JAMMU, Apr 22: Accusing the Pak establishment of making deliberate attempts to change demography of Gilgit-Baltistan, noted rights activist and Director of the Washington-based Gilgit Baltistan Institute, Senge Hasnan Sering today alleged that the authorities were settling a large number of Pakistanis in Gilgit city to reduce the natives into minority and thus easily stifle their voice for democratic rights.
“The Pakistani establishment has brazenly indulged in persecuting natives of Gilgit-Baltistan on one pretext or the other and through militarization, attempt are being made to change the demography of the region,” he told reporters during a Meet the Press programme, organized by Press Club of Jammu, here today.
Mr Sering, who was here on his maiden visit to the State, also highlighted the concerns of security and terrorism in the region and said that radicalization and Talibanisation were posing a great challenge to Gilgit Baltistan. “Terror groups are running their training camps there while attempts are being made by Pakistan Army to divide the people on religious lines with a sole objective to weaken locals politically,” he said.
While highlighting the plights of natives in Gilgit Baltistan, the right activists said that people in the region were virtually living in a colonial era where they were being subjected to massive oppression and human rights violations. “We don’t have the right to elect our own representatives in Pakistan’s Parliament. We don’t have a judiciary and constitutional rights. The region is run by the executive orders of the Minister for Kashmir Affairs from Islamabad,” he explained.
Demanding an interim set up and implementation of State subject rule for running day to day affairs in the region, Mr Sering asked Pakistan to honour UN resolution and withdraw its forces from `disputed’ Gilgit-Baltistan to ensure long lasting peace there.
“Despite China’s billions of dollars’ investment in the region, locals are not getting jobs and share in the revenue that is generated in Gilgit-Baltistan but goes to Pakistan,” he said.
The academician, who was on two-day visit to the State, also batted for opening of routes between J&K and Gilgit Baltistan for reviving cultural contact between Kargil and Gilgit-Baltistan, which was a part of the erstwhile princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. He suggested that civil society in India and Pakistan need to interact to shrink the space of vested interests. “We are not living in an old age and follow the orders of the King but it is a new era and time for change has come, which is possible only with the involvement of civil societies from India and Pakistan, ” he added and maintained that people in Gilgit-Baltistan want ‘win-win’ situation for every stakeholder.