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[News] Kaira the First Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan

September 16, 2009 2 comments

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Asima Beg (Gilgit): The Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs, the Northern Areas and Information an MNA from Lala Mussa, Punjab is  now also the Acting Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan. The official notification for Kaira’s nomination as Acting Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan was issued on Saturday. The oath has been adminstered by Chief Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court Mr. Abbasi, a non local judge appointed by the KANA division.

The day the governor was presented a guard of honour by the workers of PPP  and a bunch of federal ministers form Islamabad attended the ceremony. The Federal Cabinet had approved the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009 on August 29,  follwing that President Asif Ali Zardari signed it on September 7, 2009. The order is said to be aims at giving the northern areas full autonomy and a new name, however the people of Gilgit-Baltistan rejected it as an ‘Eye Wash’.

The acting governor stated that the name of his ministery Kashmir and Northern Areas Affairs would be change now. However, he remained short of announcing the additional seat for Hunza, in negligenc of a moving popular deamnd.

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[Press Review] A powerless legislature for Gilgit-Baltistan

September 15, 2009 9 comments

( By Abbass Ali ), Dawn Daily News: September 13, 2009

The Gilgit-Baltisatn Empowerment and Self-Governance Ordinance 2009 promises to give full inter nal and political autonomy to the Northern Areas by restructuring the existing current legislative set-up which critics consider is an ‘old wine in a new bottle’. However, a welcome aspect of the new reforms is the change of name of the region from Northern Areas to Gilgit-Baltistan, which gives a sense of identity to the people. The government has thus avoided the blunder of giving the region a geographical name as has been the case with the NWFP for sixty years.
The reforms package has been bitterly opposed by Kashmiri politicians and in particular by the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) of the both sides of the divide. In a TV interview Yaseen Malik said that ‘the reforms package for Gilgit-Baltistan is like a bullet for Kashmiris’. Mr Ammaullah Khan, Chairman of JKLF, said ‘We strongly condemn this package. It will harm the interests of Pakistan as well as Kashmiris,’ Their views, it is interesting to note, received more space and importance in the country’s print and electronic media than of political leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The reasons for JKLF leaders’ anger is easy to understand and can be traced back to pre-partition days. Kashmiris, Pakistan and India for long have had considered Gilgit-Baltistan part of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, ignoring the events that preceded the independence of the subcontinent relating to Gilgit-Baltistan.

But, contrary to their views, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and also the international institutions such as the UN, EU, etc., have always upheld that the rule of Maharaja Harisingh over GilgitBaltistan as a colonial occupation had ended with the success of ‘Jang-i-Azadi Gilgit-Baltistan’ on November 1, 1947, when the last governor of the state of Kashmir Mr Gansara Singh and his associates were killed in the war between Gilgit Scouts and Kashmiri forces.

This had ended the century long Kashmiri rule over the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Then, a new independent state called ‘Islamic Republic of Gilgit’ was established and after 14 days of its existence it had affiliated itself with Pakistan as a separate entity, independent of Kashmir.

However, since then Pakistan had kept the status of the Gilgit-Baltistan undefined and in fact muddled its identity by naming it ‘Northern Areas.’ Gilgit-Baltistan has never been part of Kashmir. Each year since 1947, people of Gilgit-Baltistan celebrate their independence day — independence from Kashmir — on November 1 just as Pakistan and India do on August 14 and 15.

The new reforms package, keeping in view the past history, is a progressive step for it recognises the fundamental human rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. But it seems that the media in Pakistan is not fully aware of the history of Gilgit-Baltistan because it often describes the region as part of Jammu and Kashmir. A reputed national daily in its headline even named Gilgit-Baltistan as Northern Areas of Kashmir rather than its previous name of Northern Areas of Pakistan.

Renaming the region, one hopes, would end the confusion and help promote its political position as a separate entity from Kashmir.

Other than renaming the region, rest of the package is a pack of gimmickry and is more a symbolic gesture of empathy towards the people rather than a real change in the governance structure of the area. One of the fundamental demands of the people of the region has been self-governance and transfer of powers from the ministry for Kashmir and Northern Areas affairs to the elected representatives, (now of new Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly) in the subjects of finance, administration and Judiciary.

The current set-up is a hybrid form of a provincial set-up and that of AJK assembly but with minimal powers to the elected representatives. The current chief executive will now be replaced by a chief minister who will be elected by a 33-member assembly that includes six women and three technocrats. A governor will be appointed by the president of Pakistan and he will head a 12-member council, half of them from the Assembly and another half to be appointed by him.

