THE brave people of Gilgit-Baltistan on Nov 1, 1947, got independence from the Dogra Raj. I would like to felicitate Gilgit-Baltistan people on the happy occasion we recently celebrated.

The brave Scouts of these regions gave sacrifices to gain an independent region. We all pay tribute to our heroes on this great moment of victory.

Raja Shah Rais Khan became the president, while Mirza Hassan Khan the commander-in-chief of the Gilgit Scouts.

After independence, the region was run under local government for 16 days, but later unconditionally it was affiliated with the newly-established state of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, we are still in the state of slavery in the name of being a ‘disputed area’. The Pakistan government declared it as a disputed area like Kashmir. Since 1947 till now we are still deprived of basic human rights like infrastructure, health, education, etc.

The government is not ready to accept it as an independent region. The remarks of Pakistani politicians about Gilgit-Baltistan are disappointing and disheartening.

There is no representative of Gilgit-Baltistan in the National Assembly and senate. Although 67 years have passed, the Gilgit-Baltistan issue remains unresolved.

On August 29, 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Goverance Ordinance was passed by the PPP government. At that time many packages were announced for Gilgit-Baltistan’s development. However, nothing was implemented.

This is a cruel joke with the innocent people of this region that constitutionally it is not a province. It was just an ordinance that is why there is no province-like set up. According to the Constitution, there are only four provinces.

This is injustice to the region and its patriotic people. The people of these areas are fighting every battle along with other Pakistanis and have given many sacrifices for the homeland. We will give more if Pakistan needs, although Gilgit-Baltistan is waiting to be given its due status.

Altaf Hussain

Gilgit-Baltistan

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2015

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