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Pushing the inhabitants of Gojal Valley into further isolation

By Didar Ali

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Gojal is the largest tehsil of Gilgit-Baltistan, where the 25000 inhabitants find their lineages in various parts of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The valley is considered to be the safest place in Pakistan, even though it has many towns connected to Afghanistan and Chinese border.

Literacy rate of the valley is above 90 percent, which further boosts urbanization, especially among educated youth of the area. Joblessness, rare investment opportunities, poor infrastructure, health facilities and ignored tourism sector are prime reasons for low socio-economic development of the area.

The year 2010 added another misery in shape of Attabad disaster, which completely blocked the Karakorum Highway and turned the whole valley into a complete dungeon. Those self-reliant inhabitants became dependent on various international AIDs.

Now they are waiting for another nightmare, a decision which will be imposed first from federal setup then with the help of provincial (don’t know where on earth this province exists) setup of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The poor locals of the area have been demanding a separate electoral seat for the largest tehsil of the region, for so long. But the delaying tactics and lack of interest by the political setup has made it impossible for people of the area.

In 2003, Gilgit-Baltistan Council mindlessly recommended that the seat will be given to the area, but Altit and Ganish villages will also be party to it, which was categorically rejected by the people of Gojal.

Considering the fact that the people of Gojal are victimized by the central Hunza setup for ages, such proposed ideas are preposterous in every aspect as the authorities have ignored historical and ground realities of the area.

During the election year 2009, people of Gojal valley unanimously voted for Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), believing that the Party will deem their sole demand. But it all went with the wind as other promises, which the political figure made during their election campaigns. Four years down the line and there is hardly any development on the said demand. People of the area are losing hope in their representatives.

A bad news has been floating through some backdoor channels that the decision has already been made by the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the deal has been hit without taking people of Gojal on-board. According to the new deal, Karimabad (Baltit) is also part of electoral seat, including Altit, Ganish and rest of Gojal. For the second electoral seat Dhorkan, Aliabad and Nasirabad will be fighting for their rights.

Who wins and looses??

For the first electoral seat Altit, Baltit, Ganish, Shishkat, some part of Khyber-Sost, Khudabad, Misgar and Raminj will stand together. Such a scenario will give a visible picture of ethnic divides based on dialects. Most Brushu speakers of these areas vote for PML (N). Until today they consider the so called Mir (of no men’s land) Ghazanfar Ali Khan as their lifetime leader.

There is a strong possibility that Amjad Ayub and Izhar Hunzai will also contest the upcoming elections, which will make the vote pretty tricky. Amjad Ayub will use the platform of PML (N) if their mighty Mir allows, but one cannot expect much difference as the old wine will be in the same old bottle.

Izhar Hunzai might use a different platform or will contest as an independent, but he will get some votes, as those inspired of Nasir Uddin Hunzai and Khan-e-Hikmat will play their part at any cost.

Whoever contests from Gojal Valley will have to face the music; there will be hardly any chance for a contestant to gain majority, as part of the votes will go to the above said personalities of Hunza, no matter based on ethnicity or certain belief.

Such divide will neither affect the vote bank of PPP in central and lower Hunza, nor will it do any personal damage to Mr. Wazir Baig; therefore, he is reluctant to take the decision in favor of Gojal Valley in his tenure. Such awful situation seems playful to Mr. Wazir Baig in coming election, but it will terribly affect social harmony in the region.

People of the area were expecting their elected candidate to deliver upon their aspirations while realizing their dire need. Sadly, Mr. Baig is now ostracizing the sole demand of the people of Gojal, which will lead to disastrous outcomes. Chief Minister of GB, Mr. Mehdi Shah, has been avoiding the issues as well, even though he promised the allocation of specific seat for the area.

If the authority manages to impose the notorious decision, it will be a beginning of ethnic discrimination, which will slowly hike towards moral, social and economic destruction of the ignored population.

Suffering with such unjust and unheeded behavior will provoke revolt in the region. Most probably the locals will march towards China as they have already roots there.

A couplet of Qabil Ajmeeri fits the scenario here.

Waqt Karta hay parwarish barsoon

Haadssa aik dam nahi hota

Therefore, it’s high time to consider the important demand, which is an electoral seat for the people living from Ayenabad to Chipursan Gojal, with true hearts and mind.

Didar has a passion to write about arts, culture, philosophy, politics, technology and tourism. He is also a cultural critic. He blogs at OINOMANCY. He can be reached at alee_st@yahoo.com

The views expressed by the writer, the reader comments, the perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes expressed through this blog are those of individuals and participating users, and are not necessarily aligned with the views, policies, standards, and practices of Mountain TV.

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