Open Letter – Shameless Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan

By: Tahira Jabeen

Chief Secretary sb,
You have insulted the people of Gilgit-Baltistan by taunting us with your callous, uncalled for, irrational and illogical, misinformed statement. You said that since we don’t pay taxes, we should not be demanding/expecting too much. This insensitive and cold response came, when you were informed that women are dying due to absence of gynecologist at a District Headquarters Hospital, in Khaplu, Ghance.

In fact, you have not just insulted us, you have added insult to the injury.

If your crass argument is to be followed to the spirit, then no poor shall have any rights in a state, because s/he will most probably not be able to pay any taxes.

Let me run you through some facts which dispute and negate your fallacious assertion.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory. If it is not, as you have said, then correct your Foreign Office colleagues, because that’s what the Foreign Office Spokesman said a couple of days back, when asked about the future of our region.

Mr. Secretary, we have been paying all indirect taxes, like other people of Pakistan. We are not required to pay direct taxes to Islamabad, because we do not have any representation in the national parliament. The recent five-year long tax exemption given to Gilgit-Baltistan is reflective of this undeniable fact. I am sure that you know the universal principle, summed up in the simple to understand slogan, No Taxation, Without Representation.

Even if you expect us to pay direct taxes, then you are duty bound to give us representation not just in the national parliament, but also in NFC, ECNEC and other federal resource distribution forums, because we would need to know how our taxes are being used, and for what purpose. You cannot expect us to pay taxes, and live it in your, or the non-representative politicians’ hands, for whom we don’t vote.

Pakistan has been earning billions from Gilgit-Baltistan, in lieu of tourism taxes, minerals, trade with China. These federal earnings will increase exponentially with the progress of CPEC, but we will never be able to know what happens to our taxes, because our region, so far, even does not have a ceremonial representation in any decision-making body.

The fact is that we do not owe anything to Pakistan, which we proudly call our country, despite of being denied that right for more than seven decades. Despite of not being accepted as equal Pakistanis, we have selflessly rendered uncountable services for the state. I don’t want to repeat them, because they are discussed in detail frequently.

On the other hand, Pakistan, legally and ethically, owes us everything, because Pakistan is committed under international law to take care of our region, develop our region , and give us self-rule, till resolution of the Kashmir dispute, to which we have been forcefully made a party by the state of Pakistan.

Mr. Secretary, you may not realize, while looking at us, the destitute, from the royal pedestal that you adorn, but 100 billions rupees, if that much is paid, is peanuts when compared to the 70 years of misrule and exploitation.

You may know that more than half of the budget given to Gilgit-Baltistan is paid in salaries, or for the perks and privileges, dazzling vehicles, of officials like yourself. I am sure you are not working for us free of cost.

In fact, if we had true self-rule, as Pakistan is committed to give us, then you may have been spared the hardships of working in Gilgit-Baltistan, because, then, our elected government may have been able to choose someone as a Chief Secretary from among us!

Mr. Secretary, since you have expressed lack of understanding of our issues, and our history, and since you seem to be devoid of any compassion, you may kindly go back to the federal capital, where your services might be in more demand.

Regards

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Emperor Powers to PM of Pakistan over the People of Gilgit-Baltistan

By: Justice (R) Muzaffar Ali

FEDERAL Authorities of Pakistan have proposed an executive order with the title jafar ali“Government of GB Order” (here in after called proposed order) which is to be tabled before the Prime Minister of Pakistan soon for his approval. The preamble of the Order is interesting as such it is pertinent to reproduce the same here under: “Whereas it is expedient to provide for greater empowerment so as to bring Gilgit-Baltistan at par with other provinces and to initiate necessary legislative, executive and judicial reforms for the aforesaid purposes.” The “proposed order” will be extended to the GB after its approval and will have a force of foundation for administration, legislation and adjudication therein Gilgit-Baltistan. I have titled the “proposed order” as “Emperor Order” for the reason that the “proposed order” is even in contrast with its preamble and it vests all the powers of legislature, administration with the Prime Minister of Pakistan and it makes the judicial system of the GB subservient to the PM.
Firstly, it can be challenged as ultra-vires because the PM holds his office under the Constitution of Pakistan and the Constitution does not empower him to make law and simply he is administrative head in the federation of Pakistan. The Parliament is the law making body and the President of Pakistan having limited powers to pass an ordinance. If the “proposed order” is enforced in GB, the PM will gain ultra-constitutional “emperor powers” in respect of the GB and will rule over without any powers conferred on him by the Constitution.

If the “proposed order” is enforced in GB, the PM will gain ultra-constitutional “emperor powers” in respect of the GB and will rule over without any powers conferred on him by the Constitution.

That, after the approval of “the order”, the Prime Minister will create an assembly for GB unconstitutionally. The assembly will be with symbolic powers of legislation and entire legislative powers will be wasted with the PM under article 60(a) of the “proposed order”. The Constitution of Pakistan confers no powers of legislation on PM, but the PM will make the laws for GB assuming ultra-constitutional status as a king. That, under the order a provincial type of government will be constituted, comprising of the elected representatives of the GB with symbolic powers.