The governor will have greater say in the affairs of the council. This measure is a calculated move to deprive the elected assembly of its democratic and decision making powers. This would reduce its status to an advisory body of the council which would be dominated by un-elected but powerful nominees of Islamabad. This reform is the most undemocratic and detestable measure, disempowering the people of GilgitBaltistan. Islamabad will thus continue to maintain its tight grip over the governance structure of the region.

The governor will also have greater say in the appointment of the chief judge of appellate court and 5 other judges, as he would recommend the names to the chairman of the council, the prime minister of Pakistan. The elected chief minister would not have any say in it. Expected announcement of a high court is missing in the package, which means the people will have to go all the way to Islamabad for appeals.

The package is completely silent regarding administrative set-up. Hitherto, the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly (NALA) was virtually subordinate to the chief secretary of the Gilgit-Baltistan and DCOs of districts were in control of all financial and administrative matters. They were and will be appointed by Islamabad and will report to Kashmir and Northern Areas Affairs ministry without being accountable to the new chief minister.

This leaves the elected members of Gilgit-Baltistan with little or no say in development matters. Administrative affairs will be subject to the whims of inefficient and corrupt bureaucrats appointed by Islamabad. Formalisation of Gilgit-Baltistan Service Commission is a good step but is too little.

According to the package, the financial autonomy of the legislature remains highly ambiguous, but it is clearly shown that powers would remain with the council not with the assembly. Assembly could only pass the budget whereas control over revenue and expenditure will be the task of unelected body of the council.

The ordinance is intended to appease the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to create conditions for achieving the objectives of construction of much controversial dams and exploration of minerals in the area. The falsehood of the package came to limelight more vividly when in a briefing to Kashmiri leaders from the both sides of divide the foreign minister Mr Shah Mahmmud Qureshi stated that in the package there was ‘nothing substantial and only the separation of two divisions of Gilgit and Baltisatn and rest of the rules of engagement remain the same as they were’.

Further, it serves to calm down the international pressure regarding the violation of fundamental human and democratic rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan ‘without a genuine change in the political status of the region’.

Although the package is very much short of empowerment and self-governance, it has once more brought to the fore the question of Gilgit-Baltistan being part of Jammu and Kashmir. In fact Kashmir attracts tremendous media coverage because of atrocities committed there since partition of the subcontinent. Gilgit-Baltistan remained completely neglected. Why?

It is because India and Pakistan fought three mega wars over Kashmir and then within Kashmir, more often Jehadist have adopted a regressive approach under Kalashankof culture against either India or Pakistan which has attracted significant media coverage and sympathies.

Incidentally, the peace-loving people of Gilgit-Baltistan have not indulged in any violent engagement either against Pakistan or India to seek their fundamental rights and right of self-rule. In a peaceful and decent manner they have always raised their concern regarding their deprivation but governments in Islamabad have often been indifferent towards their demands.

If Islamabad does not solve the genuine problems of Gilgit-Baltistan and only tries to put the real issues under carpet as they have done now in the form of ‘Empowerment and self-governance ordinance 2009’ they would be providing fuel to the already flamed nationalism in the region.

Mere promises cannot empower the people; it needs practical measures like transferring real powers to elected representatives which has not been done. source

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[NEWS] First Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan

September 15, 2009 Leave a comment

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Qamar-uz-Zaman Karira, MNA from Lala Mussa, Punja. The first Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan

Islamadabd: (Ali) Today Mr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira, the Federal minster for information as well as Federal Minsiter for Kashmir and Northern Areas Affairs, would take oath of the first Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, a portfolio created in the recent so called ‘empowerment and self-rule ordinance 2009’ by the government of Pakistan. The package has been denounced and rejected by the political authorities of Gilgit-Baltistan as an ‘eye wash’ or ‘ghost package’ instead of transferring the power in real sense to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who are deprived of the fundamental human rights and political autonomy of self rule.

Political activists belonging to various parties termed September 15, 2009, as another chapter of plundering the democratic and human rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, by imposing a non-representative governor from Islamabad. It is part of the black history of post-colonial colonialism; the current governor would be viceroy of government of Pakistan for its colony of Gilgit-Baltistan. Talking to the GBpost, the president of All Gilgit-Baltistan Political Rights Committee (AGBPRC), said that they will keep on their struggle until the objective of self-rule and autonomy of Gilgit-Baltistan is achieved according to the UN resolutions and rejected the imposition of an alien Governor from Islamabad.

