Several political leaders and general public in Gilgit-Baltistan have raised concern over the promulgation of Gilgit Baltistan Order, 2018 replacing the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009.
Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, which essentially seizes the powers of Gilgit Baltistan Council and entrusts Prime Minister of Pakistan with indisputable authorities vis-a-vis Gilgit- Baltistan, was officially promulgated on May 21.
The unilateral decision has drawn the disappointment and ire of civilians and political leaders cutting across party lines, alike.
All have categorically condemned the decision citing it discriminatory, authoritative and suppressive in nature. They have also termed it devastating to the future of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The lawmakers have alleged that the order that boasts of empowering the people of the region by giving them unprecedented liberty to exercise their fundamental rights across the country is, in reality, another document of deceit and falsehood, designed tactfully to further suppress the beleaguered the indigenous people of the occupied territory.
“This has happened for the first time in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan that all MLAs cutting across party lines have come together for an issue. People ask as to why this didn’t happen in 2009? That time the situation was not same when GESA (Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009) was promulgated then each party had individually pointed out the flaws in the act. Today also, the situation is same and we are watching wrong transpiring before us. Government is doing what is beneficial for it (not us). We believe, if the 2018 ordinance comes into force then Gilgit-Baltistan will never be able to rise,” said a member Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly.
Another member of the Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly said that the government should reconsider the amendment.
“When we had met them (the drafting committee), majority of us had proposed few demands (in the benefit of Gilgit-Baltistan) and we were promised their fulfillment. We were also promised that time that we would be given a fair representation in the parliament. However, they bypassed it in the final draft. We would like that to be reconsidered and we also want that agreement which was presented in the Gilgit-Baltistan assembly to be incorporated with the final draft,” the leader added.
Meanwhile, another leader said that the “devious amendment will give exceptional rights to the people of the other parts of the country which could further exacerbate the issue of demographic change in the country.”
“Islamabad, which have disregarded the constitution of the country and has resorted to extreme measures in dealing with the people of Gilgit Baltistan claims that the order will provide greater empowerment so as to bring Gilgit- Baltistan at par with other provinces. However, the region has been denied any extraordinary right that is enjoyed by other four provinces of the country. In fact, through a devious amendment describing the citizenship, it has given exceptional rights to the people of the other parts of the country which could further exacerbate the issue of demographic change in the country,” he said.