Emerging conspiracies in Gilgit-Baltistan
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan
In South Asia, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir has the main catalyst of, “militarization, open and protracted wars, extremism, and underdevelopment.” Northern Areas of Pakistan, renamed as, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), being part of disputed Kashmir state, remained affected for quite some time.
This huge landmass and geographically mountainous region of 72,971 square kilometers is sparsely populated with only 1.2 million people. It has approximately twenty-four small and large ethnic and linguistic groups. Within the main faith of Islam, the approximate population of Shiite in GB is 39%, Sunni 27%, Ismaili 18% and Noorbakshi 16%. However, despite having multiple ethnic, sectarian and linguistic grouping, there has never been a split among the peace loving people of the GB for centuries. They have been living with complete harmony and mutual respect.
It is only after 1980s that, the foreign sponsored elements intruded in the region and created a rift among the Shia-Sunni population. However, this rift remained restricted to a smaller faction of both sects, who played at the hands of foreign elements. The general population of the region remained away from this menace of hate and divide, thus, resorted to inter-marriages even and co-existence. They have been jointly managing their affairs and fought against their common enemies together.
While tracing the history, one would learn that, at the time of its independence in 1947, Pakistan confronted with numerous challenges and problems. Its symbolic armed forces just few thousands in number had not established themselves on ground.
In fact, those who had to form part of Pakistani armed forces had to be repatriated from the British Indian military, stationed all over India. They had to pass through the lengthy process and travel from various parts of India to this newly established state. Besides, small in number, they were lacking the requisite war munitions and necessary equipment. While the armed forces of Pakistan were still in their formative stages, India invaded Kashmir.
This Indian move was indeed to quill the popular uprising of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas, who wanted to be part of Pakistan. Through well-planned strategy, the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas was kept undeceive and in the favour of India.
Visualizing a conspiracy against their future status by India and the notorious British Rule, the people of the area, revolted against the local Dogra Rule, considering Pakistan as their final destination. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan indeed fought their war against the Dogras and British almost independently. The motivating factor behind them was a future where they could spend their lives as per their wishes.
They found Pakistan as their home, thus decided to join this newly independent God gifted state upon winning their war against the tyrant rule. Since then, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are firmly holding the flag of Pakistan and are spending their lives as the most sympathetic and loyal Pakistanis. In the entire history of Pakistan, there has never been a chance that these determined and strong nerve people had ill-feelings against their homeland, Pakistan.
There have been governance related issues throughout the country, and owing to its disputed nature, GB people suffered more than any other part of the country. However, a few years back, after the constitutional reforms, the people of GB have been given their basic rights with a Legislative Assembly of their own. Now the people have the right to elect their representatives, who then legislate for the area and people.
Through many reforms, the deprivations of the local populace have been redressed largely. The only problem, facing the innocent people of GB is the foreign sponsored sectarian clashes. There have been worst sectarian clashes in the past few years.
Unfortunately, there have been such clashes in Karachi, Quetta and other parts of the country and the involvement foreign elements have been found in it. However, Government has taken strict measures to end these clashes to a greater extent.
While the devoted and loyal people of Gilgit-Baltistan are spending their lives happily, there are foreign sponsored elements that are hell bent to destroy the very peace of the region through the instigation of simplistic local populace for promoting the cause of external actors.
Unfortunately, these betrayed people have been brainwashed by foreign spying agencies and now propagating against the state of Pakistan on various ill-conceived motives. Among this betrayed class, Senge H. Sering and Imtiaz Hussain are more prominent. Imtiaz Hussain is President of GB National Congress and is a Virginia based Satellite Engineer, a staunch anti-Pakistan lobbyist.
As I could gather the bio-data from ‘The Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a New Delhi based think-tank, Mr Senge H. Sering is native of Shigar (GB). He had strong affiliation with spying agencies of India and some other global powers and was enrolled with Indian think tank, IDSA, as a visiting fellow in 2009. Graduated from Pakistan in textile, he completed his master degree in Developmental Studies from University of East Anglia, U.K in 1990s and thereafter is under the trap of anti-Pakistan forces.
