BY AMJAD ABBAJ SAAKA
Under Gilgit-Baltistan Self Governance Order 2009, Gilgit-Baltistan [G-B] election commission conducted second general elections on 8th June in the region. As was expected, PML-N formed the government. It has been a practice in G-B the party that rules in the centre forms government in G-B. This proved true, which means political ideology is still an illusion in the region.
As Muslim League Nawaz [PML-N] rules in the center, the party emerged as single largest party in G-B. However surprises came from Ghizer district where all three seat were lost by PML-N despite seasonal and veteran politicians like Ghulam Muhammad and Sultan Madad were contesting on PML-N ticket. Some sort of competition was posed by new comer advocate Shakeel against Nationalist Leader of BNF, Nawaz Khan Naji but Naji secured win against shakeel at eleventh hour.
As smooth transfer of power has been made and Hafeez Hafiz has sworn as chief minister of GB, the real test has been started keeping the local power and political dynamics of GB as the region being multi-ethnic and sectarian volatile most of the time easy target and porn to internal and external threats.
Being chief minister is definitely a sign of person with good fortune however hafiz has endless list of challenges which he has to face, some of them are inherited from previous government and some of them are on the ground as reality.
The first challenges he has is that he has to prove himself as the chief minister for GB not his constituency as his predecessor Mehdi shah did in his five year tenure, he has to think like statesmen not political puppet of his party surrounded by “yes Sir Advisor” .He has to prove that he is true public representative and good ambassador of GB and his party and has to through the cloak of bigotry based on sect, creed and cast.
The second important challenge for him is observance of law and order ,as we know that GB is gate way of 45 Billion Dollars investment and India has already shown its ill reservation against the investment ,so there is threats of disturbance that would be created by our enemies and most probably the agent would local as well so he has to develop a mechanism to address these threat which could be instigate in the name of sect, regionalism, language, safe and protected KKH, streets and roads of G-B will earn good name and fame for him
It is sad that a region with potential of 50000 MW generation of power is almost in stone ages due to heavy loadshedding. Over the years we have heard of various hydal projects but load shedding prevails everywhere, so it is expected of new government that it will not come under the influence of petroleum mafia and initiate power projects in the region and present the case of Diamer-Basha dam, Bunji Dam in manner according to will of people as these mega project have long lasting effects on socio-economic and cultural life of G-B.
Unemployment and civic engagement of Youth is another main challenges for current Government ,population bracket of 18-35 is major group of GB’s population and every year thousand of educated youth complete their education and dream to have prosperous future however lack of private sector ,business opportunities and limited job offer in government sector(most of them job for sale) is great threat which can divert the abilities of youth on wrong path.
So CM has great challenge to create job opportunities for educated youth and curb those elements who sell jobs in public sector and create entrepreneurship opportunities for skilled youth by creating business and investment friendly ambience in G-B. Recently G-B Government has signed an agreement with National Testing Service (NTS) to conduct test for nearly 6000 thousand jobs in G-B, however there are serious reservations among education youth of G-B and across Pakistan regarding transparency of NTS.
G-B is considered as one of the region of Pakistan having high literacy rate however the situation is not different than Baluchistan and Sind ,the quality of teachers (as most of them are hired for 3 lac) have no ability and required to teach in far flung areas, teachers even don’t bother to come to school and involved in dual jobs, structures of Government school the facilities for children are inadequate and with such educational environment we expect not builder of the nation but cattle in uniform. So it is highly desirable that new government should invest in education for better and prosperous future of students and G-B and has to introduce reforms in education sectors in collaboration with private sector. CM has to introduce the system of strict check and balance in education department regarding the appointment of official in department because its like living in fool paradise from an officials who join the department through back doors and under the carpet deal
With such challenges one can expect from new government that it will not follow the paths of PPP and Hafiz with his team of minister will address the issues of nearly 1.5 million people of G-B who have been deprived of many amenities in the past. It is expected from new government that it will not follow the example of Punjab where appointment on important position is made on the basis of “Main Sb sa Rishtadari”.
The writer is Youth Development Officer at Diamer Poverty Alleviation Program