Autonomy for Gilgit-Baltistan - A Positive Step

analysis: A step in the right direction — Rasul Bakhsh Rais
Daily Times, September 1, 2009

Since Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, its fate became linked to which way the disputed state would go. This was implicitly the reason for the six-decades-long delay in restructuring the governance of the region

Granting a sort of autonomy, or self-rule, to the Gilgit-Baltistan region is the first critical step in the right direction. This is something that the people of the region have been demanding for a very long time.

But is the proposed structure of self-governance that is going to be implemented through a presidential ordinance enough, or do we need more in terms of autonomy from the outset of reforms than wait for further political demands? Have we, in this sense, neglected Gilgit-Baltistan?

The people of this rugged and difficult region have their own individuality and a sense of ethnic identity that has been shaped by history and geography over a long period of time. There is no doubt that this sparsely populated, vast region has diverse communities within it, but at the same time there are overlapping bonds of religion, language and social networks.

Parallel to unifying themes, there are also distinctive feelings among communities at the local level, a pattern similar to the social patchwork that we see in mountain communities.

Unlike tribal communities, the social networks that we have observed in Gilgit-Baltistan are essentially non-feudal, less hierarchical and more open to social change and development than even mainstream areas in the rest of Pakistan. One is greatly impressed by how local communities have embraced the idea of education, community organisation and development, often in competition to outdo others in achieving social and developmental objectives.

For complete article, click here

Gilgit-Baltistan - Dawn Editorial, August 31, 2009
Editorial: Rescuing the Northern Areas - DT Editorial
Northern Areas to get autonomy as Gilgit-Baltistan - The News
Measures for Gilgit-Baltistan generate suspicion - The Hindu


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