LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has criticised the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Order 2018, saying it falls considerably short of the GB people’s expectation of being treated as full citizens of Pakistan.

In a statement on Thursday, the HRCP said: “In claiming to grant the people of GB their fundamental freedoms, the GB Order has clipped their right to freedom of association and expression. It has denied any Gilgit-Baltistani the right to become a chief judge of the Supreme Appellate Court or to have any say in internal security. Above all, it has disregarded people’s needs despite continual public pressure in GB to address their problems fairly and in accordance with local aspirations. The continuing imprisonment of Baba Jan and his comrades for having stood up for their fundamental rights is a sore case in point. There is nothing in the GB Order to protect others like Baba Jan in the future”

The HRCP added the people of Gilgit-Baltistan deserved nothing less than enjoying the same rights as other citizens of Pakistan. Under the country’s constitution, the GB people’s ‘loyalty’ was to the state, not to the GB Order itself or, by extension, to the head of government, it said.

The commission said the order giving the prime minister extraordinary powers with respect to the governance of GB would not help in its being recognised as a province.

The HRCP demands that the people of GB must be treated on a par with the citizens of other provinces for any such reforms to be meaningful.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2018