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[INTERVIEW] An exclusive interview with Mr. Kamil Jan, candidate for Gilgit-Baltistan Elections 2009, with GBpost

September 12, 2009 4 comments

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Mr. Kamil Jan, a self made person, who started his career from scratches and reached to a commendable position in his area of trade, has a conscious mind and sympathetic heart to feel and support those who are suffering and in need of help. Over a period of time he utilized his gains of success among many people and in particular among the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as a philanthropist. His contributions ranges from helping the current IDPs of Swat to the victims of devastating earthquake in Kashmir along funding many large and small community welfare projects across Gilgit-Baltistan in general and particularly in Hunza.

Having established his own career Mr.Kamil Jan is now looking forward to contribute in a more dedicated manner for the welfare, socio-economic and political progress of the people of Hunza. He opted to fill a very wide gap of conscious and committed political leadership, who are ready to serve in the political sphere for the people in real terms in Gilgit-Baltistan and Hunza, so he has decided to contest the upcoming elections for Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan (LAGB) from Hunza.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Post, (GBpost) has got the opportunity to interview this great son of the soil of Gilgit-Baltistan:

GBpost: What is your top most priority as a politician of Gilgit-Baltistan?

Kamil Jan:  My top most priority is to create unity among all sections of the society, I mean, we are divided on the basis of many artificially created divisions such as religion (sects), cast, geographic area and language, this diversity is in fact strengths of our regions not a matters of division and conflict. For centuries we lived together like brothers and sisters, suddenly in two to three decades what has happened to us that we are fighting with each other on petty issues. My top most priority is to contribute to create harmony, love and brotherhood among all people of our area without any regard of political affiliation, ethnic or what so ever.

GBpost: Have you decided regarding any particular political party that you would represent for elections?

Kamil Jan: No. I would not be representing any political party for elections rather I would contest in elections as an independent candidate.

GBpost: Would it not support your election campaign if you be affiliated with a political party for elections?

Kamil Jan: Well, I would not contest elections to muster any political support for myself, I am participating with the objective of social work, I feel that if I will be elected I would have opportunities to serve the people of my area and in the case of election yes people of Hunza. I do not want to be dictated by parties, yes, when I will win the election, I would look at the situation and would decide considering the benefits of the people of Hunza to be affiliated with a political party which would be in best positions and will have capabilities to serve the people of Hunza.

GBpsot: To what extend it is appropriate to join a party on the basis of opportunities?

Kamil Jan: Yes. It is, because my only aim is to serve the people of Hunza in particular and Gilgit-Baltistan in general. I want to provide the people of Hunza a strong bargaining power. Inshallah, I will win the elections, and that would not be my personal victory, it will be the victory for the people of Hunza, at every step I would represent the interest of the people of Hunza.

GBpost: How would you assess and know exactly what the people of Hunza want and demand?

Kamil Jan: I am a humble son of the soil of Hunza, I belong to the common people of Hunza and live with them all the time. My own personal experience, observation and reading tell me a lot what the people of Hunza needs and wants. However, I am a firm believer on consultation and team work. I want to start a new chapter in the history of Hunza, by formation of a ‘Grand Consultative Council for Hunza’ (GCCH), which would be responsible to chalk out policy and strategy with further consultations with ‘Village Based Consultative Councils’ (VBCCs), in a systematic manner, on the basis of it I will perform my duties. I think, this would put me in positions very effectively to know exactly what the people of Hunza want and demand from me, and I will be answerable to this grand council and people of Hunza in general for my duties and actions as their representative.

GBpost: What are your major areas of concern, to start work immediately after winning the elections?

Kamil Jan: I will focus on alleviation of poverty, Education in terms of finance all those who could not bear the fees, I want every child of Hunza to go to school, Improving the government hospitals and health centres to provide quality health services for each and every one and supporting NGOs in this regard, I will focus on women’s development through creating more and more employment opportunities, developing infrastructures such as roads, water channels, and electricity. An another area I want to work is to eliminate disputes among villages on petty issues of land or other matter as it is wastage of many of our precious time, money and human capital.

GBpost: One final question, what are your views regarding the demand for an additional seat for Hunza.

