By Musa Ali Khan
People in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) love Pakistan with national pride. This culture of chauvinism dates back to November 1, 1948 when this region got liberation from the Dogras. This love affair continues despite the absence of constitutional reforms due to myopic leadership at the center.
The question arises, why do we love Pakistan? There might be many reasons and some of them are as under:
The first reason may be the Karakoram Highway (KKH) which connects the most isolated mountainous region to the other parts of the Pakistan and the world. Before KKH, poverty and ignorance were dancing in the landlocked region where a piece of salt was far expensive than gold. In such a pathetic situation, KKH brought positive change in the areas in the form of cheap products.
The second reason might be the end of princely states because the autocratic heredity rulers had levied unbearable taxies against the local population with zero returns. According to Leitner GW (1866), fighting amongst royals for thrones had made the entire mountainous region deserted and crippled with no option to escape. In such a panic situation, brining political and administrative reforms made the people love for Pakistan. Third, getting fuel, wheat, gas and many other products at subsidized cost made the mountainous people love Pakistan.
Due to above mentioned favorable change in the G-B paved the road of getting education aiming at bringing quality in their living standard. So the government, army and a few renowned NGOs invested in education. As a result a middle class evolved while playing positive roles in the socio-economic and political sphere of the G-B and the country.
With the passage of time, getting mass education becomes trend in the area without vocational schools and professional colleges. In the absence of proper planning, unemployment increased and frustrated youth started questioning the government as it failed to address the basic needs of the citizens.
The situation further aggravated when positions and authority bestowed on religious, caste, and political affiliation rather than merit basis consequently, people without proper capacity in the helm of affairs could not address the basic concerns and aspirations of the people. This is because Gilgit city remained a battle field between sects for many years taking away the lives of innocent people and spreading unrest in the area.
Villages were invaded, infant to old aged assassinated and passengers were brutally killed taking them off from the buses. Moreover, when peaceful community in Hunza demanded for the settlement of Attabad Lake displaced people, police opened fire on peaceful protesters and killed a father and son on the spot. Their festering wounds are still waiting for fair trial and justice.
Moreover, most of government projects which were meant to develop infrastructure have been sick for the last many year due to greedy bureaucrats, contractors, and political elders. Likewise, shoddy development work and unchecked corruption in every walk of life dented the trust of common people in the business of government affairs. Thus, the gulf between the people and the government service providing agencies is getting widened day by day.
No rational person can ever think to harm Pakistan and its institutions. Currently, the police chief of G-B seems to be very hard on some youth as he accused them of getting money from enemies to sabotage CPEC.
It is the duty of the security agencies to be hard on wrong doers but at the same time there should be mechanism to address the unemployment, frustration, corruption and merit violations.
If KKH has brought such prosperity to land locked region then imagine what would be the fruits of CPEC. However, demanding fair distribution of its benefits amongst different parts of the country is a sane voice.
It is not too late to address the genuine concerns of educated youth in order to rejuvenate their aspiration through social justice and democracy and providing jobs on merit basis. Thus, using power to curb frustration is a wrong approach and listening and addressing the genuine concerns of people through justice is a right one as we are by choice Pakistani not by chance.
