Resentment in Gilgit-Baltistan

WASHINGTON, June 2: After Balochistan, resentment is brewing up in Gilgit-Baltistan with the local representatives there calling on the US to support the right of self- determination of the people of the disputed region, saying that they are being oppressed by the Pakistan Government.
A three-member delegation of US embassy in Islamabad, including Lisa Buzenos, Political/Economic Officer and Kimberly Phelan, Political Officer, met chairperson of Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM), Manzoor Hussain Parwana in Gilgit on May 31, reports reaching here said.
Parwana called denial of the right of self-determination and degradation of local national and cultural identity as two main issues for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, saying that with abundance of natural resources and enviable geo-strategic location the region fulfils the criteria to sustain as an independent country.
“We expect brotherly relations with our neighbours namely India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, China and Afghanistan but do not expect them to treat us like a colony. The international community including our neighbors should respect our will to exist as an independent nation.
“We intend to use our land and resources for the well-being of our people but would refuse to let our neighbours exploit us to enhance their strategic depth or use our poor people as cannon fodder,” Parwana said in a statement that was distributed here yesterday.
In his meeting with US officials, Parwana, who was accompanied by a delegation of representatives from Gilgit and Baltistan, said that representatives of Pakistani secret service agencies, military and political parties interfered in the internal affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Parwana requested the international community to give equal treatment and attention to both Gilgit-Baltistan, or else the natives of the region will continue to live an impoverished life with complete denial of freedom of expression, press and political activity. (PTI)