Saturday, 21 September 2013

Local militancy on revival route in Kashmir
Jammu, September 18
Here hangs a tale. Two local militants, Aqib Rashid Sofi and Bilal Ahmad Bhat — who were killed in an encounter with security forces in Bandipore district in north Kashmir on Tuesday evening — are part of the emerging narrative in Kashmir that local youth are once again picking up guns and grenades. They were not the first ones nor can they be counted as the last in the series of locals who have started rejoining the ranks of militant outfits to give an outlet to their frustration. The assessment by the police and other agencies reveals that locals are getting attracted to militancy because of multiple reasons - the biggest being disillusionment with the system and radicalisation.
            here are plenty of Aqibs and Bilals roaming across the Valley. Some of them are students, others are job-seekers. Many others are looking for money. The story doesn’t stop here. They are also addicted to websites and the preaching of Imams who have come from madrasas outside state like Uttar Pradesh whose stress is on “ jihad.” The same role is being played by a large number of overground workers (OGWs).
During the wave of violence in 2010 in Kashmir, the youth realised that despite heavy casualties, their voice remained unheard. The government just stuck to fire-fighting measures. There was non-implementation of reports that were aimed at cooling the tempers and giving birth to hope.
An atmosphere of radicalisation prevails in the Valley and some parts of Jammu region. Fuelling the crisis is the unhindered flow of money from across the border. Pakistan remains the favourite “hawala” route. New sources of money such as the Gulf have also come up.
Militant outfits have no dearth of arms and ammunition. Official sources say there were dumps of arms and ammunition known only to the militant outfits. These weapons were stockpiled during the peak of militancy . It has emboldened the terror outfits and they are getting radical recruits and a lot of money too to run their campaign to get the youth willing to fight and die. These recruits pick up guns and dare to take on security forces with equal amount of ferocity as foreign militants. Foreign militants continue to come from across the Line of Control (LoC). The rising number of infiltration bids and ceasefire violations are proof of it.
The local element is growing in the militant ranks. Ironically, this trend is picking up simultaneously with many other youths working hard to get into the civil services. Earlier, foreign militants used to display their “special” skills by mounting fidayeen attacks or fighting security forces for days together. Now, local militants are doing the same. Statistics speak for themselves. The casualties so far in militant attacks this year is the highest in the last eight years. In 16 major attacks this year, militants have killed 33 security personnel — 13 Army soldiers, six CRPF men and 13 policemen.
The background of these local militants is different: they were born and brought up amid the gun and grenade culture. Unlike their elders, they did not see peaceful Kashmir. They had dreams and wanted to make it big in life. They were studying to qualify for decent jobs and live an honourable life. But their dreams got quashed by rampant corruption and government indifference. Distraught, they tried to turn their helplessness into power by picking up guns. “No one took care of these youth, whose age group ranges from 18 to 30,” said sources.
Militancy reached its peak in Kashmir in the mid-1990s when foreign militants from Pakistan to Sudan gave it a big push. That was the time when the Valley witnessed daily attacks and foreign militants, especially drawn from Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul- Ansar, later rechristened as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, were in the lead.
After the release of Azhar Masood, one of the three militants who were released in exchange of IC-814 passengers, Jaish-e-Mohammad was born. The high-profile terror acts such as the attack on the state Legislative Assembly and Parliament were committed by foreign militants. Local outfits such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were made to take the responsibility in a bid to give an impression that everything was being done by local militants. That was then. Now, deadly attacks by local militants have become a reality.
(With inputs from Majid Jahangir in Srinagar)

UK MP terms mass exodus of Pandits unprecedented human tragedy
JAMMU, Sept 18: Terming the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Valley in 1989-90 an unprecedented human tragedy, Marcus Jones MP of United Kingdom has  said the response of the UK Government to this tragedy was inadequate. Addressing a largely attended seminar organized by Indo-European Kashmir Forum (IEKF) at London on the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus recently, Mr Jones appreciated the IEKF’s initiative of organizing the seminar to highlight the plight of the displaced Pandits from Kashmir.
A handout issued by IEKF said Mr Jones  presented a forceful and passionate assertion that for the ethnic minority, to remain in exile for over two decades, is shameful. It is the solemn responsibility of the Indian Government and the international community to effectively and decisively to effectively address to the short term and long term concerns of Kashmiri Pandits. “I am indeed pained with your plight and the struggle that you have endured for the last two decades. Your dignified and structured return will be litmus test both for the local administration and all stakeholders’’, Mr Jones said.
Among the key note speakers in the seminar also included Andrew Griffiths another MP of UK, Krishana Bhan, president IEKF, Vijay Sazawal International Coordinator of IAKF, ICKF and IEKF, Moti Kaul president AIKS, Raj Pandit president of UK Priest Association, Bharti Tailor, president of the Hindu Forum of Europe, Vivek Kaul, member IEKF, Shantanu Bhagwat, former Diplomat of India Gopal Krishana Rao, representative of Kanchi Kamoti in Chnnai, Surinder Sharma former president of Overseas Friends of BJP in UK and Chandan Kotwal Executive Member IEKF. Krishna Bhan highlighted the continued apathy towards the aborigines and also highlighted the KPs heritage in the form of temples and shrines that stand in ruins today. She further stated that the race stands at the verge of extinction.
Vijay Sazawal said that it is high time for the Untied Nation Security Council to close the Kashmir file by announcing its intension to declare the ceasefire line as the International boundary and ask India and Pakistan to settle adjustments along LoC.
Moti Kaul lambasted both Centre and State Governments for responding to the issues concerning displaced Pandits.

