GB Order 2018 – A Step Towards Equality

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The Gilgit-Baltistan government has promulgated the Gilgit-Baltistan Order-2018, replacing the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009. There are many important features of this GB Order 2018 which distinguish it from previous one and ensure commitment of Pakistan government for promotion of equality to its all population.

Gilgit Baltistan is called Jewel of Pakistan. It is one of the most attractive resorts for tourists from the whole world. Just 294 km away from Islamabad, 72,971 square kilometer area of Gilgit Baltistan is a place of amazing beauty. Its beauty has uniqueness from all other hill stations.

Gilgit Baltistan shares its borders with three other countries: Afghanistan, China, and India. It is also very close to Central Asia. Its culture has also subtle shades of Central Asian cultures. Its total population is more than 1.8 million. The crime rate is very low in this area. No crime has ever been reported in Ganache district. Literacy rate in Gilgit-Baltistan is 100% so it can be regarded as the most educated area of Pakistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan strategic importance is also evident from its past. Czarist Empire and British Empire tried to make Gilgit-Baltistan their stronghold. Importance of Gilgit can also be gauged from the fact that Indian Viceroy Lord Curzon at Delhi, about 2,000 kilometers away from Gilgit, journeyed to this mountainous, inaccessible area on horseback for hundreds of kilometers.

After Independence, Gilgit-Baltistan remained highly important strategic area during all Indo-Pak wars, especially in first Kashmir war of 1947 and in Kargil war 1999. Siachen is considered the highest battleground in the world that saw the warm blood and motivations of Pakistan army martyrs in Kargil war. If we look Gilgit Baltistan from the Prism of China Pakistan Economic Corridor then it becomes an evident fact that GB and Gawader are two most important regions of Pakistan for the success of this game changer project.

Due to this enormous beauty and strategic importance, enemies of Pakistan always look Gilgit Baltistan with a bad eye. Indian intentions to snatch this jewel of Pakistan from our map are evident from its stance before international community that Gilgit Baltistan is a disputed territory. India considers GB as a part of Kashmir. This consideration is totally wrong as Gilgit Baltistan is an integral part of Kashmir from all the dimensions. This fact can be proved with historical pieces of evidence that Gilgit Baltistan has never remained as a part of Kashmir because the territory of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was started from the Eastern bank of Indus River. So, Gilgit Baltistan was never remained part of Kashmir in past.

Gilgit Baltistan is now going to become an integral part of Pakistan with the implementation of this new GB order 2018. According to GB order 2018, Governor of the Gilgit-Baltistan shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. Governor should be a registered voter and resident of Gilgit-Baltistan. In past, there was no condition related to citizenship of Gilgit Baltistan for Governor. For running government there shall be a Cabinet of Ministers, with the Chief Minister at its head, to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions.  Chief Minister shall keep the Governor informed on matters relating to administration and on all legislative proposals the Government intends to bring before the Assembly.

GB Assembly shall consist of thirty-three members of whom twenty-four members shall be elected directly on the basis of adult franchise while six women members shall be elected on the pattern of election of such members in the Provincial Assembly in Pakistan; and three technocrats and other professional members shall be elected on the pattern of election of such members in the Provincial Assembly in Pakistan. The Assembly shall meet on the twenty-first day following the day on which a general election to the Assembly is held unless sooner summoned by the Governor.

Many improvements have been done in previous order to give Gilgit Baltistan full political, administrative, financial, and legislative rights like other provinces of Pakistan. In previous GB Empowerment and self-governance order, 2009 intention of making Gilgit Baltistan equal to other provinces was shown nowhere. While in new GB-order 2018 it is deliberately said that from now on people of this region will be rewarded equal rights like other citizens of Pakistan. This was the ever longing demand of GB natives which is now fulfilled.

Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951 which defines criteria and rights of Pakistani populations was not mentioned in GB empowerment and self-governance order 2009 but now every person holding Gilgit Baltistan domicile will be rewarded with full citizenship under Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951.

Locals of Gilgit-Baltistan will now cherish with all twenty-five basic human rights of Pakistani citizens mentioned in Constitution of 1973 of Pakistan. Previously only seventeen basic rights were given to GB natives. Now they can challenge any human rights violation in any court overall Pakistan. No differentiation of rights has remained between GB population and remaining Population of Pakistan.

According to Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009, there were two legislative institutions one was Gilgit Baltistan Council which can do legislation on fifty-six issues while the other one was Gilgit Baltistan legislative assembly which can discuss sixty-one issues for legislation. But under GB order 2018 all issues which are not under the federal government can be discussed in the provincial assembly like other provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, KP, and Balochistan.

Gilgit Baltistan chief court is renamed into Gilgit Baltistan High Court. The number of high court judges had been raised to two on the demand of the lawyers’ community. Chief Judge of Gilgit Baltistan GB Supreme Appellate Court would be a retired judge of Supreme Court. A five-member committee would be formed to depoliticize appointment of judges of the GB Supreme Appellate Court and high court.

These reforms are a good step for the betterment of Gilgit Baltistan and to sort out their miseries. Many local political stakeholders take these reforms as a threat to their own political powers so they are using their resources to undermine the benefits of these reforms for GB citizens. India is also speaking against these reforms because through these reforms GB will become an integral part of Pakistan and its people will enjoy full citizenship rights. The Indian stance has been categorically rejected by the government of Pakistan. Development and stability in any part of Pakistan are against Indian hegemonic agenda, and in GB which is entrance point of CPEC in Pakistan implications of these reforms will undermine Indian intentions. Pakistan should also raise this issue on international forums as it is totally against international laws to speak about other countries internal issues.

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