Google_plus Pinterest Vimeo RSS

Gilgit-Baltistan People Must Know Reason for Decades of Alienation...

HRCP report on G-B: People must know reasons for decades of alienation

A fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has recommended that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) must be taken into confidence regarding reasons why their region has not been integrated into Pakistan for the last 66 years.
The HRCP report, titled “Caught in a new great game”, was launched here at a local hotel on Saturday. HRCP executive council members Ghazi Salahuddin, Roland D’Souza, Hussain Naqi and Najimuddin and other were also in attendance.
The report encompasses the views of members of the administration, representatives of religious, political parties, civil society members and HRCP volunteers and district coordinators who shared information regarding human rights issues and other concerns in all seven districts. The HRCP mission visited G-B during October 2013.
The report says that after consultation with locals, all options including an Azad Jammu and Kashmir-like setup or granting of provisional or permanent provincial status should be considered.
It said that the people of G-B people should not be denied basic human, constitutional and political rights while linking their fate to the lingering Kashmir dispute.
The HRCP report recommends that the reform process that began in 2009 must continue and the G-B assembly should be fully empowered to take decisions.
Rather than rooting the reforms in executive orders, an act of parliament should be extended to the area to guarantee constitutional and human rights to the people, it recommended.
The report says that the people of G-B should be given representation in the National Assembly and Senate at the earliest and the region should have at least one observer each in the NA and Senate until a mechanism for formal representation was agreed on.
It says that G-B should be authorised to make amendments to the “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009” or any other subsequent framework while making exceptions for a few legislative subjects that Islamabad would retain.
In addition, transparency in government hiring would go a long way in restoring people’s confidence, the report says.
“Greater political participation for women must be guaranteed. This should not only mean reserving seats for them in the legislative assembly, but also representation in other decision-making positions.”
The report stressed that a mechanism to end sexual harassment of women during travel and at workplace and to lodge complaints about the same should be extended to the area and girls students should be awarded scholarships to enable them to realise their potential by gaining greater access to education.
The report suggested that quota reserved for students from G-B in educational institutions of Pakistan must be enhanced and there was a urgent need of new educational institutions and improvement of old ones in G-B.
The report also recommends that schools and institutions were needed to offer education in disciplines that should be in synch with the local economy and natural resources, besides establishing libraries and avenues for literary and cultural activities in all cities and educational institutions.
“The authorities should conduct a survey to assess the number and needs of physically-challenged persons in G-B and make a plan to provide adequate facilities for their education and healthcare.”
It says that the government should make prompt efforts to adequately compensate and rehabilitate the families affected by the Attabad Lake disaster and prepare a framework to prevent internal displacement and also ensure the rights of the displaced in case they were forced to leave their homes.
The report proposes that a clear policy on media advertisements for government jobs should be adopted to end any suspicion of favouritism, that right to information laws should be honoured, and any orders by government officials to withhold information from the media must be withdrawn.
It said that men arrested in connection with sectarian killings had not been sentenced so far, which raised further anxiety and suspicion. “The killers should be punished and the victim’s families be given adequate compensation. Full protection should be available to all those traveling to and from G-B.”
The report advocated that besides preventing attacks on passengers on the Karakoram Highway, madrassas promoting religious hatred must be closed and people involved in murders in the name of religion must be arrested and brought to justice to restore the faith of victims’ families in the writ of the state.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.