By Didar Ali
Liberty is a prized gift to human being on planet earth. Some of us have inherited freedom by birth, and some of us have struggled hard to get it. But, freedom doesn’t mean one go wild, get drunk, dance with weapons or kill people in the streets, as many of us have dogmatized the phenomena in contemporary era. The real concern is not that one is enslaved with iron fists, but that one accepts and celebrates the marvels of a freedom wrapped in slavery.
It has never happened to any nation that had overpowered a powerful army with scarce resources, agonized with hunger and harsh weather, only to get liberty. But, ironically it has also never happened in any nation’s history, neither has any nation committed such reckless mistake: Fighting a victorious war against the Dogras to get the throne of liberty and then requesting the browns from plain to come and rein them.
Gilgit-Baltistan can be best called a “DEMESNE” (which means a possession of real property in one’s own right), rather than a province, a state, a country, a kingdom or anything else. The word is self-explanatory if we come out of our cocoons and think rationally, for a while.
You may have listened about movements of separation from states and countries; we have hundreds of examples, even the great divide of the subcontinent is not so old. But, it is astounding that there are movements of affiliation, which in my view is a rare case. The affiliation of Gilgit-Baltistan with Pakistan is one of a kind, which has been proved to be an identity disorder for the people of the area.
Undoubtedly the contributions and sacrifices of our independence heroes are incredible, inimitable and unforgettable. However, the so called independence has left people of the area adrift and with some broken identities.
The question is: “Who really benefited from the so-called freedom?”
Are they locals of the area, who still consider themselves a flock of forced patriot or the dishonest bureaucrats, mindless politicians, the holy militia or some faithless religious bigots who have turned this beautiful land into complete dungeon.
The land of Gilgit-Baltistan is blessed with immense natural resources, which are enough for a landlocked state to run a smooth setup, yet none from the plains is ready to realize its importance and listen to the grievances of its people, not even the so-called human rights activists and commentators.
A completely insane person would expect loyalty from the imported high officials who are instinctively unfaithful to this land, the shady militia that has used the setup as money making machine, the preposterous political system that continues to remain connected back to Islamabad to decide the fate of GB and the religious extremists who have remained on payroll of their masterminds from the plains to instill terrorism and uproar on our peaceful land.
So, what steps are needed to be taken to get GB liberated from the shackles of slavery?
Giving Gilgit-Baltistan a complete provincial setup and right of decision making and political representation in the national assembly will help building trust and also support leaders of the area to take decisions considering ground realities. It has lots of hurdles in its way to materialize; including the issue of Kashmir and the UN resolution, yet when the people of GB can get their land liberated from the Dogras then struggling to get their own identity is not a distant dream. It should not be a political or media stunt to make some mouth shut, rather needs very serious consideration to bring people of the area in national loop.
Sadly, facts on the ground are even sourer and harsher than before; one can hear dogs barking on Pakistani media against GB, saying Pakistan has four provinces, brushing aside the mountain people. Not only this, if you go though books and websites stating geography of Pakistan, you will see that Gilgit-Baltistan is demarcated in same color along Kashmir and rest of Pakistan in another.
Majority of the unidirectional literates of Pakistan still consider Gilgit-Baltistan a disputed territory along Kashmir, which I consider a big curse since people of the area continue to hate the conspiracy aimed to amalgamate their identity with that of Kashmir.
Declaring Gilgit-Baltistan a “Tourist Free Zone” and boosting tourism related activities in the area will help sustain the region’s economy, improve quality of life and perk up developmental work in the area. It is a high time to take such initiatives for better future, peace and prosperity of the region and to overcome the rising extremism. Developing the agriculture sector of GB besides facilitating farmers of the area to national and international markets will help a major segment of the population to earn their livelihood in a respectful manner.
Guns have never been a solution to extremism, but education has played pivotal role to bring aimless youth into the social loop; therefore, strengthening the educational institution of GB will lead to development, prosperity, and peace. If the situation remains as it is now, then I fear people of the area are doomed.
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