ISLAMABAD: A large number of people belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) staged a protest rally from the National Press Club to D-Chowk, seeking provincial status for GB.
The rally was also attended by representatives from political parties, students’ organisations and residents of the region living in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The participants held placards and national flags, chanting slogans like “Make GB province of Pakistan, GB Banega Pakistan, Pakistan Zindabad, etc”.
The rally was addressed by a number of political leaders like Dr Mohammad Iqbal of Gilgit-Baltistan PTI, Imtiaz Gilgiti of Diamer Youth Forum, Mohammad Iqbal Ganche, and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Vice President Haji Qurban Ali and other representatives from students’ organisations and civil society activists.
The gathering was also attended by a large number of people who came from GB.
Representing the caravan from Gilgit, former GB minister Dr Iqbal said the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had arrived in Islamabad with the hope that their long-standing demand would be taken seriously and the provision of constitutional rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would be ensured immediately.
Mohammad Iqbal Ganche, another political leader from Baltistan region, while addressing the gathering, rejected the impression that making Gilgit-Baltistan an interim constitutional province of Pakistan would have a negative impact on the Kashmir issue at the international level.
Granting constitutional rights to GB would not affect UN resolutions on Kashmir because whenever there is a referendum in Kashmir, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will also be a part of it.
“Therefore, we expect our brothers in Azad Kashmir to be a part of this cause and join us in overcoming our 73 years of deprivation,” he said.
“The representation to GB in the National Assembly and Senate, as proposed by the previous government of PML-N, would reduce the sense of deprivation among the people of GB,” Haji Qurban Ali said, adding that people of the area would continue their support to Kashmiri people.
He also said the Supreme Court (SC), in it’s a landmark decision regarding reform in GB, also made it clear that granting provisional provincial status to GB would not affect the cause of Kashmir.
Imtiaz Gilgiti said the federal government should not wait for the election in GB for the announcement of the provincial status as there was a complete consensus among political parties in GB regarding their demand for constitutional rights.
Unanimous resolutions of GB Assembly and joint statements of All Parties Conferences held in GB were enough to show the aspiration of people of GB, he added.
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2020