What we have done to Gilgit-Baltistan? – by Nazir Naji

by admin

Very large rally in Gilgit against army-sponsored Shia genocide in Pakistan

Our real ‘jugular’

What we have done to Gilgit-Baltistan

Like today’s politicians and strategic experts do not know how Balochistan came to be a part of Pakistan, they similarly do not know how Gilgit-Baltistan came to be apart of Pakistan. For the sake of recall, Gilgit-Baltistan used to be a part of the Kashmir state that the people freed from Dogra raj. Post-independence, the people of GB voluntarily decided to join the federation of Pakistan and wanted to be given the status of a federating units like the others. But the then rulers of Pakistan, pleading on the basis of the lack of an administrative infrastructure, stated that they would have to be part of the Pakistan federation for the time being without being declared a separate province. They would be given that due status once the requisite administrative infrastructure was in place. Given our national predilection for amnesia, no one remembered this pledge even though the people of GB constantly kept reminding governments and repeatedly asked for recognition of their identity. In 1963, an important part of GB was given under the control of China without asking from the people. Given their allegiance to and love for Pakistan, the local populace accepted this unjust decision. Finally, the incumbent government came through on the historical promise of giving them provincial status.

It is pertinent to mention here that it is the people of GB, after the people of East Pakistan, who fought their war of independence themselves, got their freedom and joined Pakistan of their own volition. Of Pakistan’s current territory, there was widespread disagreement in the then province of NWFP. The Red Shirts movement boycotted the referendum and because of that boycott, the province became a part of Pakistan after the referendum. The Sindh Assembly had passed a resolution in favour of Pakistan but there was no noteworthy expression of desire from the people there. The province became a part of Pakistan according to the plan of partition. The resolution that had been passed in 1938, in fact was passed in the assembly of the province formed after separation from the Bombay presidency. During the elections for this assembly, the issue of Pakistan had never come up. The resolution was passed 1938 whereas the resolution for Pakistan was presented in 1940.

Similarly, the Pakistan movement in Punjab was also restricted to a few days. The elections that took place in Punjab before independence, the Muslim League had not gotten a majority in them. Along with Hindus and Sikh, the party of the Punjabi feudals, the Unionist Party, formed a coalition government and the chief ministership was given to Khizar Hayat Tiwana. During this time, the movement for Pakistan had already gained steam. Thus, the Muslim League also protested against that government in Punjab and registered their participation in the Pakistan movement. Some Muslim Leaguers were arrested. Some feudals also had an R&R session as jailbirds. But this agitation in Punjab wasn’t even a miniscule portion of the entirety of the Pakistan movement and the sacrifices rendered for it. Punjab’s English governor hinted to all the Unionists that since the Pakistan movement was about to achieve its end, it was better for them to join the ML. And as the night fell, all the Unionist became Leaguers and West Punjab became a part of Pakistan. If Punjab had prepared it case to present to the Radcliffe Award, then Ferozepur and Gurdaspur could have become parts of Pakistan. Batala especially would never have gone to India. But the Punjabi Muslim League was barely able to fight its own case properly which is an indication of its seriousness of purpose.

However, returning to the point I was making, it was the people of East Pakistan that had rendered the most sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan and after them, the people of GB who got their territory freed from an oppressor and joined Pakistan. The decision about East Pakistan was also taken by people who had no remarkable contribution to the creation of Pakistan. And now what is being done in GB is also being done by elements who never fought for the cause of Pakistan.

What did we lose after losing East Pakistan? Those who are pushing this country deep into a quagmire in the name of Islam still have no idea about how grave that loss was. The leadership of East Pakistan would never have let Pakistan be embroiled in the Afghan war. The Kashmir problem would possibly have been solved. Just like India, Pakistan would be on the road to rapid development. We would be standing with dignity in the comity of nations. Our society would have been free from the scourge of violence. No OBL would have been ensconced safely in our quarters and no Hafiz Saeed would have had the gall to support foreign terrorists. We have seen all this because we let East Pakistan go. And what is happening in GB now, if I allude even perfunctorily to it, it would scare the daylights out of most.

