistan should take immediate measures to open the old trade routes from Skardu to Kargil, Ishkoman to Tajikistan and Astor to Srinagar.

He said Karakoram Highway is the only route of economic activity between China and Pakistan. The terrorists have safe heavens near to this vital highway that is the reason the terrorist thrice hit KKH within last 7 months and killed more than 60 passengers traveling on KKH.

He said due to the repeated terrorist attempt on KKH caused to remain closed the wheel of economic activity in the whole region to a complete halt.
Gilgit-Baltistan is cut off from the outside world due to the closure of the highway. Therefore, the government should open all other routes connecting the region with the neighboring countries.

Issued by
Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Chairman Gilgit Baltistan United Movement
Skardu Baltistan

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gilgit Baltistan “Terrorist attacked on Karakuram High Way”

Terrorists once again targeted Gilgit Baltistan bound passenger’s buses at Karakuram Highway in Kyber Pokhtoon Khwaw Provice of Pakistan. According to the eye witnesses 15-20 terrorists wearing Pak army uniform stopped four passenger buses, drag out the passengers and shot more than two dozen Shias Muslims after identification.
The buses are bound to Skardu and Astore from Rawalpindi and the passengers are going to observed Eid-ul-Ftr at their hometown.
Manzoor Parwana Chairman Gilgit Baltistan United Movement has strongly condemned the attacked and appealed the people of Gilgit Baltistan to launch a massive protest against the Govt. over the genocide of GB people because the Govt. is completely failed to protect the lives of the people on Karakuram Highway.

Manzoor Parwana drew the attention of international community toward the apathy of Pakistani government to secure the lives of GBian on highways.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gilgit Baltistan leader arrested on connection with US official

13 August 2012

On the eve of Pakistan's independence day, August 14, Ghulam Shehzad Agha, an emerging political leader of Gilgit Baltistan, was arrested in Skardo. Agha is general secretary of Gilgit Baltistan United Movement, and has been vocal promoting the right of self determination for the occupied region. Recently, Agha had met US Embassy staffs in Gilgit and had discussed political situation in the region. Agha is the second person arrested after their meeting with US officials. Earlier, Lady Inspector of police, Madam Tahira, was suspended from her job after she offered a meal to the visiting US officials at her home in Gilgit. Chairperson of GBUM, Manzoor Parwana, in his press releae, has said that Agha has been detained since he was emerging as a joint candidate of the opposition parties for the next general election. He said, "While the Shia killers and other terrorists roam free in Gilgit Baltistan under state patronage, peaceful political activists like Agha are forced to spend life behind bars for talking about the rights of the natives". The opposition political parties of GB have decided to commemorate independence day of Pakistan as black day in the wake of this fresh arrest. Political parties including PML-N, BNF, GBUM, KNM, PYF and GBNC have condemned the arrest

Sunday, June 3, 2012

US Embassy officials met Manzoor Parwana of GBUM in Gilgit:

Press Release
US Embassy officials met Manzoor Parwana of GBUM in Gilgit: US urged to support right of self-determination for the natives On May 31, 2012, a three-member delegation of US Embassy consisting of Lisa Buzenos, Political/Economic Officer, Kimberly Phelan, Political Officer, and Khalid Javed, the Security Advisor, met Chairperson of Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM), Manzoor Hussain Parwana in Gilgit, who was accompanied by the General Secretary of GBUM, Ghulam Shehzad Agha and member of Core Committee, Ali Noor Mazhar. Mr. Parwana appreciated the US government for financing the Sadpara Dam and supporting the non-profit sector in undertaking grassroots developmental work in Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr. Parwana urged the international community especially the offices of the United Nations to support the right of self-determination for the oppressed and poverty stricken natives of the disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan, which remains in Pakistani occupation since 1947. He reminded that successive resolutions passed by both the UN Security Council and UN Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) have asked Pakistan to withdraw its forces and citizens from Gilgit-Baltistan and their continued presence in the region is a violation of these accords. He also claimed that representatives of Pakistani secret service agencies, military and political parties interfere in the internal affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr. Parwana requested the international community to heed equal treatment and attention to both Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistani Kashmir, or the natives of Gilgit-Baltistan will continue to live an impoverished life with complete denial of freedom of expression, press and political activity. He blamed the occupying regime for rampant corruption and gross human rights violations and deplored the ad-hoc ordinance system which has been used to treat the people like captives and the land like a colony. Mr. Parwana called denial of the right of self-determination and degradation of local national and cultural identity as two main issues. He stated that the regimes create sectarian and racial conflicts to maintain status quo and weaken the masses. He said that the natives of Gilgit-Baltistan despite linguistic and religious differences have co-existed peacefully for centuries. Now, engineered demographic change and ethnic and religious genocide has brought irreparable damage to local social fabric. He reiterated that since Pakistan has no capacity or the will to solve constitutional and economic problems of the region, therefore, the international community must pay immediate attention to address this impasse. Mr. Parwana claimed that Gilgit-Baltistan with abundance of natural resources and enviable geo-strategic location fulfills the criteria to sustain as an independent country. He said, “We expect brotherly relations with our neighbors namely India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, China and Afghanistan but do not expect them to treat us like a colony. The international community including our neighbors should respect our will to exist as an independent nation. We intend to use our land and resources for the wellbeing of our people but would refuse to let our neighbors exploit us to enhance their strategic depth or use our poor people as cannon fodder”. Mr. Parwana stated that a democratic and secular state of Gilgit-Baltistan will enable all diverse ethnic and religious groups to co-exist the way they have done in the last several centuries. He said that emergence of Gilgit-Baltistan as a secular state will help neutralize extremism and terrorism in the region. Like India, Gilgit-Baltistan can find strength in ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. He claimed that ethnic and religious prejudices will die naturally once interferences from Pakistan come to an end. Showing dissatisfaction in the existing ad-hoc system, Mr. Parwana demanded that a political setup based on the UN resolutions should help Gilgit-Baltistan come out of its six decade long socio-economic and political stagnation. He said that affiliation with Pakistan only helps spreading corruption, resource thievery and terrorism. He claimed that the system has failed to provide relief to the common people as absolute authority lies with the Pakistani secret service agencies and bureaucrats who are only interested in playing divide and rule game to sustain their presence in the region. Mr. Parwana emphasized that the Karakoram Highway has become unsafe for the traders and tourists and it is the demand of the natives of Gilgit-Baltistan to resume trade over historical routes which lead to Ladakh and Wakhan. He stated that trade and tourism along Astore-Kashmir, Kargil-Skardo, Khapulo-Nubra, Drass-Gultari, Gojal-Wakhan and Ishkoman-Badakhshan routes will directly benefit more than a million people of Gilgit-Baltistan. He deplored Pakistani double standards and said that even as Pakistan has granted MFN to India, but this development has failed to resume trade along the Ladakh routes. While mentioning the hardships of the political activists of Gilgit-Baltistan who remain in jail and face sedition charges, Mr. Parwana, requested the international community to help in their release. He also suggested to the US government to initiate programs in Gilgit-Baltistan to help promote human rights, cultural and economic wellbeing, improved communication and transportation links, freedom of speech, press and political activity, and enhanced literacy and women development. He also requested the USAID representatives to ensure transparency and check corruption during allocation of funds to benefit maximum number of poor. The delegates termed the meeting very informative and constructive and ensured availability of US investment to promote basic rights in the region. The delegates also ensured scholarships for the students of Gilgit-Baltistan to help them study in the US universities. Office of the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan Dated: June 1, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

UNO should intervene to stop genocide and rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations
New York, NY 10017 USA

Respected Sir,

Subject: UNO should intervene to stop genocide and rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan

I intend to draw your attention to a vital human rights issue which affects the two million people of Gilgit Baltistan. The region, declared disputed between India and Pakistan in 1948, is sandwiched strategically between India, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. UNO allowed Pakistan to assume temporary control over Gilgit Baltistan and stationed officials representing the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan in both Gilgit and Skardu cities.

Till date, the natives of Gilgit Baltistan remain deprived of basic rights, the national identity and the right to self-governance as prescribed by the UN resolutions. On the other hand, gross level of human rights violations have continued to occur and in the aftermath of passenger’s massacre in Kohistan and Chilas, the right to free and safe travel has also been snatched away from the powerless residents. These incidents draw our attention towards involvement of militants and secret service personnel.