The writer is head of a private school in G-B and works on a mission for education and social justice
تحریر : شبیر میر
بات نکلی ہے کرپشن کی ۔ ایک زمانے میں کہا جاتا تھا کہ اگر اپ ایک پرسکون زندگی گزارنا چاہتے ہیں تو کرپشن سے دور رہیں۔ سزا، معاشرے میں بدنامی وغیرہ وغیرہ آپ کی نسلوں تک کو دیمک کی طرح چاٹ کر کھو کھلا کر دیگی ۔ لیکن زمانہ بدل گیا ۔ اب کہا جاتا ہے کہ اگر آپ تیسری دنیا کے کسی پاکستان جیسے ملک میں رہ رہے ہوں اور واقعی دولت مند بننا چاہتے ہوں تو کرپشن کریں۔ اور اگر سزا سے بھی بچنا چاہتے ہوں تو کوئی چھوٹی موٹی خرد برد نہیں بلکہ کوئی بہت پڑا ہاتھ ماریں۔ اتنا بڑا ہاتھ کہ آپ کی مٹھی بھر جائے ۔ اگر آپ ایسا کچھ کرنے میں کامیاب رہے تو آپ کو عزت سے کسی پلی بارگین (Plea Bargain) کا حصہ بنایا جائے گا ۔ یوں اپ کی بقیہ زندگی آرام سے گزار سکے گی۔ لیکن اگر اپ نے کوئی چھوٹی موٹی کرپشن کی تو سمجھ لیں انجام بھیا نک ہو گا۔ بہت ساری مثالیں ہمارے سامنے ہیں۔
بلوچستان کے ایک سرکاری افیسر مشتاق احمد رئیسانی چالیس ارب روپے کی کرپشن میں دھر لئے گئے ۔ کئچھ ماہ بعد نیب نے خود ہی پلی بارگین منظور کرتے ہوئے ان سے دو ارب روپے کی و صولی کے بعد کیس کو برق رفتاری سے کنار ے لگا د یا۔ رئیسانی کی گرفتاری اور ان سے بر ا مد ما ل واقعی چونکا دینے والی خبر تھی لیکن اس سے بڑی چونکا دینے والی خبر دو ارب روپے میں معاملہ سلجھنے کی تھی ۔ اس بات کو میڈیا اور سوشل میڈیا میں شدت سے موضوع بحث بنا یا گیا کیونکہ یہ ملکی سظح پر پلی بارگین کا سب سے بڑا کیس تھا ۔ ظاہر ہے کہ چالیس ارب کی خرد برد کی اطلاع بھی خود نیب نے ہی دی تھی ۔ اور بھر معاملہ دو ارب میں نمٹنا نے میں بھی نیب کا ہی کردا ر تھا ایسے میں سوالات کا اٹھنا تعجب کی بات نہیں۔ لیکن اگر تعجب کی بات ہے تو وہ جوابات کا ملنا ۔ سودا تو خیر مہنگا نہیں تھا اور خاص طور پر مذکورہ افیسر کے لئے ۔ چند دن کی رسمی کارروائی ، سوال و جو ا ب اور پھر معا ملا ت بحا ل۔ اور نیب کے لئے بھی کم و بیش ایسا ہی کہا جاسکتا ہے ۔ بھاگتے چور کی لیگوٹی ہی سہی کے مصداق کچھ نہ کچھ تو ہاتھ لگا جس سے کسی کا تو بھلا ہوگا۔
سودا تو نوجوان کرکٹر محمد عامر اور ساتھیوں نے بھی برا نہیں کیا تھا ۔ سپارٹ فکسنگ میں پکڑے گئے تو کیا ہوا ! چند سالوں کا ارام (جو کہ پابندی کی صورت میں تھا ) اور پھر سب پہلے جیسا ۔ ظاہر ہے ہمارے قومی ہیر و ز کو سز ا بعد اقرار جرم کے ہی ہوئی تھی لیکن خلاصہ یہ ہے کہ یہ مرحلہ بھی خوش اسلوبی سے طے پا یا آخر کار سزا بھی تو ایسی سزا کہ سزا کو سزا کہنا بھی گویا خود ایک سزا۔ کہ بس آپ کھیل نہیں سکتے باقی جو آپ کی مرضی کر لو ۔ ہمارے ہاں جیلوں میں تو پتہ نہیں کتنے لوگ عدالتوں سے فیصلے آنے کے انتظار میں سالو ں سے بے یارو مددگار پڑے ہوئے ہیں ۔ نہ جانے کتنے گزر گئے ہوں اسی آس میں اور نہ جانے کتنے گزرنے والے ہوں ۔
پورے ملک کی طرح گلگت بلتستان میں نیب ایکٹیو ہو چکا ہے اس کا اندازہ ان پیغامات سے لگایا جا سکتا ہے جو عوام الناس کو موبائل فون پر وصول ہو تے ہیں۔ ( Say no to corruption) یہ وہ میسج ہے جو اب ایک گنوار اور ان پڑھ شخص بھی اپنے موبائل میں دیکھ کر کم از کم سمجھ ضرور سکتا ہے ۔ نیب کا یہ موبائل پیغام ایک پر اسرار دھمکی سے تعبیر کیا جانے لگا تھا کہ شکر ہے یہ سلسلہ بند ہو گیا ۔ لگ یوں رہا تھا کہ اس سے وہ لوگ زیادہ خوف زدہ تھے جو زندگی کے کسی نہ کسی موڑ پہ چھوٹی موٹی کرپشن کے مرتکب ہو چکے تھے کیونکہ نیب کا ان پر ہا تھ ڈالنے کا مطلب گویا ان کے لئے لینے کے دینے کے مترادف ہوجا تا ۔
بہر حال ہاتھ تو ڈالا جا چکا ہے اور گرفتاریاں بھی عمل میں لائی گئیں ہیں ۔ گلگت بلتستان میں بھی مہدی شاہ سرکار میں کرپشن کے حوالے سے بہت کچھ سننے کو ملا لیکن سوائے چند ایک بدقسمت سرکاری افیسران کے باقی سب اچھا ہی رہا ۔ بدقسمت اس لئے کہ وہ دھر لئے گئے ورنہ پردے کے پیچھے کسے خبر کیا نہیں ہوتا رہا ہوگا ۔ انصاف ضرور ہونا چاہئے اور انصاف فوری ہونا چاہئے جیسے رئیسانی کے کیس میں ہوا ۔ لیکن آخر رئیسانی فارمولہ اس خطے میں لاگو کیوں نہیں ہوسکتا ۔ کہیں اس لئے تو نہیں کہ یہاں مبینہ خرد برد کی رقم اتنی نہیں ؟ یا اس لئے کہ یہاں دو تین کی قربانی سے ہی تمام کا کفارہ ادا ہو؟
By Fahad Rasheed
Throughout the history, Pakistan has managed to cultivate good relations with United States and China, thanks mainly to Pakistan’s geostrategic importance in the region.
