Gilgit-Baltistan debate in London shows resentment among local leaders

April 8th, 2010 - 9:36 pm ICT by ANI  

By Cynthia Chandran

London, April 8 (ANI): A debate on Gilgit-Baltistan, Chaired by the Baroness of Winterburne, Emma Nicholson, in a Committee room of the British House of Lords, on Wednesday reflected resentment of the local leaders over the way Pakistan is dealing with them.

Various leaders of the Kashmiri nationalist parties participated in the debate and lamented the unjust electoral procedures adopted in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“For the last 63 years, no single person has given any statement that we are happy with what Pakistan is doing with us, no. Even Jamat-e- Islami did not agree with what Pakistan is doing there, Jamaat- ula -Islami, any party. That is the situation of our area, that people don’t have any representation. What are the elections, you see, the elections are fraud. Those who were pro-Pakistan, who are in Pakistani parties, they participated in the elections and they were allowed to win. And those nationalist, including our alliance of seven parties, we were not allowed to participate in the elections,” said Abdul Hamid Khan, the Chairman of the Balawaristan National Front, who has been in exile in Brussels.

They said that local people were not allowed to contest in the elections, which is one of their major concerns.

“The elections should be held in fairer position. The local people should be given the right to participate rather sending the candidates from Pakistan. Because, in one way, you are saying that this is not our Pakistan area, we are just looking after it, we are just facilitating the people. And, on the other hand, you are fielding your candidates there. So it is totally unfair and it can raise many questions, not only by Gilgit-Baltistan people but also at the international level,” said Mohammed Sarwar, Chief Editor of The Nation.

The Kashmiri leaders said that Gilgit -Baltistan was given a step-motherly treatment by Pakistan, and also the basic rights of the people had been suppressed.

“I am not saying that people should not be given powers. We are saying that people should be given proper powers. The least we can accept [at least] is some kind of status like AJK, until the whole situation is resolved. This appointing of a Governor from Islamabad is not acceptable,” said Dr Shabir Chaudhary, spokesperson of the Kashmir National Party.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, on this occasion, expressed concern over denial of the Fundamental Rights in Gilgit-Baltistan, and the poor health condition of people.

“What do people want? Everybody absolutely everywhere, they have, to survive, access to basic health care. They have to have private health, public health. They have to have food, they have to have shelter, they have to have some education. The people of Gilgit -Baltistan have been deprived of everything I just stated. And this is the fundamental, beyond fundamental, that is the absolute Right to Life,” said Emma Nicholson, Baroness of Winterburne.

Baroness Emma Nicholson has been conducting a series of debates to raise the issue of Human Rights violations in Gilgit- Baltistan. She became the member of European Parliament in 1999. In 2007, her report on Kashmir was passed by the European Parliament by a majority of 522 to 9.

Abbas Butt, Chairman of Kashmir National Party, and Mahmood Kashmiri, President of National Liberation Front, also participated in the debate. (ANI)

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