Kamil Jan: My views are very much clear regarding this important matter, the people of Hunza have the right of additional seat proportionately on the basis of population of other regions, where a seat has been allocated to an area with 10, 000 population, so why not for Hunza, which has a population over 60,000 individuals. An additional seat for Hunza is important because it is linked with the allocation of development funds of Gilgit-Baltistan among different constituencies, if we are not getting an additional seat it means Hunza is deprived of more than 70 million rupees, which would be a huge lose for the people of Hunza. It does not mean I am against allocation of more seats to other areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, rather it is my pleasure if my brothers in Nagar too will get more funds as well, because we could be developed together not alone, my emphasis is on allocation of funds equally and with justice all over Gilgit-Baltistan, either I will be elected or not I will fight for the rights of Gilgit-Baltistan not only for Hunza.

GBpost: We request you to answer one additional question?

Kamil Jan: please go ahead. (Smiling!!!)

GBpost: If government in Islamabad denies an additional seat for Hunza, as it has been announced by Kaira, what would be your strategy for election?

Kamil Jan: It is very obvious that we people of Hunza would not participate in the elections, and would boycott it until the seat is not allocated and notification is not issued.

GBpost: Thank you so much for sparing time for GBpost, from your very busy schedule as we know you are highly engaged nowadays with meeting and conferences regarding upcoming elections. We wish you best of luck for your success.

Kamil Jan: (With a smile); My pleasure and thank you too for your noble endure for creating awareness among the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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[NEWS] Long March from Hunza to Gilgit

September 11, 2009 1 comment

By:Rehmat Khan.

Hunza: The Hunza Action Committee has decided to Long March from Hunza to Gilgit,  in a consultative meeting after the announcement of Mr. Kaira that ‘it is not an appropriate time for an additional seat for Hunza’. The leaders belonging to various walks of life decided regarding a long march to demand an additional seat for Hunza, as it was notified at the time of President Pervez Musharaf’s government, however, the PPP’s reform package of Gilgit-Baltistan has abolished it. In this connection a highly successful really was already held in Hunza, further relies are planned in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore by the people belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan.

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[NEWS] No additional seat for Hunza

September 11, 2009 1 comment

ISLAMABAD, Sept 10 (APP)‑ Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Governor‑designate Gilgit‑Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira assured the people of Hunza that their grievances would be properly addressed with equal distribution of funds and development schemes, as per size of the population. “There will be no discrimination, in respect of political and socio‑economic rights of the people”, he said in a statement issued here Thursday. 

Commenting on the demand of another seat in the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly (NALA) for Hunza, he said that it may not appropriate at this stage to accommodate it, when the date of the Asssembly’s elections is coming closer.

The Minister said that the demand of de‑limitation of the constituencies, according to the population size would be considered in due course of time.

Qamar Zaman Kaira said that PPP government does not believe in any sort of discrimination, and was following a policy of giving due rights and privileges to the people of Gilgit‑Baltistan judiciously.

Reasonable and equal distribution of funds would be ensured to all the districts of Gilgit‑Baltistan. (source)

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[NEWS] Protest rally in Hunza, for an Additional Seat in LAGB

September 9, 2009 1 comment

In Hunza a massive rally held to protest against the discriminatory attitude towards Hunza by the successive governments in Islamabad. The main focus of demands was an additional seat for Hunza, proportionately to the other regions of Gilgit-Baltistan. However, banners were asking some other burning issues as well, such as, “why additional District Status of Hunza from 1974-1978 had been abolished????”  Another banner is reading “Honesty and Decency are our traditions and way of life, oppression and alienation is your constitution, tell us tyrant forces how long your oppressive constitution will survive????”

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The rally was organized at Ali Abad, Hunza, the administrative headquarter, in which people from all regions of Hunza, Gojal, Kunjut, Shinaki have participated overwhelmingly. The rally was organized by Hunza Action Committee (HAC), participated by PPP, PML (Q), PML (N), Hunza Progressive Forum (HPF), Religious Scholars, Social Activists, Intellectuals, and masses in general.

This rally marked a first ever massive mobilization of people from across Hunza and it indicates a thrusting political momentum on the face of devastatingly pushing to the wall like situation by the political zealots of Islamabad. The rally has been timed ahead of the expected visit of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousf Raza Gilani on September 12 to Gilgit-Baltistan, where he is expected to announce a separate district for Hunza-Nagar. However, people of Hunza protested that without an additional seat in Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan (LAGB) establishing the District of Hunza-Nagar would be a vain exercise.

Prominent speakers where, Advocate Ahsan, Noor Muhammad, Mirbaz Khan, Ghulam Muhammad, Afsar Jan, Ali Quran, and Atiqa. It is decided the protest will remain candled till the approval and notification of the additional seat for Hunza before the November 12, 2009 elections of LAGB.

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