Consider: What is the geographical location of GB? On the one hand, it joins with KP and on the other with Azad Kashmir. The Karakoram Highway passes through it and that is where our and China’s territories meet. North to that is Wakhan strip which is a part of Afghanistan. But this is the area which directly joins Pakistan to the landmass of Central Asia. China is conducting many great developmental worksin GB. China is going to build a big water reservoir in this area, 80 percent of the expenditure for which China will bear itself. This Chinese reservoir will act like a lifeline for our Daimer-Basha dam. If this reservoir is not built, the Daimer-Basha dam will be but a pipedream. You must also know that the fountainhead of our aquatic lifeline i.e. the River Indus is also situated in GB.

I wrote in my previous column that if any flight from Indian territory to Afghanistan were to take fifteen minutes, it would be from this area. You fly from Occupied Kashmir to GB from where you fly to Wakhan in a matter of minutes. Now look at our relations with India and the US. Look at their capabilities and look at our own and you will clearly know what I am worried about. If we lose control over GB, the one that we never actually established, what would be the consequences for that?

Eighty percent of GB’s people belong to the Fiqh Ja’afria. They are a peaceful people. During Zia-ul-Haq’s reign, the Sipah-e-Sahaba started terrorist activities in the region which have now gained a lot of momentum. Gilgit has been in a curfew for the last three days. Corpses litter the roads and no one dare pick them up. Sectarian hatred is fermenting in South Punjab and our tribal areas and reaching that region. Kashmir is the ‘jugular vein’ without which we have been living for 64 years. But if some enemy gets hold of our jugular vein of GB, we will definitely not have 64 years…


8 Responses to “What we have done to Gilgit-Baltistan? – by Nazir Naji”

  1. The ongoing conflict in Gilgit-Baltistan is the sequel of the February incident when a terrorist group stopped buses and vans on the KKH, verified the identity of the passengers before killing 16 members of the Shia community. Over the last few weeks, tensions continued to mount in the region leading to the tragic events of Tuesday when nine innocent persons were killed near Chilas by a mob and another five died in Gilgit city. Unless the government acts firmly, more innocent people across the sectarian divide are likely to be targeted. The region has to be completely peaceful to serve as a major trade route in days to come. http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/04/04/comment/editorials/a-destabilising-conflict/

  2. GILGIT-Baltistan plunged once again into violence on Tuesday. A number of people were killed and injured when a grenade was reportedly lobbed at an Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (formerly Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan) rally in Gilgit. Supporters of the ‘banned’ party were demanding the release of a detained leader. Though curfew was imposed rivals continued to trade fire, while there were reports of the violence spreading to Chilas. Tension had been simmering in the region for the past few days, as sectarian clashes had occurred on Sunday. It seems that Tuesday’s attack was only a trigger and considering the region’s troubled history the situation has the potential to deteriorate much further.

    The underdeveloped area, otherwise known for its stunning natural beauty and towering peaks, is rarely discussed on the national stage. Communal tensions first emerged in Gilgit-Baltistan during the 1970s, when the princely states were abolished and amalgamated into the Northern Areas. This process, along with the opening of the Karakoram Highway in the mid-1980s, initiated demographic changes as the inhabitants’ traditional way of life began to disappear and ‘settlers’ from other parts of Pakistan started arriving in the area. However, the sectarian conflict in this Shia- and Ismaili-majority region did not reach its current, bloody proportions until the late 1980s when — under Gen Zia’s watch — sectarian and jihadi elements were introduced into the area. Communal relations have nosedived since, with periods of uneasy calm sandwiched between regular cycles of deadly violence similar to what we are seeing now.

    Though the region has enjoyed a degree of autonomy since 2009, the local administration has failed to establish order, while Islamabad — specifically the security establishment — has let the lava of communal tension flow freely. This is a matter of grave concern, especially considering that Gilgit-Baltistan is located in a strategically sensitive area. As elsewhere in the country, the state bears primary responsibility for keeping the peace and ensuring troublemakers don’t fan the flames of sectarian hatred, especially after the recent Kohistan bus attack in which a number of Gilgiti Shias were killed. The area’s religious leaders must promote tolerance. Yet if the state does not clamp down on violence, radicals from the Shia and Sunni communities will be calling the shots, rendering the clerics irrelevant. That would be a disturbing development and its fallout could inflame communal sentiments elsewhere in the country. The state needs to pay due attention to Gilgit-Baltistan, specifically its law and order situation, and heal the region’s wounds, which have been festering for decades. This is essential for maintaining communal harmony not only in the area, but throughout Pakistan.


