Gilgit Baltistan And Shafqat Inquilabi
By Dr Shabir Choudhry
13 June , 2010
For the first time in the past 63 years, rulers of Pakistani Administered Kashmir were allowed to visit Gilgit Baltistan, area of the State which has been under direct and oppressive rule of Pakistan.
The State was partitioned after the war between India and Pakistan and puppet rulers of Pakistani Administered Kashmir signed away vast areas of Gilgit Baltistan to their political bosses in Islamabad; and limited their interest to the area known as Azad Kashmir.
Since 1947 bureaucrats and secret agencies of Pakistan ruled Gilgit Baltistan with an iron fist, and rulers of Pakistani Administered Kashmir turned blind eye to the plight of these unfortunate people; and enjoyed their rule and sincerely served their Pakistani masters. They continue to serve and flatter Islamabad, even at the cost of interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The party (Muslim Conference) that signed that ignominious treaty with Pakistani rulers, in view of some, worse than the Treaty of Amritsar, had no branches or even a single member in the areas of Gilgit Baltistan. One wonders what moral or legal justification they had to sign that treaty and leave the people of 28 thousand Square miles at the mercy of oppressive and imperialist minded bureaucrats of Pakistan.
One wonders with that kind of blunder which made lives of millions of innocent people like a living hell, how do these so called leaders and champions of ‘freedom movement’ could sleep at night?
After signing this agreement, Muslim Conference leaders and rulers of Azad Kashmir almost forgot about the plight of the people of Gilgit Baltistan; and confined their rule and interest to the territory of Azad Kashmir. In early 1990s when the Kashmiri struggle was at its peak and many Kashmir watchers thought India might leave Kashmir on condition that the entire State becomes an independent country.
With that in mind Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir of the time, anticipating a change and having a desire to become a Prime Minister of the entire State of Jammu Kashmir contacted his bosses in Islamabad to allow him to visit Gilgit Baltistan. The boss concerned demanded reason for this; and the Prime Minister who thought he was becoming more important and had more influence because of the changing scenario on Kashmir said in the current situation it is important to visit Gilgit Baltistan to spread our influence.
He was bluntly told to keep away from Gilgit Baltistan, as these areas were responsibility of Islamabad. Moreover, he was the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, and Act 74 clearly explains parameters of his power and influence; so he must not step outside those parameters, if he wanted to continue with his job. The Prime Minister apologised for his mistake and did not dare to ask permission again.
Perhaps the situation has changed, and both the Prime Minister and the President of Azad Kashmir were given permission to visit Gilgit Baltistan and give a donation of one Cror rupees. They went to express solidarity with the people of Gilgit Baltistan who have been uprooted because of Ataa Bad artificial lake. According to one estimate more than one hundred thousand people have been uprooted because of this lake, and people have suffered enormously because of lack of proper facilities.
They were received by Governor Dr Shama Khalid and Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah who thanked them for extending their support to the people of Gilgit Baltistan. Why did Pakistan allow Azad Kashmiri rulers to visit Gilgit Baltistan?
Is it because there is a change of policy in Islamabad, or they went there because bosses in Islamabad feel this territory is no longer part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and had become a province of Pakistan without calling it a province?
When there was some ambiguity regarding the legal status of these areas, Islamabad did not allow any ruler of Azad Kashmir to visit Gilgit Baltistan. In September 2009, Pakistan unilaterally and against bilateral and international covenants on Kashmir changed legal status of these areas and practically made them a province of Pakistan.
So, as far as Islamabad was concerned they have allowed the Prime Minister and the President of Azad Kashmir to visit a ‘Pakistani province’. The question is how do people of Jammu and Kashmir State think of this? What reaction, if any, people of Gilgit Baltistan have shown, now that they have experienced a ‘provincial status’ for some time?
What reaction ‘naita jees’ of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, who claim to represent all the Kashmiris have shown; or they are too frightened to speak about Gilgit Baltistan because their political masters in Islamabad could get angry, as the role assigned to them is to limit their activities within the boundary of the Valley.
In any case, naita jees of APHC have myopic view of the struggle and want to see everything with the lenses of religion. Apart from that their struggle is very heavily commercialised and negate politics of ballot and democracy, hence their influence is restricted to some sub districts of the Valley.
People of Azad Kashmir, unlike their rulers, have shown their anger against Pakistani designs on Gilgit Baltistan. But the question is, is that enough? Do they think their job is over and they can sit back and relax?
One man – Shafqat inquilabi, who challenged the Gilgit Baltistan Ordinance imposed by Islamabad on people of Gilgit Baltistan without and kind of consultation has been made example by the secret agencies of Pakistan; and sad thing is, apart from Kashmir National Party no one has come to even support him verbally.
Shafqat Inquilabi challenged this Ordinance in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, hoping to get justice from a Pakistani judiciary, which is perceived to be independent now. Despite many efforts he has not been able to get hearing date yet because the secret agencies believe that they can twist arm of Shafqat Inquilabi to withdraw the case; and this fact speaks volumes about the independence of judiciary, especially when it comes to Gilgit Baltistan.
Shafqat Inquilabi is an engineer by profession, and as a sub contractor was constructing some buildings in Pateka near Muzaffarabad. He had invested about nine lakhs rupees (nine hundred thousands) which he borrowed from some friends including me. To date, Shafqat Inquilabi has stood his ground and refused to give in to the pressure of secret agencies, but not without a big price.
Because of tremendous pressure of the secret agencies, the concerned people have expelled Shafqat Inquilabi from the project. He is out of job and has also lost all the money he had invested in the project. In order to ensure that he is alienated socially, all his friends and relatives were cautioned to keep away from him otherwise they will also suffer economically.
All this is happening in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a country which was established in name of Islam, but most of things which occur here are against clear teachings of Islam. They claim to provide protection to non Muslims, but in this land of pure even Muslims are not safe, as every day they are killed by jet fighters and helicopter gun ships; and non Muslims are systematically targeted and killed.
What Pakistan is doing is not surprising, as all imperialist and totalitarian governments do this, they curb civil liberties and in name of nationalist interest they kill and imprison innocent people. However sad thing is the attitude of nationalists of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. They have not supported him, even though demand of their nationalism was to unconditionally support him.
One could only think of three reasons:
They don’t want to support it out of jealousy because it will indirectly mean supporting KNP – a party which helped and supported Shafqat Inqquilabi and continue to do so;
They don’t want to face wrath of secret agencies; especially when some of the credit could go to Shafqat Inquilabi and KNP; Perhaps they are fake nationalists; and in disguise of nationalism are actually promoting and protecting interests of Islamabad.
It is a test of Kashmiri nationalists to come out and support Shafqat Inquilabi’s case; and while doing so also ensure that Shafqat Inquilabi does not become a victim of the secret agencies. If he is made to surrender that will boost the confidence of the secret agencies; and it will make it extremely difficult for others to challenge the might of these agencies.
Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
To view other articles see my blog: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com