On February 28, 2012, militants wearing army uniform ambushed a bus in Kohistan and killed 18 Shia male passengers. Government has failed to arrest the assailants so far. The failure encouraged the terrorists who ambushed 34 buses near Chilas on April 3 2012 and killed dozens of Shia male passengers. The assailants numbering more than three thousand attacked the innocent passengers with stones, knives and automatic weapons. Eyewitness reports claim more than 50 deaths, scores injured and more than 100 abducted. The assailants torched 6 buses and pushed two in the Indus River.

The horrible incident occurred in front of police force and according to eyewitnesses; the police did not provide security to the passengers. Some local people of Chilas were later able to save the lives of 200 passengers.This horrible incident occurred in the reaction of the Gilgit grenade attacked in which a terrorist throw a hand grenade on the procession of Ahelsunat wal Jamaat . In this terrorist attacked 6 protesters died and more than 40 people injured in front of security forces.

Instead of arresting the miscreants of Gilgit Kohistan and Chilas, government resorted to imposing curfew in Gilgit city which has entered into 14th day. Under military control, life has crippled in the city and there is acute shortage of food and medicines. During the first ten days of curfew, there was a break of only 4 hours in which families arranged for food and water. The telecom system is completely blocked by the military and not news flows outside Gilgit. As majority of the workforce depend on daily wage labor for earnings, the curfew has forced them to remain shut in homes and lose the wages. Converting Gilgit Baltistan into a jail and denying basic food and medicine provisions is a gross violation of human rights. Military has arrested more than 100 youth from Gilgit.

Honorable Sir,

The disputed status of Gilgit Baltistan deprives us of political and judicial rights within Pakistani constitutional framework. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court has refused to take the case of recent killings owing to the disputed nature of Gilgit Baltistan. Therefore we request the UNO to make necessary arrangements to ensure safety for the natives of the region. We demand that UNO should intervene to stop genocide at the hands of government backed terrorists.

We would like to draw your attention to the following:

1- In the light of UN resolution of January 5, 1949, the UN Security Council must ensure genuine political, judicial, economic and cultural autonomy in Gilgit Baltistan

2- Given that Pakistan has failed to ensure security in Gilgit Baltistan, UNO must station its peace keeping troops in the disputed region

3- Pakistan must be asked to open traditional trade routes leading towards India and Tajikistan which can help sustain local economy and provide alternate safe routes to travel as currently, travel on the Karakoram Highway is life threatening.

4- Violating UN resolutions, Pakistan abolished State Subject Rule in Gilgit Baltistan in 1974 and subsequently settled tens of thousands of her nationals to change local demography. Today the people of Gilgit Baltistan are threatened with ethnic cleansing. UNO must ask Pakistan to respect UN resolutions and remove her citizens who have damaged the social fabric by spreading extremism.

5- UNO must ask Pakistan to remove fake sedition cases and release all political prisoners. A UN commission must be sent to Gilgit Baltistan to assess gross human rights violations, killings, detentions and torture of political workers.

6- Recently more than 120 soldiers of Pakistan controlled Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir died near the Siachen glacier after glacial melt and overflow damaged a village. UNO must ask India and Pakistan to remove forces from Siachen sector and convert the area into a peace park.

7- Pak must end curfew in Gilgit and ensure free and safe travel to all inhabitants on all routes.

In good faith,

Manzoor Parwana
Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement
Skardu, Baltistan

Date: 16/4/2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gilgit-Baltistan: People should realize the gravity of the situation and promote unity

SKARDU: 9/4/2012

Ideological terrorism is being promoted in Gilgit Baltistan and if the residents of the region do not rise to defend the ideological boundaries of the region and defeat those who are hatching conspiracies against the nation then we will lose everything. These views were expressed by Gilgit Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) chairman Manzoor Hussain Parwana while speaking at a program organized by Karmang Students Federation on 8 April 2012.