CCI may be on warpath

Prof. (Hari Om)

Is the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), Jammu, planning to take recourse to an extreme step and start an indefinite strike? If what the otherwise quite moderate and peace-loving president of the CCI Y.V. Sharma told reporters in Jammu on September 18 is any indication, then it can be said without any hesitation that Jammu could be on the warpath anytime after a couple of days. Talking to reporters, Sharma, along with his colleagues, had, among other things, said: “The Chamber may call for an indefinite strike or launch a non-cooperation movement against the government if it doesn’t adopt the trader-friendly policy” and accused the government of “ignoring the demands of the traders”.

“The government had assured the Chamber that it will assess the losses suffered by the victims of Kishtwar riots (read violence as certain anti-India elements and extremists had targeted the members of the minority community after offering Eid prayers on August 9 and there is nothing on the ground which could even remotely suggest that the minority community had played some mischief to provoke members of the majority community to attack them or avenge the mischief) within a month,” Sharma also said, and added that the state government had made a solemn commitment that it will compensate the victims of violence on the basis of “actual loss…in the next 30 days of the assessment of loss”.
What provoked the CCI to threaten an indefinite strike? It was, according to him, the recent cabinet decision wherein it was announced that in all the cases the limit of compensation will be between Rs. 2 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh, irrespective of the extent of the loss. The other provocation was the condition that the compensation will be distributed equally between the owners of the shops and the tenants doing business in the said shops. Sharma took exception to this condition saying that the CCI had been given to understand that “this order would be applicable retrospectively with effect from April 1, 2013″. “It is a breach of trust,” Sharma stated bemoaning the arbitrary conduct of the concerned authorities.
As a matter of fact, the CCI leadership charged the authorities with going back on their solemn commitment that had induced it to call off its strike last month against what it called the official “inaction” in Kishtwar. “The CCI withdrew its strike only after the express assurance of the Chief Minister and his team of ministers involved in the dialogue that the traders must be paid full compensation for the losses they suffered” on August 9, when Kishtwar witnessed violence on an unprecedented scale with the hooligans and anti-national elements attacking members of the minority community, looting and plundering their shops and business establishments and setting on fire their properties and vehicles, including cars.
According to one estimate, the anti-national elements had set on fire more than 80 properties of the minority community, including shops and other establishments, besides other things, including even government vehicles and petrol tankers. The violence had also resulted in three deaths and injuries to several others, some of whom had to be airlifted to Army Hospital, Udhampur, and Jammu Medical College Hospital for immediate treatment. The Army had to airlift the injured civilians as those who controlled the Kishtwar District Hospital had refused admission to the injured civilians belonging to the minority community.
The situation in Kishtwar would not have deteriorated to the extent it deteriorated had the law and order authorities and certain important elements in the government and local civil administration taken all the precautionary measures and acted in time and enforced curfew strictly. It may be pointed out that the local authorities had announced curfew at about 12 noon but it was enforced only after 7 p.m. for the reasons best known to them. It was this act on their part that enabled the goons and votaries of Great Kashmir and Pakistan to enact the drama of death and destruction with utmost ease and go scot-free. The Army swung into action after 7 p.m. and brought the situation under control.
It would not be out of place to mention here that Kishtwar and the adjoining affected towns remained under curfew for days together as the authorities apprehended more trouble there. It is also important to note that the organized violence had made a number of families belonging to the minority community migrate to safer places. In fact, some of them did migrate, but returned to their original habitat after the situation got normal and the community leaders played an important role. The gravity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that the Minister of State Home Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, who hails from Kishtwar and was there when violence broke out, had to tender resignation on August 12, the day the Indian Parliament took up the Kishtwar issue in a big way and the entire opposition comprising the BJP, the CPI, the CPI-M, the BSP, the TDP, the TMC and other parties in one voice condemned the planned violence and demanded stringent action against the culprits. Indeed, the entire opposition held the state government responsible for the unfortunate and avoidable gory incident with the BSP even demanding its dismissal and imposition of the Governor’s Rule, the CPI-M accusing the state government of allowing the situation to deteriorate and the BJP telling the ruling clique that the state did not belong to “one family”.
What happened on August 9 continues to cause concern even today. And what the CCI said has to be viewed in this context. The state government would do well to address its concerns and concede its demands, which are genuine by any yardstick. Their demands include compensation to the victims based on the actual loss and rehabilitation of all the victims of Kishtwar tragedy in a way that they harbour no ill will or grudge against the authorities. Even otherwise, the authorities are required to go an extra mile to assuage the hurt feelings of the victims of violence and, hence, it is imperative to concede the demands as put forth by the CCI on behalf of the affected people.

