Gilgit-Baltistan issue: Hurriyat to protest against Pakistan over 'merger'

Hurriyat Conference will lodge strong protests in Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) against the move by the Pakistani government to convert Gilgit-Baltistan region as its province. But this is not the first time that the separatists have gone against Pakistan: they have resisted moves by Pakistan to unify the two factions of Hurriyat Conference (HC) and earlier opposed Pakistan President Pervaiz Musharaf’s plan of regional autonomy as a resolution of Kashmir problem.

Gilgit. AFP

Gilgit. AFP

Sources in the Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, which is popularly described as Hurriyat (G), said that they have conveyed to the Pakistani establishment their opposition to plans to convert Gilgit-Baltistan as one of its provinces. Hurriyat (G) has asked its cadre in PAK which is headed by its Convener and Incharge of the Azad Kashmir Chapter of Tehri Ki Hurriyat, Ghulam Mohammad Safi, to resist moves by Pakistan to turn Gilgit-Baltistan into its province.

Hurriyat (G) has asked its cadre in PAK which is headed by its Convener and in-charge of the Azad Kashmir Chapter of Tehri Ki Hurriyat, Ghulam Mohammad Safi, to resist moves by Pakistan to turn Gilgit-Baltistan into its province. Both the Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, described as Hurriyat (M), have opposed the move to convert Gilgit-Baltistan as another region of Pakistan.

Chairman of the People’s Conference (PC) and executive member of Hurriyat (M), Bilal Gani Lone, said that Gilgit-Baltistan is only one of the regions of Jammu and Kashmir. “ We believe that conversion of Gilgit-Baltistan as one of the regions would weaken efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue,” he said.

However, it is not the first time that the Hurriyat Conference has gone against Pakistan. Sources said that the Pakistani establishment has conveyed to both the factions of the Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat (M) to come together and to put a unified voice, but the same was not being heeded to. A top Hurriyat leader admitted that the Pakistan’s suggestion about unification of the Hurriyat Conference was not being followed.

Earlier, during the regime of Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharaf, Syed Ali Shah Geelani had protested against his 4-point formula for the resolution of the Kashmir problem. Musharaf had advocated more regional autonomy and making the borders porous for regional peace. Musharaf had sounded the Hurriyat leaders during their visit to Pakistan in 2009 that a broader framework would be evolved on Kashmir and talks between Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer and New Delhi had progressed over demilitarisation of Kashmir as the first step towards resolution of Kashmir problem.

However, Geelani had opposed Mushraf’s formula and stated that solution to the Kashmir problem should be worked out as per the United Nation Resolutions, which interestingly give a choice of referendum to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to either merge with Pakistan or stay with India. Indian Parliament has passed a resolution in 1994 that Jammu and Kashmir was its integral part and Pakistan must vacate the area under its occupation.

The latest opposition by the Hurriyat Conference on the Pakistan’s proposal is being seen by many political observers here as a dramatic development. Political Analyst, Dr Shiekh Showkat Hussain, however, said that the move by Pakistan to convert Gilgit-Baltistan into a province is in reciprocation of the popular mood among the people of the region.

“There is a large public demand from the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that they should get representation in Pakistani parliament and the people there never wanted to become part of the Azad Kashmir administration which has its own President and Prime Minister,” he said. “ The Gilgit-Baltistan areas were merged by Dogra rulers in their territory, but were given to the Britishers on lease. Till 1947 there was a separate British resident who operated from the area,” he said.

However, Hurriyat (G) Majlisi Shora member and Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Chairman, Shabir Ahmad Shah, said that the merger of Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan would go against interests of people of Kashmir. “ Pakistan is a party to Kashmir dispute , but the step to convert Gilgit-Baltistan into one of its regions would go against the interests of Kashmiris and work in favor of India. We have registered our view over the issue with the Pakistani government,” he said.

Updated Date: Mar 23, 2017 20:25 PM

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