After having gone through constant brainwashing exercise, Mr Sering is currently, managing the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies based in Washington DC. He is also the member of the board of directors of the Gilgit – Baltistan National Congress. This enlightened scholar has the grievances that, why Pakistan is developing new road networking and constructing new dams and other facilities in GB areas.
He desires that people of the area should be pushed back to the old ways of living with extreme poverty and difficulties, since it is easy to manipulate the illiterate and ill-informed people. Since India and few other major powers are opposing the Sino-Pak cooperation, thus this tarnished GB native is against any joint venture where China helps Pakistan in the development of the area.
He is forgetting the fact that construction of KKH through the Sino-Pak joint venture provided him the opportunity to come to Faisalabad to the study and further to UK and US for higher studies and now conspiring against his homeland for his personnel gains.
In his one of writing entitled, “Expansion of the Karakoram Corridor: Implications and Prospects”, published in 2012 as New Delhi base think tank, IDSA Occasional Paper No. 27, Sering writes, “http://www.idsa.in/system/files/OP_Karakoramcorridor.pdfChina has huge and long-term presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and is building extensive road, bridge and telecom networks to sustain it.
The drivers compelling China to develop Karakoram Corridor are diverse and mainly pertain to its economic, strategic and political ambitions. However, the projects, which currently serve the strategic and economic interests of the investor, need to promote interests of the local people and enhance their decision-making power and control over project revenues on priority basis.
Growing Chinese interference in local affairs will create friction among different stakeholders and lead to instability in Gilgit-Baltistan. Chinese and Pakistani control over resource-revenues may be a short-term tactical move, but will fail to provide any long-term strategic gains.
The role that locals see for China in Gilgit-Baltistan is first to withdraw from the occupied valleys of Shaksgam, Raskam, Shimshal, and Aksai- chin; secondly, to refrain from getting involved in the affairs of J&K including Gilgit-Baltistan; and thirdly, to persuade Pakistan to withdraw from PoK including Gilgit-Baltistan. This can help bring peace and stability to South Asia.”
As happened in the past, the new road network and infrastructure would open new vistas for the development of people of the area especially the youth to have access to the modern education and better living facilities. Why does the ill-willed writer desire to deprive others from their basic birthright of education and good living standards? On the request of Pakistan, China is supporting Pakistan in the development of many areas of Pakistan, KKH expansion being one of them.
As an independent and sovereign state, Pakistan has the right to seek help from friendly countries for the development of the infrastructure in any of its part. Since owing to economic reasons, Pakistan cannot manage the economic cost of the developmental work, thus opts for the joint venture with China.
This joint venturing does not mean a compromise over the national interests. Those in the country plan such ventures better understands its benefits or otherwise. Mr Sering is not a representative of the GB. Maximum, he is a native of the area without a mandate of representing the people of GB or even his native village.
In his polluted writing the basic them is nothing else but Indo-US strategic game against Sino-Pak cooperation. If China is forthcoming for the development progress of the locals of GB, what is bad in it? This indeed is blessing in disguise and every Pakistan welcome the Chinese help.
The fact of the matter is that, people of GB are very sensible, thus cannot be entrapped through wicked and polluted writings of people like Senge H. Sering and Imtiaz Hussain. After reading his writings and ill-willed literature there is hardly any confusion in the mind of any sensible person as to who promote sectarian clashes in GB and other parts of the country.
Indeed, ethnic strife and sectarianism serve the purpose of such people, who while sitting thousands of miles away cash such incidents for the vested interests of their drivers; the forces intend seeing a destabilize, poverty ridden and impoverish Pakistan and such Pakistani nationals are indeed the tools of these forces who pay them for selling their conscious and loyalties. Killing and abducting the Chinese in Balochistan and other parts of the country by either sub-nationalist and paid agents of foreign spying agencies has been on the peak in last one decade.
These foreign spying networks and their Pakistani agents as mentioned above are against any sort of development in any part of the country, especially the underdeveloped areas of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.
It is a challenging time for the scholars, academia and even intelligentsia to expose the real face of such forces, who desire to push Pakistan to the dark ages. Besides, the electronic and print media of Pakistan should also expose to the nation, the ill designs of such elements and their global supporters, who provide them the platform, finances and facilities to launch propaganda against the national integrity of Pakistan.