[Interview] Interview with Nazir Sabir
September 27, 2009 5 Comments
Nazir Sabir the history maker as mountaineer as well as a politician of Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan has kindly given an interview where you will find his views on multiple areas. He honestly in his usual way expressed his thoughts regarding the current reforms package for Gilgit-Baltistan, the issue of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, upcoming elections in Hunza and the controversy surrounding the additional seat for Hunza.
GBTimes: What are your views regarding the recent reforms package announced by the Govt. of PPP for Gilgit-Baltistan?
Nazir Sabir: I appreciate the brave steps taken by the government of PPP to introduce the recent empowerment and self-rule ordinance 2009 for Gilgit-Baltistan. It is the dawn of a new history for our region. The main feature of it is to recognize the separate identity of the Gilgit-Baltistan, which would help us in asserting our rights for political, economic and social change.
GBTimes: How do you relate this package with the PPP government, in fact it was introduce by President Pervez Musharaf? And the general opinion is that it is much short of what President Musharaf’s government had thought to do?
Nazir Sabir: Muhtarima Shahid Benazir Bhuttu was having great interest with the people and area of Gilgit-Baltistan, she was determined to resolve the problems faced by the people. If, she was alive the package could have been very much different than it is promulgated by the current government.
The major problem with this package is that the people of the area and their representatives have not been consulted except some of the former bureaucrats have been involved on the fringes of it. With the involvement of the people and representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan the government could have made the package much better.
GBTimes: In a way you consider the package do not sufficiently addresses the demands of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan regarding ensuring their democratic and fundamental human rights?
Nazir Sabir: Well, having said that, I think the package is a first step towards an independent provincial set-up. We have been suffering from the name of Kashmir being forcefully and illegitimately attached to us. Kashmiries on the both side on Indian as well as on Pakistani part are enjoying democratic rights of self-governance and economic benefits, whereas the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who have nothing to do with Kashmir have made sacrificial entity and denied the basic human rights by the successive governments in Islamabad.
GBTimes: Nazir Sahib, do you mean the Kashmir issue has complicated the matter of Gilgit-Baltistan and is the cause of suffering for the people of Giglit-Baltistan?
Nazir Sabir: I think you are right, history tells us that the brave people of Gilgit-Baltistan have raised their voices and acquired their independence from Dogra Raj with self-help in 1947. In contrast Kashmiries were not even bothered regarding their own liberation until 1989. They were people of Gilgit-Baltistan who fought in the fields of Srinagar against India during 1964-65 under the leadership of Major Murtaza but Kashmiries themselves including Kashmiri women were spying for Indian army by cheating the warriors of freedom from Gilgit-Baltistan who wanted to help Kshmiries. However, due to the covert acts and noncooperation rather anti freedom struggle of the Kashmiries had joined the hands with Indian army as a result most of the freedom warriors in Kashmir from Gilgit-Baltistan and majority of it from Hunza were killed in the fields of Srinagar by Indian army.
It is only after 1989 that with the help of Pakistan freedom movement in Kashmir have ignited otherwise Kashmiries themselves have taken none or only a bit of initiatives for their own freedom. The world knows about the many groups inspired by Jihad to be active during all this time in Kashmir and most of them belongs to other parts of Pakistan than indigenous Kashmiries. This is the reason that due to recent reconciliation and confidence building measure between India and Pakistan the intensity of Kashmir freedom struggle has dropped dramatically as Pakistan has drawn herself from the proxy war in Kashmir. Now tell me where are those Kashmiries and why they do not keep their own freedom struggle alive as it was during last two decades, if it was a genuinely their own initiative and struggle for freedom?
I suggest to the so called Kashmiri leaders of both side to concentrate on liberating their own parts of Kashmiri before talking foolishly high regarding issue of Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is none of their concern and they need to do a lot of things in their own backyard of Kashmir.
GBTimes: your views suggest that Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) has nothing to do with Kashmir, rather GB has been dragged and illegitimately linked with Jammu & Kashmir (JK)?
Nazir Sabir: Absolutely!!! We have never been part of JK, other than British being the rulers of the Subcontinent, for political management they had setup a colonial system their under Maha Raja of JK, but it does not mean GB was part of JK. Particularly Hunza and Nagar have never been part of even the political management of British colonial system rather they remained under direct British authority as two last princely states fallen to mighty British Raj, and after British raj till 1974 Hunza was an independent state.
