GILGIT: Another election is approaching fast in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Various leaders have already rolled their sleeves up while their respective supporters, who associate themselves with different groups, ideologies, personalities, and tribes, are also preparing for the elections.
In particular, one can see youngsters take to the social media to express their support or anger for different candidates. It is vital for a viable society to discuss and debate issues while upholding all ethical values.
We need not get personal and emotional while discussing issues. Plus, aspiring leaders and their social media advisers should promote tolerance and provide space for opponents to discuss and share their concerns.
Now we come back to identifying a politician amongst candidates, who could best work under the current political environment and political setup of Gilgit-Baltistan. Who is a true leader? Who is competent? Who is honest? Who did what in the past?
These are some of the critical questions being debated by the youth on social media. I did a cursory content analysis on some of the comments of social media users on the Facebook pages of three different candidates. I can gauge from the comments that most of us are still confused; we don’t have a clear framework in our minds to asses a candidate and his/her competencies.
Either we are biased, or our prejudices dominate our conscience. We first need to determine what competencies, experiences and traits we are looking for in our ideal leaders for the upcoming election in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Leadership has various forms; there are social leaders and religious ones. But here, we are looking for a political leader. The set of competencies required for being a political leader is entirely different from being a community leader or a religious one.
Holding a Master’s degree in political science can most probably make you a good political analyst in this country but not necessarily a successful politician.
In Pakistan’s political arena, it seems that being a gentleman is not a desired trait nor is simply being competent enough for holding office. In the context of Gilgit-Baltistan, we need someone who can best perform under the present constitutional set-up, with limited autonomy, and confront the continuous tug of war with the bureaucracy and the establishment.
We need someone who has proven skills to work in the bureaucratic system, which is dominant in the region. We know the worth of the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly under the current political set-up. It is time for change, specifically for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, with Pakistan and China having already signed an agreement on various mega projects that may pass through our region.
We need to safeguard our interests in a rapidly changing environment. Our land rights, our pastures, rivers, natural landscape, will be at stake if we do not choose the right candidate. He or she does not have to be a community leader, nor a religious one, but someone who knows the politics of the land and can use the politics for the benefit of the people. --