[Opinion] Elections in Hunza 2009: Politics of AHAC right or wrong?
October 15, 2009 6 Comments
By Abbas Ali
I could not stop myself from contributing to this excellent debate regarding ‘political activism in Hunza’. In response to my previous right up I found two different opinions on the role of AHAC one represented by Mr. Sher Baz Ramal, Hisam Sahib and Hunzutuz and the other by Sher Khan, Mujeeb, Adil et.al. Respectively against and in support of activities of AHAC. Here we need to judge the situation carefully. First of all we have to accept that the movement launched by All Hunza Action Committee (AHAC) which has motivated the people of Hunza for the very first time from Sost to Karachi, since early 1970s when people of Hunza were very active for the demise of Mirdom (An oppressive feudal system). It is to be remembered that people of Hunza who were active for the demise of Mirdom in Hunza were not against the existence of independent state of Hunza as a democratic country. The people were against the one-man rule which of course was supported by some other elements for their own selfish benefits and these people too were some selected individuals belonging to a few selected families and remained in power from generation to generation. However, the protests and disobedience of people of Hunza to than Mir Jamal Khan has weakened his position and challenged his inherited long held power along with the power of those on whom Mir was willingly or unwillingly relying for political support; but the ongoing protest was unable to unlogged Mir out of power and would have taken much longer to do so, if Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttuh has not compelled Mir Jamal Khan along with the Mir of Nagar and rest in the country to end the existence of states within state. I don’t mean if Pakistan has been succesfull in its mission as today even we find states within the state of Pakistan.
For the time being leaving this debate aside, if we look the way AHAC took to the people the issue of an additional seat for Hunza, what it could have been other than the way they did? At the same time what authority did the held to represent the views on behalf of the people of Hunza? I think these are two main questions we need to pounder on.
For the first question looking at the situation which has ignited people of Hunza to come to street for the demand of their long held legitimate right of an additional seat in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) , which is going on since 1994 but people of Hunza been kept deprived till today, was rooted in the recently announced ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and self-rule ordinance 2009’ (Empowerment and self-rule is just in words not in practice) which was expected to announce an additional seat for Hunza along with other four for Ghizer, Diamer, Gilgit, and Shigar but it remained silent. Immediately following the announcement of the package was the announcement for the elections of GBLA, so it has left AHAC with little time and under pressure to assert their demand on authorities in Islamabad. It is needed to be appreciated that people of Hunza as civilized and educated people have utilized their democratic right of protest peacefully and in a well organized manner, which seldom happens in the mainstream Pakistani politics, where even Supreme Court is not safe from the protesting mobs.
The question of closing the government offices and civil disobedience were of course the extreme steps if have been taken, but if one tells in advance in a protest things like this are pressurizing tactics. However, the authorities in power could not ignore these statements because after evaluating the support and legitimacy of such an action through their intelligence mechanism it becomes imperative for state to adopt a counter strategy if the kind of statements hurled by AHAC has mass support as it has indeed. I do not say if the counter strategies of the government are legitimate or will be successful because it is much dependent upon the commitment of the people and modus operandi adopted by the leader but the government has to keep on trying to dilute it. The governments often quell these kind of issue through creating fraction among the unity or using those looking for other agendas, as in the case of Hunza it happened that Ms. Atiqa Ghazanfar PML (N) and Mr. Wazir Baig of PPP the two members of mainstream political parties announced their disengagement from the boycott of elections, although boycotting the elections was a far-less sensitive issue than civil disobedience and closing down of government offices which has in fact severally harmed the collective struggle of AHAC for the additional seat for Hunza. However, the success would go on the side of AHAC were Mr. Kaira the acting Governor (viceroy) of Gilgit-Baltistan agreed to give two seats in the council one reserved for women and the other for technocrats, if leaders of AHAC remained silent or parted with power in Islamabad for selfish benefits as other did it could never have happen. The promise of Kaira regarding these additional seats yet to be materialized and it is not known it would be or not because the promises made by them are not the ‘words of holy Quran’.
The second issue is who have bestowed the authority to represent the people of Hunza to the leaders of the AHAC. Well we know the lessons of democracy either through formal studies or through observation that each and everybody as a citizen has the right to expresses his opinion and views the way one deems appropriate without getting involved in violence. No one would deny that those thousands of people who participated in the protests have in fact supported the views and idea of the ones who took the lead and it has mobilized people from Sost to Karachi. In democracy against the norms of dictatorship or Feudalism people on the streets, shops, homes, fields, industries etc. Give the authority not by a single institution or individual either formed or sitting in places, in democracy support of the people let to form institutions and these institution and leaders remain their representatives as long as the people want them and support them. In case of the leaders of AHAC those thousands of Hunzukutz who have supported them have given the authority to fight for the demand of an additional seat, although some other sections would not had support them.
Scrutinizing the people who are in run for elections in Hunza obviously most of them are either previous supporters of Mr. Ghazanfar or his team members to whom Hisam Shabib has rightly said are trying to hide their faces from the people of Hunza and trying to find corners. Look if those who only supported Ghazanfar or remained part of Ghazanfar’s team in the past are today so ashamed for their past deeds that they could not find a corner to hide, what should have been the nature of Ghazanfar and his political advisor Ms. Atiqa,and Son Saleem terrible isn’t it? Those who still posses shame are trying to either hide or wash themselves and ask forbiddances but Ghazanfar and his family has become so accustom to tyranny, fraud, embezzlement and cheating on the welfare and development of Hunza, filling their own filthy pockets with the looted money and rights of poor mothers and fathers who either saved hard earn money for education, health and progress of their love children are still bare face and courage to ask the support of Hunzutuz to elected their another Son.
Rest of the candidates Kamil Jan, Noor Muhammad, Zafar Iqabal (if he has been allowed), Baba Jan, Afsar etc. could have not been said to be as clean as a white clean paper but yes lot better than Ghanzanfar and Attiqa and their spawn Sheryar, whom they have brought forth after been able to contest the elections as neither Ghazanfar or Atiqa or their elder Son Saleem were unable to contest elections on one or other charges of being defaulters or pending cases in the courts.
The democracy plays its role by motivating people to use their minds and heart freely to choose a leader formally through elections. The government and its agencies should refrain from intriguing secretly in the affairs of democratic process of elections other than facilitating it. People of Gilgit-Baltistan and Hunza for sure would choose leaders who would best serve them for which definitely they would keep in mind the past of candidates for their social and political track records, potential for representing them, and ability for bring positive change through attracting resources and safe guarding the rights of the people rather than power brokers.
Writer is a contributor to the Daily Dawn, and a Karachi based consultant for social development programmes. firstname.lastname@example.org