Pakistan remained a frontline ally of United States for a long time and has received assistance in the form of military and economic aid.
Pakistan’s relations with China have a long history as both the countries have many mutual interests. China is Pakistan’s most trusted friend with “India factor” being common.
But the multibillion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has created uncertainty with rest to Pakistan’s ties with both China and United States.
CPEC is a flagship project, an important component of the Chinese long vision initiative One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR). This is an example of how China eagerly wants to dominate the regional powers and may be also the International powers by using its vision of connecting itself with Europe with One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative.
China wants to increase its influence in the region by connecting itself to Europe through the South Asian Region which is the shortest possible route to Europe.
China is cashing the fruit of long friendship with Pakistan as geographically Pakistan lies in the region which is the shortest route to Europe for China and thus China collaborated with Pakistan to initiate CPEC, a land route going across Pakistan from Pak-China border in Khunjerab Pass to Gwadar, a deep water port located in the Arabian Sea, through which China will start its economic trade with Europe.
"By initiating CPEC, China also wants to experiment that how they can execute it on other regions of the OBOR project."
United States of course do not like this idea of Chinese vision as they do not want China to dominate in the International Arena and emerge as a threat to them. Pakistan was a frontline ally of United States during Cold War. United States aided Pakistan militarily whenever it needed, first against USSR, then Taliban and now against Terrorism.
United States mainly gave Pakistan military aid until 2009, when United State Congress authorizes $7.5 billion in development aid. This shows that United States always used the geostrategic location of Pakistan to counter its rivals such as USSR in the past and now Taliban. The mean behavior of United States towards Pakistan caused many ups and downs in the relations between the two throughout the history. On one hand, United States wants to increase its influence in Pakistan in order to counter China as an emerging power and on the other hand, is also bonding with India which is Pakistan’s frontline rival and which China considers to be its biggest rival in the region.
China shares long positive historical relations with Pakistan dating back to 1951 when formal diplomatic relations between the two initiated. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize China. This opened a new chapter of history of bilateral friendly cooperation. China has always firmly supported Pakistan’s development and implementation of anti-terrorism security strategy based on its national conditions. Pakistan and China shared economic, defence, and cultural cooperation over the period of time which strengthened their relations in more positive way. China wants to dominate as a regional power in Asia and India is the only power who can compete with China in the region, so to counter India, China is supporting and of course, aiding Pakistan which is India’s arch rival.
If we put it in this way, China needs Pakistan to counter India and Pakistan also needs China to counter India in the region and this is the basic reason of strong bilateral relations between China and Pakistan.
Pakistan, being the main actor in the multi-billion dollar project, will receive many gains in the form of economic progress and domestic and regional stability. China also, will want a secure and stable Pakistan in order to make CPEC successful. Thus, the project will automatically insure the security and stability of Pakistan, and resulting in a tilted policy of Pakistan towards China. United States obviously will see this China-Pakistan mutual understanding of CPEC as an emerging competition to itself and will try to contain it in any way it can and the situation leaves United States with only one option and that is to tie knot with India which will automatically tackle both China and Pakistan.
