Gilgit Baltistan: Where I do live, by Farooq Ahmed Khan!

by Mureed Bizenjo

I live in a place which gives a complete picture of stone ages despite the fact the world has developed so fast that every new innovation gets ‘older’, with each passing day. But the picture of my area is weird.The Gilgit-Baltistan region is hidden behind the mighty mountainous terrains and has many untold and unfolded, pathetic, stories. That is why the

countrymen still have less knowledge of the region which is an example of worst case of backwardness in present day.You name any civic facility and that will not be available in the region in a manner it might exist in other parts of the country.
The travel time between Gilgit and federal capital has increased by six hours due to deterioration of the Karakoram Highway, currently in a highly dilapidated situation and in need of overhaul at countless points.
The patients and elderly people are unable to perform 24 hours long travel by road in public transport while travel by plane is like crying for moon due to the high fares and unavailability of seats in Pakistan International Airlines, which is the only facility available for the public because the private companies hesitate to run their operation on the route which according to them is not economical.
The distance from the rest of country increases challenge for the residents manifold like continuous price hike hits hard the public which already facing unemployment.
The Public Sector is the main job provider and it can not, as a matter of fact, cater to demands of the region resultantly the area tops the places of country where unemployment rate is the highest.
The area was rich in agriculture sector but red tappism and Babos always kept this potential side ignored which could not boost up because experts were never engaged and those who studied on the expenses of national exchequer heeded more to make properties and increase bank deposits instead of utilizing their expertise for the promotion of agriculture.
The majority of the people is settled in rural areas and in far-off valleys which are ignorant of what is happing around and their only wish is to rush for the subsidized wheat which is sold in black markets by the officials of food department and get least.
The smiles are snatched from the faces of this mountainous community which has seen toughest living conditions since independence and largely ruled by bureaucrats.
The education system is purely designed to strengthen the elite class and maintain their supremacy and class difference as poor are born to send their kids in government-run schools where the basic education imparted by teacher is disrespect for those who are not following their school of thought and many biases of ethnicity and regionalism.
Above all, the government schools have contributed very significantly in promoting sectarian hatred and have literary become a mafia. Those who enjoy political clouts are in run to become wealthier overnight and this trend has promoted the menace of corruption in the region.
And if someone from the poor class of GB managed to come in civil services they set records of corruption, nepotism and favoritism while those coming from rest of the country took least interest in addressing the issues of the public rather completed their tenures with obedience of the clerics formerly and now a weak political government.
The area is unaware of political norms and the ruling party lacks coordinated efforts for the socio-economic uplift of the area as the differences between Chief Minister and his cabinet members as well as party workers surfacing from time to time.
Their lavish offices are too often full of party workers and supporters and voters from the respective constituency who are attended and others go to come again and again and even if they succeed to visit them they are paid lip services.
However, ruthless officialdom is evident of weak grip of political government as their interest are well protected and in return the secretaries of the departments are at liberty to fill the files with fake documents and draw the funds meant for public welfare but spent on their family’s welfare.
Nevertheless, sometimes there is resistance against the corruption from the top bureaucracy which is complained to the Prime Minister like the present failed attempts to transfer the Chief Secretary!
Justice in this society is nowhere as the judicial inductions are ever made purely on political grounds and the three members of the high courts are former members of the GB Assembly who resigned from the membership and joined the judiciary. What to talk of Supreme Appellate Court where contractual appointments are made after three years and to ones astonishment the benches were empty for six month before the inductions of present lot of judges who are about to go homes as their tenure of three year is nearing to expire.
According to 1998 census the population of the area is about .9 million and there are only three district headquarters for their health care and none out of these three in a position to extend complete medical facilities.
Lacking equipments of the health sciences the hospitals faces acute shortage of consultants and specialists and those who could afford treatment in hospitals of down country manage to undergo treatment and the majority population being poor is at the mercy of doctors who are not qualified to treat them but keep on experiencing at the cost of their lives.
The equipments which are available in the three DHQ hospitals are outdated and are out of order and setting up private clinics and laboratories is a thriving business.
The environment experiencing abnormality and the effects of global warming is so obvious that any ordinary man can point out the change in environment.
Apart from other reasons the illicit cutting of forest by the mafias under the patronage of forest department officials destroyed the forests and a lot of area is now without a single tree which earlier were entirely covered with forests like Babusar pass.
Jobs are sold and merit is bulldozed but the cry of majority of the poor population goes unheard in wilderness.
This is the place where I do live.

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