Parwana alleged that PPP lead government is conspiring to pitch the people of Gilgit-Baltistan against each other on the basis of sectarianism. The region is once again has plunged into the sectarian warfare to prolong anti people colonial agenda.

He said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should realize the gravity of the situation and promote unity and brotherhood in their ranks to foil the designs of their enemies. The history and culture of Gilgit Baltistan was being distorted. The world is not our enemy but sectarianism, poverty, unemployment, favoritism, corruption and illiteracy is our common enemies were.

He said peace cannot be ensured in the region unless and until those behind the killing of innocent people in Kohistan , Chilas and Gilgit and conspirators behind the recent incidents were hanged at the “Chowk” publicly. These incidents should be probed by an independent organization like the UN to ascertain whether state machinery or some non-state elements were behind the spread of sectarian hatred and violence in Gilgit Baltistan.

He said a delegation of nationalist parties would soon visit all parts of Gilgit Baltistan to meet people from various walks of life and explore the possibilities of finding a lasting peace in the region because peace committees and Jirgas formed by the state have always failed to achieve their objectives.

Issued by
Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Gilgit Baltistan United Movement

Gilgit Baltistan: Leader demand to maintain peace in the region

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gilgit Baltistan: Joyride to Death in Pakistan

Engineer Manzoor Hussain Parwana

When the police constable stopped a Skardu bound bus at the Shangla check post and asked for the identity cards, it made many passengers turn pale with fear. Without wasting any time, many ducked their heads behind the backrest while others pretended to fall asleep. Some even dropped their ID cards under their seats. It was only after the constable checked few of the ID cards and got off the bus that the passengers felt like a heavy weight was lifted off their chests.

At first sight, it might not seem a normal reaction to many except to those who have read about the unfortunate incident of February 28, when several armed men in military uniforms pulled 18 Shias out of four Gilgit bound buses and shot and killed them in front of their loved ones. The incident occurred in the broad daylight and very close to the two check posts located in Kohistan district. Yet, the vehicles carrying more than 20 assailants were able to disappear from the crime scene without any trace.

After the bloodshed, many in Gilgit Baltistan raised the slogans, like “Yeh Jo Dehshetgardi Hai; Is Ke Peechay Wardi Hai”, which suggests that the people of Gilgit Baltistan believe that the assailants had support of the Pakistani agencies. The recent incident reminds them of the Shia massacre of 1988, when military dictator Zia-ul-Haq directly supported the militants during attacks on fourteen villages of Gilgit Baltistan. Thousands of people lost lives, honor and property during that episode which lasted for sixteen days. The slogans also show that people have lost faith in the law enforcement agencies in their responsibility to maintain law and order in the region. They accuse the paramilitary of fueling sectarianism in Gilgit Baltistan to weaken the masses and tighten control over the strategically located disputed region.

As terror has engulfed the region, even routine checking of vehicles at police and military check posts frightens the passengers. Now the peaceful and innocent people of Gilgit Baltistan, who are known worldwide for their hospitality and loud laughter, are forced to undertake the journey from Islamabad to Gilgit Baltistan in the shadow of death. Now people are even hesitant to leave the vehicles to use toilets or obtain food from the restaurants as are too scared. They feel that the lofty and graceful mountains of Diamer and Kohistan have become very unfriendly to them; the same mountains which once drew thousands of climbers every summer.

For the people of Gilgit Baltistan, travel on the Karakoram Highway is no joyride. Some among the passengers are students attending the universities of Pakistan; others are temporary employees in different urban centers of the country; while some are patients on their way to the hospitals in Islamabad and Lahore. If government plans to provide jobs, and health and educational services in Gilgit Baltistan, then these people would not have to travel and risk their lives like this.

They ride these buses and vans out of compulsion since they have no alternative means to travel. KKH is the sole road that links Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan. On the other hand, air travel is extremely expensive and poor people of Gilgit Baltistan, where the per capita income is one-fourth of that of Pakistan’s average, cannot afford to ride a plane.

A soldier attached to the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) and currently stationed in North Waziristan Agency accompanied the scribe in the same bus. While talking about safety measures during the travel on KKH, he said, “The travellers especially the Shias have to prepare in advance to conceal their identities to ensure personnel security. The journey is emotionally and psychologically exhausting. If we travel without ID cards, then the security forces hold us back, but if we carry the cards, then we lose our lives”.

