PAKISTAN is moving towards the next elections and the people of the four provinces will choose their representatives in the provincial and national assemblies for the next five years.

However, the people of Gilgit Baltistan will be just spectators rather than active participants of the elections due to the constitutional and administrative status of the area.

Historically, Gilgit Baltistan was liberated from the Dogras by the people of the area who voluntarily affiliated to Pakistan. However, connecting it with the Kashmir dispute, the habitants of the area have been waiting for their constitutional fate for the last six decades.

During this long period the people were governed through tailor - made ordinances without complete constitutional status.

It is pertinent to note that the people of Indian - controlled Kashmir have been participating in their national elections and the people of Azad Kashmir have also been enjoying a better political setup.

Nonetheless, the people of Gilgit Baltistan have been sacrificing for a long time and still waiting for their constitutional rights.

The ambiguous constitutional status has affected the areas in many ways. First, due to the lack of healthy political activities sectarian conflict has been badly affecting the area.

Second, because of the absence of representation in the National Assembly and the Senate, the area did not get due attention in terms of economic and social development.

Third, the sense of constitutional and political deprivation has been a matter of distress for the people.

Today, the people of the area, particularly the educated youths, raise critical questions about their identity and political destiny. Apprehending the feelings of the people, the legislative assembly of Gilgit Baltistan has passed a resolution, demanding a constitutional province.

To reduce the sense of deprivation of the people, it is time the area was provided full provincial status before the upcoming elections. It will allow the people of the area to take part in the coming elections along with other Pakistanis to elect their representatives to the National Assembly and the Senate.

The people of Gilgit Baltistan have sacrificed for a long time while waiting for its constitutional status. Further delays in giving the area its conditional and political right may have multiple implications.

Therefore, the time has come to reflect seriously and take concrete and immediate actions to resolve the prolonged constitutional issue of Gilgit Baltistan.

MUHAMMAD ALI Karachi


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