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27 February 2020

HRCP demands end to rights abuse in Gilgit Baltistan

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged that rights abuse in Gilgit-Baltistan by intelligence and other law enforcement agencies ought to be stopped. HRCP has demanded that misuse of anti-terrorist laws in Gilgit-Baltistan must end immediately.

Renowned lawyer and human rights activist, Asma Jahangir, who visited Gilgit Baltistan last year, has told BBC that youth of the region are picked or are put under watch list ,if found indulged in discussions that would otherwise be seen as  ‘I am just saying’.

HRCP reported that hundreds of young political workers and rights activists are behind bars under Anti-Terrorist Act, which was enacted in Pakistan primarily to eliminate dangerous terrorist activities.  Any voice for Rights in Gilgit-Baltistan is suppressed by law enforcement agencies, the report elaborated.

It has been demanded that powers of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the region be watched.

The report further claimed that the government of Gilgit-Baltistan has forced indigenous people of the region to give up their houses and property to Pakistan’s developmental needs, especially under the multi-billion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Maqpoon Das has been cited as the place where government has allegedly confiscated people’s houses and land.

 Asma Jahangir has impressed the importance on the government of Pakistan, of resolving the problems of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), using local democratic forums and appointing local judges.

She said GB is a small place and it should remain with the people of the region.

There is a growing sense of fear, sense of deprivation and resentment among the youth, due to the reported rights violations.

The report has suggested that Pakistan must give constitutional rights to the people of Gilgit Baltistan. The prevailing bureaucratic system must be abdicated so as to empower local pollical parties.  The government should engage the youth of the region in economic and political discussions. Women rights and representation must be prioritized.

Previously reported findings by HRCP revealed that no single group or individual was satisfied with the Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, a band-aid ordinance under which the area is administered by Pakistan. 

People of Giglit Baltistan have been given assurances that there will be at least two economic zones in Gilgit-Baltistan under the CPEC.

In the absence of a constitutional framework, the indigenous people will eventually be at the mercy of special economic zone laws, band-aid ad hoc ordinances and out-of-control Chinese corporate rules and policies. The GB legislative assembly without any constitutional authority will remain a factory where unanimous resolutions are passed, day in and day out.

The benefits of the two economic zones are mere droplets out of the fatty, 46-billion project. The local people are either distracted or are oblivion to their environmental, political and cultural destiny.  One thing is certain now – and it will remain so – that the military activity in this region will always outpace economic activities. 

Report based on HRCP Reports on Gilgit Baltistan