A Letter To Parliamentarians, From The People Of Gilgit Baltistan
We speak on behalf of 2.5 million people of Gilgit Baltistan, who had shown their allegiance unconditionally to Pakistan. We would like to draw your kind attention to some issues which are creating a state of uprising in GB.
This letter will serve as a source of information having facts and figures and as a catalyst to give constitutional rights to the people of GB by putting both the regions (i.e. GB and Jammu & Kashmir) in juxtaposition.
GB is not a constituent part of the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir as it is a historically proven fact that, out of the total entities of GB, Gilgit Wazarat, princely states of Hunza & Nagar, Koh-e- Ghizer, Ishkomen, Punial, Yasin, Baltistan Astore and tribal areas of Chilas, only Gilgit Wazarat formed part of Kashmir, while other areas remained under the paramountcy of the British government of India.
Maharaja Hari Singh always claimed that Gilgit Agency formed his state of Kashmir Darbar and in support of his claim he submitted a detailed note to British Government of India. The final decision of the Viceroy in March 1941 put an end to the confusion on the status of the constituent units of the agency that Princely States of Hunza, Nagar, koh Ghizer, Ishkomen, Punial, Yasin, and entities of Chilas are under suzerainty of the Kashmir state though they are not part of Kashmir but are separate states and tribal areas.
As the British were the paramount power in India and Kashmir Darbar had accepted the paramountcy power of the crown, the Viceroy had all legal authority to define the status of any part of India. Unfortunately Pakistan had always ignored the historical facts and kept whole of GB in limbo as to the Constitution of Pakistan.
Another aspect which we would like to bring to your notice is that after three months of independence, on 1st November 1947 the GB scouts with the help of the people of GB liberated the erstwhile Northern Areas (Now GB) from the Dogra regime by arresting Brigadier Ghansara Singh, Governor of Mahraja Kashmir and formed an independent government in Gilgit. However, after 16 days, the people of GB acceded the liberated territory with Pakistan.
In 1948, India took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. The Security Council on hearing both sides passed its resolution on January 17, 1948. It was supplemented by a detailed resolution on January 20, 1948 whereby a commission of the UN was established which is commonly known as UNCIP. It is pertinent to mention here that both the sides agreed to withdraw armed forces and to hold plebiscite and till then both countries would administer the regions with local authority.
The constituent assembly of India provisionally incorporated Jammu Kashmir into the Constitution of India under Article 370 while interpreting the term ‘local authority of the UNCIP resolution’.
The citizens of the disputed territory of erstwhile State of Kashmir (Jammu Kashmir) under occupation of India are enjoying all constitutional rights and protections guaranteed under the Constitution of India – they are enjoying the equal status of Indian citizenship. They are eligible and qualified to become members of the Parliament of India, President, Prime Minister of India, and also eligible to join the highest judiciary of India. The state subject rule (SSR) protecting the right of ownership and demographic changes within the region, still has legal force, however it isn’t recognized as trustworthy for the defence of India.
Whereas, citizens of GB are neither eligible nor qualified to become, members of the Parliament of Pakistan, President, and Prime Minister of Pakistan as well as to join the judiciary of Pakistan, even though the people of GB are eligible and qualified to join the armed forces and are trustworthy for the defence of Pakistan – the conferment of Nishan-e-Haider to Lalik Jan is a lively example of the recognition. Moreover the people of GB are paying all types of federal taxes including income tax. The state subject rule (SSR) has been suspended. The rights of haq-e-milkiyat-o- hakimiyat and fundamental, democratic and financial protections available to other provinces of Pakistan guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan, are not available to the citizens of GB.
Despite Gilgit Wazarat having a historically proven fact of liberation from Dogra Raj; the termination of the lease agreement between British Government of India and Maharaja Kashmir during the year 1935; the March 1941 decision of Viceroy regarding the remaining entities of Gilgit Agency; and judgment passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 28 may 1999, the treatment of the Pakistani government with GB as a disputed territory of Kashmir has been wrong from the outset.
Under UNCIP resolutions, both India and Pakistan agreed to administer both the sides under their dominion by maintaining local authority. The phrase ‘administration by local authority’ of UNCIP resolution, has been interpreted in different contexts. India has provisionally incorporated JK under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, while AJK has its own constitution, whereas GB is being controlled by the Federal Ministry of Kashmir GB Affairs from Islamabad without any constitutional cover. This is another example of discriminatory treatment with regards to GB, JK & AJK.
It is hard to digest that, if the territory of GB is disputed, how has the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project been signed when CPEC passes through the GB territory and how has the Diamer Bahsha Dam project in GB been planned and for how many more years will the people of GB be forced to wait for their right. Are the people of GB slaves or humans?
On the basis of the foregoing reasons, we are of the clear view that GB is an undisputed part acceded to Pakistan and GB should be given constitutional status as a province in the Constitution of Pakistan.
We, therefore, request you to play your role in the Parliament of Pakistan for a permanent solution to this long-standing issue of GB by declaring it a full-fledged constitutional province of Pakistan. In case of disagreement to the facts mentioned above, we request to bring GB at par with the status given to the Indian Occupied Kashmir by the Indian Parliament back in 1948.
Amjad Hussain Azar
President PPP, GB
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which he might be associated.