This change in behavior of United States policy towards Pakistan leaves Pakistan in a confusing situation. Currently, Pakistan is focusing on the success of CPEC and in the process, ignoring some of the United States perspectives about CPEC. China is also investing vastly in the project with Billions of Dollars and by developing Pakistan’s infrastructure to make sure that CPEC will be a success.
For China, CPEC is a regional small part of its larger and international vision with the help of which China wants to initiate its OBOR project. This means China will leave no stone unturned to make the project successful. Pakistan also wants to gain profits from the project as it will boost up its economy resulting in the shifting of its policy towards China more than United States. United States will take this as a challenge and will try to Strict its policy towards Pakistan. This contemporary situation is resulting in the creation of a dilemma in relations of Pakistan with United States and China and it will be a tough decision for Pakistan to make between United States and China in the near future.
The author, a resident of Gilgit-Baltistan, studies International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University
By Musa Ali Khan
The government of Gilgit-Baltistan allocates PKR 70 million for every member of G-B Legislative Assembly for rural development such as construction of roads, bridges, infrastructure of health and educational facilities etc.
The members will further allocate funds for annual development plans (ADPs) based on his/her personal discretion without any due process of need identification and priority. Moreover, no one knows about the funds that technocrats and lady members spending on when, where, how and why.
There are many faults related to need identification, evaluation and implementation process related to development fund. The results of wrong priorities are wastage of human and material resources which has negative impact on the progress of the area. For example, the site selection of Hatoon Degree College Ghizer was to not a strategic decision to facilitate the young generation with education but it was totally based on to provide financial befits (compensation for barren land) to one of his relatives of the former member of legislative counsel. Consequently, the faculty members and students face long distance to reach an isolated area even it is not a convenient distance for the same villager as well.
The second phase of development projects come to in the hand of implementers. The overseers, Assistant Executive engineers (Ary) and Executive Engineer (Xen) with a number of clerks are implementers through contractors. These are the real exchequers to ensure right contractor, quality assurance and timely completion of the development projects. However, due to nexus of engineers, clerks and contractors most of the projects have been sick for the last one decade mostly in district Ghizer. Inter-college Chatorkhand, Girl High School Pakora are the some of the examples of the sick projects which the author knows.
Moreover, Girl High School Chatorkand building completed after fifteen year but the students use tents because of the huge cracks appeared in the RCC building.
Many decades ago, D.H. Lawrence said “ours is essentially a tragic age.” We live in an era of duality, hypocrisy where corruption, nepotism, and favoritism in its peak to gain monitory and financial benefits without contribution and involvement in national development.
On one hand, some government servants grow rich like magic beans while on the other hand, a major population faces poverty due to callously inhuman behavior of the various service providing agencies which have been setup to provide basic human needs using public tax. If those projects which were meant to develop society are completed in time, they would minimize the poverty and frustration of the youth to some extent.
It seems that with a rapid speed, our society is going towards total moral collapse with no self-and other accountability mechanism using short cuts to get money and wealth. It is universal fact that there is corruption in every society but there should be accountability as well.
Now, this perception is increasing in the society that with no accountability mechanism is in-placed, the war between haves and have not’s will be starting soon because of huge poverty and frustration among youth that is increasing day by day due to lack of education, skills, transport, health, other development facilities and wrong priorities of the exchequers in the helm of decision making.
According to an official report launched by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform in June 2016, about 40% Pakistanis (around 60 million) live in multidimensional poverty.
Depressed by poverty, the young people vent their frustration out in social media. The basic reason of their frustration is regarding inability to deliver basic facilities to the citizen by those at the helm of affairs. This is a genuine demand and instead of addressing the genuine concerns of youth, the state departments use iron hands. Obviously those who are demanding accountability in public service departments, rule of law and merit are not agents of a foreign country but they are helpless in the hands of basic service providers. Now the question is: Who is traitor? Are frustrated people OR those who push them into frustration? And who should be put in Schedule – IV? The poor frustrated youth or those who pave the way?
If there will be rule of law in the country, the corrupt wealthy irresponsible people would be behind the bars.
The role of some renowned non-government orgs in the development of rural context is very positive. They not only brought positive improvement in the life of common people in the rural context through providing basic facilities like education, health, irrigation, and plantation but also changed their beliefs to practice self-help programs and projects. Here, the logical question arises if one person brings such a huge change then why the services of our government agencies are so pathetic? The reason is obviously lack of vision and giving ranks to people on sect, religious, family ground and violating merit based appointments in absence of rule of law and accountability in the country.