As far as supporting Pakistan in Kashmiri cause is concern, people of Gilgit-Baltistan have given in the Golden Plate the vote in shape of their willingness to be affiliated with Pakistan in 1974, which they could have used as vote for plebiscite and integrated the area completely with Pakistan, immediately. However, Pakistan had misjudged the situation as a result now both Pakistan and people of Gilgit-Baltistan are suffering the mistakes of Pakistani authorities.
In 1997 I have asked Gohar Ayoub who was then the chief executive of Gilgit-Baltistan to go for plebiscite under UN in GB and AJK even now, before it is too late but they have not paid necessary attention in this regard.
In the nutshell, GB is not at all part of JK but to free people of Jammu & Kashmir (JK) our ancestors have played a great role but due to unwillingness and idleness of Kashmiries the objective could not be achieved until now. If the desire for freedom is not in the hearts of the Kashmiries what could have been done by foreign forces, they could only have done enough as in the case of Kahssadars of tribal areas of Pakistan to free the part of Kashmir which is currently under the control of Pakistan. And I suggest people like Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan who is a traitor and plays for self interest to concentrate on JK and if have guts achieve freedom there, their nefarious voices regarding Gilgit-Baltistan are in vain.
Yes, regarding any matter related to JK people of Gilgit-Baltistan must be taken into confidence and involved in the process.
GBTimes: Now, we move to another important matter, which is related to Hunza, your constituencies from where you have once been elected as a member of Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan (LAGB) and made history by defeating Mr. Ghazanfar Ali Kahn, first time ever in the 900 years old rule of ‘Ayashkuch’.
Nazir Sabir: O sure please!
GBTimes: The All Hunza Action Committee (AHAC) comprised of all political parties and social organizations have announced to boycott the upcoming November 2009 elections, if Hunza is not been given an additional seat. What are your views in this regard as you belong to the PPP the party which is currently holds government in Islamabad?
Nazir Sabir: It is unfortunate that Hunza has been deprived of its long standing legitimate and deserving right of the additional seat in the GBLA. I fully support and have worked on my own end to the best possible level to make provision for an additional seat for Hunza, but it did not materialize. In fact, in other areas of Gilgit-Baltistan a seat in the GBLA has been given to areas who’s populations is less than 13000, if we make 13000 population as the benchmark for a seat in GBLA, Hunza should be given 5 seats because Hunza’s population is more than 60,000.
GBTimes: Does it mean that you are supporting boycott and civil disobedience in case Hunza has not been given an additional seat in the upcoming election?
Nazir Sabir: The initial draft of the package for Gilgit-Baltistan had included 6 additional seats each for Ghizer, Gilgit, Diamer, Shigar and Hunza, which was shared with me by Syed Jafar Shah. However, the announced package is void of all these seats; as far as my information is concerned I came to know that Nawaz Sharif and Moulan Fazlul Rahman have blocked this from happening on the pretext of sectarian power imbalances in the assembly.
GBTimes: Do you support the boycott and civil disobedience of the elections in Hunza if the additional seat is not been ensured in GBLA?
Nazir Sabir: This would be an extreme case, I myself had given a statement regarding the boycott of the election but it is more of pressurizing the government to consider the legitimate and deserving right of the people of Hunza for the additional seat.
GBTimes: Do you indented to participate in the upcoming elections?
Nazir Sabir: No. Once the people of Hunza had kindly given me the opportunity to serve them, however, due to the unavoidable circumstances in the area and particularly in the case of Ali Abad Masjid, all my time consumed in settling the issue and had not been able to concentrate other areas of socio-economic development which I had thought initially. At the same time I had an unfavourable government in Islamabad for half of the time in shape of Major (Ret.) Majeed Malik, who is Matric fail, and was the chief executive of Gilgit-Baltistan hindered all development initiatives. Now I consider myself as a fired bullet, so people of Hunza should try someone else.
GBTimes: Could you briefly state the major achievements of your tenure as an advisor for education and member of legislative assembly?
Nazir Sabir: Than the major issue was communal and sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan, personally my first priority was to ensure harmony, safety and security of all the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and have been successful in it. During my tenure not even a single bullet was fired.
Rest, I worked hard to improve quality of education in the area although I faced much resistance at the hands of a very powerful and corrupt bureaucrat such as at the time Secretary of Education Mehr Dad.
GBTimes: Thank you so much for your valued time that you spared for Gilgit-Baltistan Times. We wish you good luck in your future endeavours.
Nazir Sabir: Smiling!!! My pleasure and thank you too and same way I wish Gilgit-Baltistan Times to be successful in its noble cause of creating social, educational and political awareness in Gilgit-Baltistan.