Our real ‘jugular’

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What we have done to Gilgit-Baltistan

Like today’s politicians and strategic experts do not know how Balochistan came to be a part of Pakistan, they similarly do not know how Gilgit-Baltistan came to be apart of Pakistan. For the sake of recall, Gilgit-Baltistan used to be a part of the Kashmir state that the people freed from Dogra raj. Post-independence, the people of GB voluntarily decided to join the federation of Pakistan and wanted to be given the status of a federating units like the others. But the then rulers of Pakistan, pleading on the basis of the lack of an administrative infrastructure, stated that they would have to be part of the Pakistan federation for the time being without being declared a separate province. They would be given that due status once the requisite administrative infrastructure was in place. Given our national predilection for amnesia, no one remembered this pledge even though the people of GB constantly kept reminding governments and repeatedly asked for recognition of their identity. In 1963, an important part of GB was given under the control of China without asking from the people. Given their allegiance to and love for Pakistan, the local populace accepted this unjust decision. Finally, the incumbent government came through on the historical promise of giving them provincial status.

It is pertinent to mention here that it is the people of GB, after the people of East Pakistan, who fought their war of independence themselves, got their freedom and joined Pakistan of their own volition. Of Pakistan’s current territory, there was widespread disagreement in the then province of NWFP. The Red Shirts movement boycotted the referendum and because of that boycott, the province became a part of Pakistan after the referendum. The Sindh Assembly had passed a resolution in favour of Pakistan but there was no noteworthy expression of desire from the people there. The province became a part of Pakistan according to the plan of partition. The resolution that had been passed in 1938, in fact was passed in the assembly of the province formed after separation from the Bombay presidency. During the elections for this assembly, the issue of Pakistan had never come up. The resolution was passed 1938 whereas the resolution for Pakistan was presented in 1940.

Similarly, the Pakistan movement in Punjab was also restricted to a few days. The elections that took place in Punjab before independence, the Muslim League had not gotten a majority in them. Along with Hindus and Sikh, the party of the Punjabi feudals, the Unionist Party, formed a coalition government and the chief ministership was given to Khizar Hayat Tiwana. During this time, the movement for Pakistan had already gained steam. Thus, the Muslim League also protested against that government in Punjab and registered their participation in the Pakistan movement. Some Muslim Leaguers were arrested. Some feudals also had an R&R session as jailbirds. But this agitation in Punjab wasn’t even a miniscule portion of the entirety of the Pakistan movement and the sacrifices rendered for it. Punjab’s English governor hinted to all the Unionists that since the Pakistan movement was about to achieve its end, it was better for them to join the ML. And as the night fell, all the Unionist became Leaguers and West Punjab became a part of Pakistan. If Punjab had prepared it case to present to the Radcliffe Award, then Ferozepur and Gurdaspur could have become parts of Pakistan. Batala especially would never have gone to India. But the Punjabi Muslim League was barely able to fight its own case properly which is an indication of its seriousness of purpose.

However, returning to the point I was making, it was the people of East Pakistan that had rendered the most sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan and after them, the people of GB who got their territory freed from an oppressor and joined Pakistan. The decision about East Pakistan was also taken by people who had no remarkable contribution to the creation of Pakistan. And now what is being done in GB is also being done by elements who never fought for the cause of Pakistan.

What did we lose after losing East Pakistan? Those who are pushing this country deep into a quagmire in the name of Islam still have no idea about how grave that loss was. The leadership of East Pakistan would never have let Pakistan be embroiled in the Afghan war. The Kashmir problem would possibly have been solved. Just like India, Pakistan would be on the road to rapid development. We would be standing with dignity in the comity of nations. Our society would have been free from the scourge of violence. No OBL would have been ensconced safely in our quarters and no Hafiz Saeed would have had the gall to support foreign terrorists. We have seen all this because we let East Pakistan go. And what is happening in GB now, if I allude even perfunctorily to it, it would scare the daylights out of most.

Consider: What is the geographical location of GB? On the one hand, it joins with KP and on the other with Azad Kashmir. The Karakoram Highway passes through it and that is where our and China’s territories meet. North to that is Wakhan strip which is a part of Afghanistan. But this is the area which directly joins Pakistan to the landmass of Central Asia. China is conducting many great developmental worksin GB. China is going to build a big water reservoir in this area, 80 percent of the expenditure for which China will bear itself. This Chinese reservoir will act like a lifeline for our Daimer-Basha dam. If this reservoir is not built, the Daimer-Basha dam will be but a pipedream. You must also know that the fountainhead of our aquatic lifeline i.e. the River Indus is also situated in GB.