The Chief Minister and his cabinet members will be chosen representatives of GB. That, under the proposed order a judicial system has been introduced to the GB but impliedly subservient to the PM. Keeping in view the above facts, if one goes through the preamble of the order, as has been reproduced above, it seems mockery with the oppressed people of GB and nothing but disguise. The other provinces have their respective assemblies. The assemblies are having full power to make laws in respect of the province. The provinces have their own independent high courts, the PM of Pakistan has no job to appoint the judges of high courts and he has no concern with the remuneration and other terms of services of the judges of high courts.

GB has a special status because of Kashmir issue as such article-1 of the constitution does not mention GB within the territories of Pakistan but the honorable Supreme Court of the Pakistan has declared the people of GB as the citizens of Pakistan in the historical judgment titled Al-Jehad Trust versus Federation of Pakistan, 1999 S C M R pg.1379. The summary prepared, transpires that the above cited judgment has been taken as pretext to introduce the “proposed order” wrongly interpreting the same, for conferring the unlimited powers of legislation/administration, to the PM and to empower him to constitute a subservient judicial system in Gilgit–Baltistan by framing the “proposed order” notwithstanding the directives by the Supreme Court, issued to the federation of Pakistan, against the ratio-decidendi of the same. The administrative authorities in Federation if take the judgment as shield to impose their tyrannical wishes against GB, hopefully the Supreme Court of Pakistan will not tolerate and will safeguard the supremacy of law.

Suggestions: 1. It is suggested that the law division Islamabad to frame reforms for GB in the shape of a bill, entrusting the legislative/administrative powers to the elected representatives of the people of GB and present the same reforms before Parliament to pass the bill. Or the reforms be put before the provincial assembly of GB to pass the same. 2. Since, the Supreme Court has declared the people of GB as citizens of Pakistan and also has taken cognizance of the matters, presented before the Supreme Court relating to GB and the federal administrative authorities have also extended some chapters of the constitution of Pakistan to the GB through the “proposed order”, so, it is suggested that, despite, introducing a Supreme Appellate Court subservient to the PM, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan may be extended to the GB. 3. That, in the “proposed order” under article 2(b), the citizens under the Pakistan’s Citizenship Act,1951 (II of 1951) have been declared citizens of GB and in the first schedule pertaining to the oath of the office of the governor GB, chief minister GB, ministers of GB , speaker of the GB have been bound to take oath to discharge their duties perform functions, faithfully in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, then, what hurdle remains to declare the GB a province under the Constitution therefore, it is suggested that the GB be declared a fifth province of Pakistan.

— The writer is retired Justice Supreme Appellate Court, Gilgit-Baltistan.

[Obituary] In memoriam: Hakim Khan, former director of facilities management

Apr 27, 2018
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Avalanche Hit Karimabad, Hunza

Yesterday, a huge avalanche fall in Ultra Nula of Karimabad, Hunza. The dust created by the avalanche has covered Karimabad. Four, people were said to be missing and rescue mission of FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance and the volunteers from the local communities are searching for the missing people. May the precious lives of the missing by safe!!!

Dr. Asma, A Real Face of Gilgit-Baltistan

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“I did my basic schooling from Public School and College Jutial,Gilgit. I went to Aga Khan Higher Secondary School (AKHSS), Hunza for my Secondary and Higher secondary schooling. I have done my MBBS from Aga Khan University (AKU) and I will start my residency in Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia in June 2018.

I wasn’t really attracted to Medicine since the beginning like it is for many doctors, but during college it presented itself as a decent career choice and I took it as a challenge to get into AKU since no one from AKHSS Hunza had ever been able to get into AKU. I am extremely happy with my choice of career now, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in medical school and I can’t wait to start my residency.

Every day, a doctor is presented with a different challenge that is intellectually stimulating which keeps our curiosity alive, and we make a very noble connection with our patients.
My parents have been my rock throughout this journey. They have worked hard throughout their lives and showed us the value of hard work and education. They wholeheartedly supported my decision of studying in AKU even though it brought significant financial burden. I owe them everything.

My message to the youth: Through my time in AKU and AKHSS, I have realized that the choice of the institution for your education is extremely important. An institution would not only give you a degree but during your journey through it, you will develop your personality, the character and values of that institution will be inculcated in the fabric of your personality and that’s how you will develop as a person as well as a professional. So, strive hard to make yourself a part of such an institution. Make it a point to constantly give back to your community, guide your juniors and bring your services to help people.

Finally, in light of the rampant suicides it need to be said that in life we all constantly struggle, your idea of success will constantly evolve over the years so don’t think of a setback as failure and don’t define your life based on it. Think of it as an opportunity to reflect on life. If you are struggling with depression seek help and if you think someone is struggling, offer help or reach out to someone who can help them.”
-Asma Gulab, Murtazaabad, Hunza

200,000 Hits Milestone Achieved

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Flavors of Hunza, GB at Ocean Mall Karachi