BNF demands self-rule for Gilgit-Baltistan

6 May 2008
The Dawn
Our Reporter

Rawalpindi: A nationalist organisation of Gilgit- Baltistan has demanded self-rule, dissolution of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and holding of election for a constituent assembly to draft a constitution for the region. In a statement, Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan condemned the rulers for violating human rights of the two million people of the region and treating them as their colonial subject. He also regretted that the PPP-led coalition government had not yet announced any clear policy on the status of the region. He said successive governments of PPP and PML-N had been claiming that they were not allowed to complete their tenures otherwise they could have solved the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said now the PPP and the PML-N have formed a coalition government and should not make any further excuse and resolve the issue. Mr Khan said for the last over six decades people of the region had been kept deprived of their basic rights. He stressed the need to ensure an independent judiciary in the region so that people could be provided justice. He also demanded that the Karakoram International University should be purged of corrupt elements and local languages should be included in its syllabus. He said recently federal minister Qamaruz Zaman Kaira during his visit to Gilgit had stated that the issue of giving provincial status to the region was a sensitive one. Mr Khan said he endorsed the stand of the minister because Pakistan neither can separate Gilgit-Baltistan from the issue of Kashmir nor make the region its province before resolution of the Kashmir issue. However, Islamabad can give a special provincial status and Azad Kashmir-type setup to the area without any hindrance. He appealed to the coalition government that considering the sensitivity of the region work on Diamer Dam should be stopped till the issue is resolved.