Widening differences: ‘G-B’s identity crisis is resulting in dejected youth’

GILGIT: Lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir has said the unsettled constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan has pushed the region into an identity crisis.

“The identity crisis has paved way for despondency among locals, especially the youth,” said Jahangir. She shared findings of the preliminary report on human rights in G-B at Gilgit Press Club on Tuesday.

Jahangir, who was on a visit to G-B, said the government must come up with a solution to settle the chronic issue that has haunted people over the past seven decades.

“Another thing that I have noted here is the excessive use of the anti-terrorism act against the people,” she said.
She regretted the fact that the law was being used against those who were political activists and not terrorists to silence their dissenting voice. Jahangir met people from different walks of life, including lawyers, civil society members, political activists and journalists.  “I noticed there is a deep sense of insecurity among the residents [of G-B].”

She flayed the government for incarcerating Baba Jan and 11 other political activists for raising a voice for their rights. Jahangir said had she been in the region, she would have taken to the streets with Baba Jan to fight for those who lost their land.

The human rights activist said the natural resources of G-B belonged to the people and the government should not frame policies that deprive them of their wealth. “We also noticed an element of mistrust between the rulers and the people and it is widening with each passing day.”

The human rights activist maintained the government should handle activists through political means and not intimidation. Jahangir also voiced concern over enforcement of the fourth schedule in the region. The condition keeps certain suspicious individuals under the government’s watch.

She added a resolution to the long-standing issue on the constitutional status of G-B was in the interest of Pakistan as it would strengthen
the country.