I wrote in my previous column that if any flight from Indian territory to Afghanistan were to take fifteen minutes, it would be from this area. You fly from Occupied Kashmir to GB from where you fly to Wakhan in a matter of minutes. Now look at our relations with India and the US. Look at their capabilities and look at our own and you will clearly know what I am worried about. If we lose control over GB, the one that we never actually established, what would be the consequences for that?

Eighty percent of GB’s people belong to the Fiqh Ja’afria. They are a peaceful people. During Zia-ul-Haq’s reign, the Sipah-e-Sahaba started terrorist activities in the region which have now gained a lot of momentum. Gilgit has been in a curfew for the last three days. Corpses litter the roads and no one dare pick them up. Sectarian hatred is fermenting in South Punjab and our tribal areas and reaching that region. Kashmir is the ‘jugular vein’ without which we have been living for 64 years. But if some enemy gets hold of our jugular vein of GB, we will definitely not have 64 years…

The writer is one of Pakistan’s most widely read columnists.

19 COMMENTS

  1. A very informative piece which is very timely also. I would request Mr, Naji to write a similar article about Baluchistan as well.

  2. Thank you Naji sb for this piece. The state's failure to capitalize on our unconditional support for Pakistan is leading to a precarious situation in the region. Sane voices shall force the policy makers to not harm the country.

    • He wrote it in urdu…somebody translated it. He writes well, normally. I therefore recommend that u read his daily column in Jang.

  3. nice and full of information along with accurate facts and figures but there is one mistake which is not Eighty percent of GB’s people belong to the Fiqh Ja’afria but tehere is equal number of Ahl.e.sunnat and Ahl.e.shia population.

    • chirag by fiqa a jajfaria he means shia muslim who are in majority in GB and the rest of population is ismaili , sunni and noor bakhshi muslims

  4. The problem is that Pakistan is unable to take care of areas under its control. look at Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, KP, FATA, Swat etc. etc. This is because politicians are at war with their own army for control of Pakistan and unable to position Pakistan at international level for lack of authrity vis a vis Pakistan Army. AND army is in a swoon of its power and is unable to see beyond their nose. Pakistan should shun certain unrealistic notions and move forward under the principle of 'Live and let live' sothat it gains proper conrol over its areas and co-exist peacefully.

  5. Your column is nice but still you are not clear about the issue of GB …. some religious parties making this issue more for from our will. we need full provincial power from Pakistan but Pakistan is still not giving us our political rights … always give ordinance based governmental administration which has no resources even for their TA/DA. we need our basic rights and a government with full provincial authority which could control such coming issues…

  6. Thanks to Arif Nizami for encouraging Naji to write such a brilliant article.

  7. Written very very true observations and consequences by Nazir Naji. What is lacking that should be linked and do not give chance to our enemy to divide us and rule.

  8. The written is optimistic but some facts are not discussed here. The Gilgit Baltistan is temporarily handed over to Pakistan for administrative ease as a result of Karachi Agreement 1949. At this stage we think that Pakistan is completely failed to protect the lives of GB people so she should voluntarily hand over the administrative control to the local people. The indigenous people are desperately feeling the loss of their Independent Republic of 1st November 1947. The puppet style fake Province is not alternative of our autonomy.

  9. hmmm..!! at last what has been ignored for the last 63 years comes to lime light by this man..!!

  10. By and large, this is an eye opening article. The question is that what should be the solution of the problem? I hope the best one is that any party should avoid vindictive strikes on innocent people and travelers. Second, violence breeds violence therefore non violence would be best answer of violence. Thirdly, the religious leaders who use innocent people most be trailed and punished.

  11. funtastic article v expect such type of informative articles more in future and plz write a special article on innocent people killed in Chillas and bring the real face of chillasi people who r devils in shape of human.

  12. Well written Sir. We live in Punjabistan, probably the two nation theory served its purpose till 14th august.

  13. you r rite mr. naji. This message is to be understood by power quarters who r in power to take decision in this matter. Sectarian violence is like a cancer for our homeland. The situation in Baluchistan and now GB is really matter of grave concern for a common Pakistani. We are very sorrowful and in tension but can do nothing to over come this problem. No muslim is and should be in favor of extremism, as Islam never allows to kill innocent people.

  14. a nice article yet again ending with the stupid religion which is source of sepretion among us, the humanity….Why can't we understand it that faith and religion is very personal between an individual and God> secondly I wounder why 90%(my approximate guess) of our common beleif have feiald to unite us and the minor differeces have played so well to divide us.

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