  3. nice Report !
    their is nt sectarian killing in pakistan bt only sme terorist organization like sipha sahaba yazedi nd laskar e jhangnavi who belong to muaviya lantee house wana killing SHIAT muslims in pakistan !!
    shia sunni bhai bhai sipha sahaba ny agg lagai !

  4. Kamran Shafi writes in Express Tribune:

    And now for a matter so painful to one who has travelled to Gilgit-Baltistan since 1972 when my late brother Momin, my cousin Farooq Hyat and I, trekked from just past Muzaffarabad to Kel along the Neelum River, and across the Shontur Pass into Gilgit Agency where we stayed at Rattu and Astor and Gilgit with the great Northern Scouts. Momin died in a mountaineering accident on Mount Paiju in Baltistan, and so I went to Skardu for the first time in 1974 to visit his grave near the airport.
    Many are the times that I have gone to the area since, and it pains me to report that from the killings orchestrated during dictator Ziaul Haq’s time when the Shia village of Jalalabad, just outside Gilgit on the main road, was set upon by Sunni zealots. This is what I wrote about Gilgit on April 20, 2006, almost exactly five years ago, in the Daily Times: “Such was the level of readiness all across the city, with armed and helmeted patrols everywhere, that it made me feel I was somewhere else, not Gilgit where I had spent much gentle time, many a wonderful evening with gentlemen like Group Captain Shah Khan and the late and very dapper Hussain Wali Khan; and had pleasant lunches (always lunches!) with the late Mir Sahib of Nagar.
    “What had happened to my Gilgit, I asked myself? And then it all came back. Nothing had happened to Gilgit, the tyrant Zia had happened to Pakistan! I recalled the deep religious and sectarian and tribal schisms engineered by Zia and his henchmen to divide the populace of Pakistan so that he could rule the country easier. Gilgit was not to be spared: I recalled too, the 1982 massacre of innocent Shias at the hands of imported and uncouth and cruel tribesmen, who machine-gunned the village of Jalalabad in 1988 to destruction: men, women, children, cattle, and all. It was said then that the slaughter in which upwards of 500 human beings lost their lives…. (I am a Sunni, incidentally, if it makes any difference.)”
    And so on and on we go, digging our own graves; trying to box above our weight; and killing those who do not agree with us. In Twitterese #FAIL.
    Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2012.



    I was wholly unaware of the massacre of shias that took place in what I used to think of as a relatively tranquil region. It is just another chapter in our history which we like to pretend never happened. I found this book excerpt which provides some background information of the hostilities. Skip to page 402 (pg.15 of the document) for the relevant part.


  5. is main shia hazrat key apni ghalti hai. Jab tak yeh Sahaba (R.A) key ghustakhi say baaz nahi aen gay, in kay sath aisa hota rahay ga. Shia hazrat is main apnay Zakiro aur Ullama ko is ka qasoor waar tehrain.

  6. @ Muhammad AbdulRehman: Amazing how you can justify the genocide of innocent Muslims in the name of same old rhetoric i.e. the companions. The Shia Muslims have always made efforts to create unity between the Sunni and the Shia Muslims. They not only respect the true companions of the holy prophet but also condemn desecration of the holy personalities of any religion. If some ignorant people do say such things, one cannot blame the whole Shia community for that. Moreover, desecrating the companions does not make one guilty of a sin as big as only the killing is its punishment. The companions were not infallible and believing in the companions is not part of a Muslim belief. Nevertheless, one must respect the true companions of the holy prophet and must not desecrate holy personalities of any religion. But your stance is completely wrong and dangerous. It only justifies the Shia genocide, regrettably so.


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