So what should be the remedies? The first one is to ensure merit based appointments, transfer and posting in positions which matter for providing better services to the common people. The government should arrange capacity building for the concerned departments to improve their skills, attitudes and work ethics. Lastly, those who are involved in corruption must be accountable for their misdeeds. Otherwise, frustration of young educated people will be difficult to handle even in the long run.
The author heads a private educational organization in Gilgit-Baltistan
By Raja Mushtaq Ahmad
As I talked about my stay in Oregon previously in these pages, there exist some basic differences between Gilgit-Baltistan society and American society.
The American people are independent, welcoming, gracious, well-mannered, kind and helping because they are residents of the most developed country in the world.
But few things are new to me and attract me to make further comparisons. My observations are based on my discussion with faculty members of the University of Oregon (UO), students at UO, and community members at different shopping malls, at Eugene bas station and in different hotels.
In my previous article, I raised the issue of homeless people in Eugene, Oregon USA. One of the main reasons these people are homeless is because they don’t have a joint family system.
We have a joint family system back in Gilgit-Baltistan. A joint family system is an extended clan comprising multiple hierarchical tiers of relatives with their respective spouses and children. They live under one roof, eat meals together and try to get along.
It is the elderly who mostly prefer this system, because it alleviates their insecurities regarding age, loneliness and being excluded from their adult children’s lives.
Some of the advantages associated with the joint family system include enhanced security for members, support in times of need, getting different perspectives during decision making and enjoying affection from family members.
(Also from the author: http://outpost.pk/opinions/983-from-eugene-to-gilgit-baltistan.html )
Joint family systems are closely knit together, making family members bond and help each other in whatever way necessary. Joint family systems stress the need for each family member to look out for the interest of the other, enhancing security for all.
Family members are also able to help each other in times of financial need or health complications.
Our culture strongly supports a joint family. It expects sons to dwell with their elderly parents in their homes and financially support them, even if the latter are well-off.
My wife is a teacher and mother of a two-year-old son; we have a joint family and that’s why she is able to pursue her teaching career despite children.
But the concept of family is different in Eugene as compared to Gilgit-Baltistan. Most families consist of a mother and father with an average of one to three children. But we have a family consisting of many members.
Most families, regardless of where they are located, will all get together to celebrate events like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
But a few cases are different. I met some old parents; the father is above 80 and the mother is above 65. Both have three children, from their previous life partners.
The man has suffering from cancer, and is under treatment at a healthcare center. While his wife is living outside of Eugene, in a farm house, lonely. She visits her husband daily. But their children visit them only once in a blue moon, because they are busy and live in different states.
This is part of American culture, but in Pakistan we never let our parents alone in their old age.
In the US, parents of an adult person are not considered their dependents or part of his/her immediate family. Some people get married and divorced several times, or even have children out of wedlock. Relationships are sometimes confusing.
It is not uncommon to hear phrases like “she is my father’s wife” (not necessary the mother), “he is my mother’s boyfriend “or “he is my son’s father” (not necessary the husband).
I heard one of my colleagues saying that on Thanksgiving, “We are going to meet our father.” I asked, “Is your father not living with you? How old is your father?” He replied,”65, and my father is living with his new girlfriend in another state.” This is a very interesting story for me.
Advantages for Senior Citizens - A Fine Array of Privileges
Senior citizens in US are entitled to significant discounts on anything from travel to movies and from bus fare to consumer goods. Retail stores sometimes give senior discounts on slow days, such as every Wednesday, for example.
Some establishments give out senior citizens cards which allow discounts all the time.
Community help for senior citizens can range from help preparing tax returns, to free hot meals for the homebound. Many communities have “senior citizen centers” that allow for socializing, entertainment, job searches and other kinds of assistance.
During our stay in Oregon, I had the chance to experience voluntary work with Dr. Muhammad Ismail who is my KIU colleague, Aneela, an International Studies student at UO who is from Swat, Pakistan, and Dr. Anita Weiss, Professor of International Studies, UO.
We worked with the volunteers of Habitat for Humanity, and made a wheelchair ramp for an old lady at Springfield.
Some (homeless people) adopt this lifestyle by choice. I met a young boy and girl (homeless) in Springfield, who used to be students at University of Oregon. But, they left their studies due to financial reasons and adopted this lifestyle; they said they are happy to live as homeless people.
Joint family system is an enduring strength, and I am sure we don’t have a single homeless person in Gilgit-Baltistan, although we are living in a very backward and underdeveloped area as compare to Eugene.
The author is currently in Oregon, United States, as part of a faculty exchange program.