GILGIT BALTISTAN: The people of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) are celebrating their 73rd Independence Day today (Sunday) amid dejection that their repeated calls for being granted the constitutional status have not been heeded by the successive governments in Islamabad.
The regional government has declared an official holiday on the occasion, where rallies and functions highlighting the importance of the day would be organized.
The flag hoisting ceremony was held at Yadgar-i-Shuhada in Chinarbagh Gilgit. Governor Gilgit-Baltistan, caretaker chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Commander FCNA along with war veterans and civil and military officials attended the ceremony.
The officials laid floral wreath at Yadgar-i-Shuhada and offered Fateha for the martyrs. A contingent of police presented a guard of honor on the occasion.
Addressing the Azadi Parade ceremony the CM said the armed forces of Pakistan rendered lives for the security of the country. He also paid tribute to martyrs of Gilgit Baltistan who sacrificed their lives for independence.
Meanwhile, the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon in his remarks said Independence Day of Gilgit-Baltistan reminds us of the sacrifices of our martyrs. He said that the incumbent federal government is making serious efforts to bring this region into the mainstream.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan had won liberation from Dogra rule in 1947 with help of Gilgit Scouts and annexed themselves with Pakistan unconditionally.
More than seven decades had passed after the liberation but the people of the region were yet to be accepted as equal citizens of the country.
After the unconditional accession of the region to Pakistan, instead of devising proper governance and administrative structure, the Government of Pakistan imposed the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) in the area.
FCR, a colonial law, deprived people of their basic rights and gave the Political Agent — a civil servant — supreme authority, with executive, legislative and judicial powers. Furthermore, despite Pakistan’s annexation of Gilgit and later Baltistan, the despotic rajgiri (principality) and jagirdari (feudal) system was not abolished.
The exploitative practices of taxation and beggar (forced labour without pay) by the rajas and mirs continued. Various governments in Pakistan have tried in the past to regulate the issues of GB through reforms and executive orders.
Recently, the region has come under the spotlight again when the federal government announced plans to give GB provincial status.
It seemed GB was finally on the path of integration with Pakistan. However, the important question remains whether the Government of Pakistan can take this bold step and, instead of another executive order, bring GB into the ambit of Pakistan’s constitution.