Saturday, April 27, 2013

Democracy and rule of law for Gilgit Baltistan

Speech of Manzoor Parwana delivered ONLINE in a Gilgit Baltistan Conference held in the George University Washington USA organized by “The Central Asia Program of the George Washington University” “ The Foundation for democracy and Rule of Law for regions in conflict” and “The Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies” , on 25 April 2013
 Mr. Chairman, Honorable Chief guests and Distinguish participants

 I am thankful to the Central Asia Program of the George Washington University the Foundation for democracy and Rule of Law for regions in conflict and the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies for giving me an opportunity to share my views in this historical event on the longstanding issues of Gilgit Baltistan. I have derived my topic “Democracy and rule of law for Gilgit Baltistan” from the name of co-host organization “The Foundation for democracy and Rule of Law for regions in conflict”.
I want to introduce myself to the participants of this workshop before my speech. My name is Manzoor Hussain Parwana. I am the chairman of Gilgit Baltistan United Movement (GBUM). The Gilgit Baltistan United Movement (GBUM) is an indigenous representative party which has been struggling for right of self determination of the disenfranchised people of the Gilgit Baltistan. I was imprisoned, harassed and tortured several times because of my unflinching resolve to work for achievement of the basic rights and freedom for the people of the disputed region.
 Gilgit Baltistan is the Conflict region for six decades between India and Pakistan within the frame of Kashmir dispute. On 1st November 1947, the local population of Gilgit Baltistan overthrew the Dogra regime in Gilgit Baltistan on their own and formed an independent government .This is supposed to be the real local authority of the indigenous people of the region i.e. one out of the three interim governments recognized by the United Nation to be functioning in the disputed former state of Jammu & Kashmir. The other two Governments are at Muzaffarabad and Srinagar.
 Unfortunately, the Govt. of Pakistan has mishandled and misrepresented to the international community and colonized the Gilgit Baltistan portion of disputed. This conflict region Gilgit Baltistan under the de- facto administration of Pakistan has no identity, no constitution, no system, no free expression, no impartial judiciary, no free media, no free movement, no human rights, no rights of vote and no freedom of expression but which is called the last colony of 21stcentury what Baroness Emma Nicholson, MEP in her report to European Union in 2007, has rightly described it at one stage that Gilgit Baltistan is like a “Black Hole” in the world.
 The unnoticed gross violations of human, political and religious rights perpetuated on our people for the last six decades are obscured, unnoticed and unheard. Gilgit Baltistan is not represented in constitution of Pakistan and thus not in its legislative apparatus, but unfortunately, all possible and cruel laws including FCR have been applied on the people of Gilgit Baltistan with full force.
 Gilgit Baltistan was trampled and wide-spread environmental, resulting in deforestation, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining, and extinction of wildlife, soil erosion, landslides and other perils. The government of Pakistan continues to extract various natural resources without any environmental safeguard; as a result, Gilgit Baltistan is facing an environmental crisis, the ramifications of which will be felt far beyond its borders. 
 The construction of the Diamar Bhasha Dam and Bunji Dams should be abandoned immediately where deadly explosive are being used. The construction of huge Dams in the vicinity of glaciers, by China, Pakistan and India should be stopped, particularly Pakistan must restrain from the construction of Basha/Diamar dam, Bonji dam and Katzura dam , so that the eco-system may be saved from the effects of dams.
The Chinese companies and firm has been working on mineral extraction in Gilgit Baltistan. Increased mining activities further reduces vegetation cover and thus increase the chance for severe landslides, massive soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitat and the pollution of streams and rivers. The use of highly flammable explosive is not only destabilizing the high altitude mountains but also diminishing the rare birds and animals from this region. This causes heavy toll to the echo-system of the nature. The environmental issue of Gilgit Baltistan is not an inconsequential regional issue, but has huge global significance to warrant international attention.                                                           The termination of State Subject Rules changed the demography of the conflict region. The main responsibilities of this pathetic state of affairs lie on the government of Pakistan but we can not exempt India from shunning her responsibilities as government of India claims Gilgit-Baltistan as hers but failed to raise befitting voice against human rights violations here.
 The opening of Kargil Skardu road is a longstanding and indigenous demand from both sides of LOC but India and Pakistan is showing reluctance to accept this demand, as both are accommodating the demands from the Kashmir Valley and discriminating against Gilgit Baltistan and Ladakh.
 At this historical event on the behalf of two Million of people of Gilgit Baltistan , I appeal to the United Nation, USA, European Union , Human rights watch, freedom house, Amnesty International and civilized countries of the world to pay attention to the plight of Gilgit Baltistan for their just cause of freedom.
 We 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,
We request the international community to offer 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.
We appeal that since Pakistan has no capacity or the will to solve constitutional and economic problems of Gilgit-Baltistan, therefore, the international community must pay immediate attention to address this impasse.
 We 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.
We request the international community to persuade Pakistan to end human rights violations in the disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan, so that natives could live a free life, a life of their choice, and a life with dignity and basic rights.
I once again thank the organizers and participants for this wonderful evening

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