On average, 5,000 people travel daily on KKH between Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad. This means that in Gilgit Baltistan, there are more than 5,000 families which have to spend hours in stress, fear and pain, until their loved ones have made it to the other end of the journey. Many mothers, sisters and wives spend millions of rupees daily to make religious offerings as part of their prayers for the safety of the passengers. On occasions, people slaughter domestic animals as part of the offerings to God while women even make offerings of their jewelry on the shrines and sacred tombs. One might not realize, but paying for life insurance through religious offerings does affect the financial stability of these families.

When the bus reached Besham Qila, Ali Hussain, one of the passengers, received a call from his mother, who had sold her jewelry for ten thousand rupees to pay for his airfare. She had strictly forbidden her son to travel by road given the looming danger in the aftermath of the Kohistan killings. However, after waiting for four days, and experiencing repeated flight cancellations due to bad weather, Ali Hussain embarked on the same bus with the scribe for Skardu. He lied to his mother about his whereabouts and ensured to continue to wait for the plane ride. People like Ali Hussain find it very difficult to justify paying for daily hotel and taxi charges, especially if the same money was needed somewhere else to pay for a child’s tuition fee or health care of a family member. After finishing the conversation with his mother, Ali Hussain then called his friends in Islamabad and requested them to follow his version of the story, if his mother or any other relative ever called them.

The case of Kohistan killings will be forgotten like the previous incidents. The corrupt and incompetent government has as usual blamed it on the religious groups and called it a sectarian issue. It distracts the masses temporarily and hides the crimes of the real culprits who live under the protection of state. At the same time, it leaves longer lasting negative impacts on the society.

A hotel owner in Kohistan who was serving tea to the bus passengers said, “Government is looking for excuses to start a military operation in Kohistan. Our people are not involved in the Shia killing but our land was used by the assailants. The Karakoram Highway is dotted with security check posts every few miles and yet, the assailants escaped conveniently. For us, KKH is the lifeline. The vehicles, goods and passengers which travel on this road sustain our economy and livelihoods. How can we think of destroying our own livelihood by killing passengers and customers? It is beyond anyone’s imagination. We will starve to death if there is no traffic on KKH. Now the people of Gilgit Baltistan are demanding to open the Line of Control (LOC) and travel to Kargil. If that happens, then it will be a significant financial loss for the businesses on the KKH.”

The Sunni youth from Darel who tried to protect the Shia passengers and got himself killed in Kohistan reminds us that the issue is not about Shia and Sunni differences. On the same day, a Sunni passenger from Gilgit claimed one of the Shia passengers as his brother and saved his life, which is a testimony that Shias and Sunnis desire to co-exist peacefully. It is a shame that the government has failed to arrest the real culprits and has resorted to blaming the Sunnis of Darel and Kohistan for the mayhem.

Now the government is planning to establish 30 more check posts on the KKH and few more in the Gilgit city. Kohistan incident has become yet another excuse to beef up security in Gilgit Baltistan and convert the region into a jail. This will also add to the time of travel on KKH.

From Islamabad, it took 34 hours to reach at Alam Bridge, the point where Gilgit and Skardu roads fork. When the bus crossed over the Indus River and lurched towards Skardu, people rejoiced and congratulated each other. One passenger, Haji Mohammad distributed tangerines among others to celebrate safe journey. The life slowly returned to the bus as one could hear cheerful conversations and occasional chuckles. The thought of an impatiently waiting mother also brought smile on the face of Ali Hussain. The passengers felt like receiving second life after arriving unhurt and alive to Baltistan. If the government takes serious measures for security of the passengers on KKH, then such joys could become permanent. Before another incident like Kohistan takes place, the charter of demand presented to the regime by the leading Shia and Sunni religious groups namely Anjuman Imamia and Anjuman Ahlesunnat Waljamat should be fulfilled

Engineer Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Gilgit Baltistan United Movement

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Skardu Kargil road :Tear down the Berlin Wall of Asia

Hundreds of thousands of angry people have gathered in Skardu and Kharmang valleys where the slogans of long march to Kargil are echoing in the air. The protesters are shouting against the regime and the military for failing to maintain law and order in Gilgit Baltistan. They are demanding arrest of the murderers of 18 Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan who were recently shot and killed in Kohistan. All the victims were part of the religious tour-group, returning from Iran, and were traveling in a bus on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which connects Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan.

The Death Highway, as KKH is often dubbed, has consumed hundreds of lives since its construction in 1978. However, it is not the reckless driving or bad road condition, which takes so many lives. In most of the cases, religion has become the main catalyst behind these deaths. The well-organized protests have forced both the army chief of Pakistan and the home minister to visit Gilgit Baltistan, which also reflects on this reality that the slogans of ‘long march to India’ have finally persuaded the authorities to pay attention to the unstoppable killings of Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan. The authorities ensured the protesters of immediate action against the perpetrators; however, their tactics to mollify the angry mob would not change the fact that not a single assailant has been arrested and prosecuted in the last six decades.

On the other hand, the protesters are asking the regime to immediately open the Line of Control (LOC) with India and resume travel over the historical trade routes leading to Kargil, Drass, Khaltse and Nubra. These demands are old and consistent but have gained momentum since 2003, when Shia killings on KKH became a more common occurrence.

For last six decades, the LOC has functioned like the Berlin Wall of Asia dividing the people of Gilgit Baltistan and Ladakh, who are otherwise linked through common history, civilization, geography, culture, religion, language and economy. The people of both regions term this division unnatural and demand resumption of trade and travel across the LOC. These trade routes which open towards Ladakh and Kashmir have sustained the livelihoods and culture of Gilgit Baltistan for centuries. Until 1948, the Baltis and Astories used these routes to access markets, and educational and health facilities in Srinagar, Shimla and New Delhi. The entire life of the people of Baltistan and Astore depended on these routes. In 1948, when India and Pakistan engaged in a war over Jammu & Kashmir, the passage was closed down isolating Baltistan from the rest of the world. It was not until 1978, after a jeepable dirt road connected Baltistan with Gilgit, when the people of Baltistan started traveling by land again. For all those 30 years from 1948 to 1978, commodities were flown into Baltistan by air. Closure of these routes destroyed economy of Astore, Skardu and Gangche districts and deeply affected the valleys of Kharmang, Gultari and Chorbat. Among the affected people are tens of thousands of refugees who desire to meet their loved ones and wait for India and Pakistan to end their war over Kashmir and enable free travel across LOC. These refugees belong to Skardu, Shigar, Nubra, Gultari, Kharmang, Turtuk, Tyakshi, Chulungkha, Chorbat, Chushot, Kargil, Leh, Drass and Zanskar.

The slogan to resume travel and trade over Kargil-Skardu road was first raised in the early 1990s and Syed Haider Shah, the then leader of Baltistan Students Federation organized rallies to garner support. He declared to lead a long march towards Kargil for which he was charged for sedition and detained and tortured for several months in Chilas prison. Often such demands are seen by Pakistani rulers as mutinous and activists raising such slogans are often labeled as Indian agents as part of victimization and intimidation campaign by the Pakistani secret service agents. The agents also spread rumors in Gilgit Baltistan that India would easily occupy the disputed region if the traditional roads are opened towards Ladakh and Kashmir. For some times, such rumors did manage to thwart the general public from intensifying their just demands for free travel and trade.

In 2005, the scribe traveled to India to attend a conference on Jammu & Kashmir and once again demanded resumption of travel and trade over Kargil-Skardo road. In 2007, Gilgit Baltistan Democratic Alliance, the largest political alliance of Gilgit Baltistan, incorporated this slogan as part of its manifesto. Nowadays these slogans have become very popular and even the federalist political parties rely on such slogans to gain attention and sympathy of the masses.

However, one must admit that both India and Pakistan have failed to implement on this particular aspect of CBMs and to the dismay of many, the issue of resuming travel over Kargil-Skardo road was also dropped from the agenda of July 2011 foreign ministerial meeting. The apathetic attitude of Pakistani government thereafter forced thousands of Ladakhi refugees to protest in front of the UNO office in Skardu on July 27th.2011. The next day, police arrested and detained the scribe in Gilgit jail for supporting the protest rally of Ladakhi refugees. The FIR No. 211/11 filed against the scribe stated: “Manzoor Parwana provoked the masses by drawing attention towards a protest rally in Skardu on 27th of July during which resumption of travel on Kargil-Skardu road was demanded. The participants of the rally threatened to march towards the LOC and Parwana welcomed this gesture of the refugees. Therefore Parwana has been charged for treason under articles 123A, 124A and 153A.”

The FIR proves that supporting a march towards Kargil or demanding resumption of travel across the LOC is considered treason by the authorities. This remains the policy till date despite the fact that travel and trade from Khokhrapar in Sindh, Lahore in Punjab and five other transit points in Jammu & Kashmir continue between India and Pakistan with the approval of authorities. If travel to India from Lahore, Muzaffarabad and Khokhrapar is not a treason, then travel to Kargil and Leh from Gilgit Baltistan should also be allowed. A ban on travel between Gilgit Baltistan and Ladakh continues despite the fact that freedom of travel and commercial activities are granted to every human according to the human rights charter of the UNO and Pakistan is signatory to that charter. The FIR exposes anti-human and unjust policies of Pakistani rulers. The fact that Pakistan continues to discriminate between the people of Gilgit Baltistan and those living in Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh reminds one of the apartheid era. Free travel is the birth right of every resident of Gilgit Baltistan and they will not stop from demanding it.

The march of thousands of people of Kharmang valley towards Kargil on 28th February, 2012 is approval of the viewpoint of the nationalists. Despite curfew restrictions and danger to life, honor and property, the protesters marched towards the LOC and even the military barricades could not stop their movement. The movement has intensified after the representatives of Shia and Sunni religious parties; Anjuman Imamia and Anjuman Ahlesunnat Waljamat, have endorsed the demands by incorporating into the charter of demands to the government of Pakistan.

The message is loud and clear that the people of Gilgit Baltistan and Ladakh cannot be kept separated any much longer. In the midst of the slogans of ‘long march to Kargil’ rising in the air, it was informed that the nationalist hero, Babajan Hunzai, expresses solidarity with the protesters from the dungeons of Gilgit jail, where he has been kept since last five months for demanding rights for the flood victims of Gilgit Baltistan.

This is the victory of the nationalist ideology that people like Babajan and the scribe represent and many among us have sacrificed time, energy, physical and mental health and economic wellbeing to promote this cause. Despite social boycotts, detentions and torture, the nationalists will continue to spread the message of truth and humanity among the natives of Gilgit Baltistan.

Engineer Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Chairman , Gilgit Baltistan United Movement

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gilgit Baltistan: Bus attacked a conspiracy to defused unity of people.

Manzoor Parwana Chairman Gilgit Baltistan United Movement strongly condemned the cowardice cold blood and criticised the Pakistani government for failing to provide security to the passengers of Gilgit Baltistan at Karakuram Highway.
Terrorists gun down 18 passengers in an ambush on a passenger bus in KPK Pakistan province at Karakuram highway on Tuesday early in the morning. When the unfortunate bus reached at Harban Kohistan gunmen disguised in military fatigues dragged out the Shiites check their identity cards ,name and sect and shot 18 Shiite Muslim men in a frequently silence region of KPK province Pakistan.
Another eight people were wounded in the attack, including three women and three children. The bus carrying 25 passengers from Rawalpindi to Gilgit.
Parwana feared that the motive was not might be sectarian. The gunmen were wearing army uniform," The buses move at KKH within security forces supervision daily. But a question raised here that where went the security personals at the time of terrorist attacked.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan had called a protest rally against the government on Feb 28 .The Sunny leader Qazi Nisar and Shia Leader Agha Rahat is going to join hand on the rights of the masses on Wednesday. The agencies tried to sabotage and defuse the unity of the people of Gilgit Baltistan by designing like this sectarian rift “He claimed.

Issued By
Manzoor Parwana
Gilgit Baltistan United Movement

Gilgit Baltistan: Passenger bus ambush at highway condemned