विस्थापितों को गुमराह कर रही सरकार
21 सितंबर 2013 जम्मू। विस्थापित कश्मीरी पंडितों के संगठनों ने सरकार पर गुमराह करने का आरोप लगाया है। पनुन कश्मीर के प्रधान अश्विनी कुमार चुरंगू का कहना है कि कश्मीर वापस लौटने पर बीस लाख का पुनर्वास पैकेज की जो बात हो रही है और कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों को असल मुद्दे से भटकाने की साजिश और विस्थापित इससे गुमराह नहीं होंगे। चुरंगू का कहना है कि केंद्रीय गृह सचिव के साथ वीरवार को नई दिल्ली में हुई बैठक में पनुन कश्मीर की तरफ से उन्होंने साफ कर दिया कि रोजगार पैकेज या अन्य कोई पैकेज को कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों की समस्या का स्थायी हल नहीं माना जा सकता। उनका कहना है कि कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों की समस्या राजनीतिक है और इसका स्थायी हल ही होना चाहिए। बीस लाख के पुनर्वास पैकेज के साथ घाटी वापसी की शर्त गुमराह करने वाली है और सरकार इससे कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों में गलत धारणा पैदा करने की कोशिश कर रही है। पनुन कश्मीर इसकी निंदा करता है और कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों की समस्या का राजनीतिक हल करने पर जोर देता है। जगती टेनामेंट कमेटी के प्रधान शादी लाल पंडिता का कहना है कि सरकारी कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों के साथ आंख मिचौनी कर रही है। कश्मीरी पंडित विस्थापितों को अगर घाटी में वापिस भेजना है तो वहां पर किसी सुरक्षित जगह पर सभी विस्थापितों को एक साथ बसाने या दो से तीन सेटेलाइट कालोनी बनाई जा सकती है। मौजूदा समय में हो रही बातें हवा हवाई है।

राज्य की सियासत में भूचाल
21 Sep 2013 जागरण ब्यूरो, श्रीनगर : पूर्व थलसेना प्रमुख वीके सिंह द्वारा जम्मू-कश्मीर सरकार को गिराने के लिए खुफिया फंड से लगभग सवा करोड़ रुपये कृषि मंत्री गुलाम हसन मीर को देने के आरोपों ने राज्य की सियासत में भूचाल ला दिया है। कृषि मंत्री मीर जहां खुद पर लगे आरोपों को निराधार बता रहे हैं, वहीं नेकां ने मामले की जांच सुप्रीम कोर्ट के जज से करवाने के साथ मीर को खुद ही सरकार से हटने की सलाह भी दे डाली। जम्मू-कश्मीर डेमोक्रेटिक पार्टी से संबंधित कृषि मंत्री गुलाम हसन मीर ने दैनिक जागरण से बातचीत में सभी आरोपों को बेबुनियाद बताया। मीर ने कहा, 'मैंने हमेशा जम्मू-कश्मीर में एक लोकतांत्रिक और स्थिर सरकार की मजबूती के लिए काम किया है। मुझे कोई जरूरत नहीं कि मैं पर्दे के पीछे किसी की कुर्सी छीनने की सियासत करूं। यह आरोप साजिश का हिस्सा है। मैं चाहता हूं कि पूरे मामले की उच्चस्तरीय जांच हो, ताकि सच सबके सामने आए।'
'एक मंत्री जो खुद सरकार में शामिल है, सरकार को गिराने की साजिश कर रहा है। सच क्या है, यह तो कृषि मंत्री ही जानते हैं। मौजूदा हालात में तो मीर साहब को खुद ही सरकार से अलग हो जाना चाहिए। राज्य व केंद्र सरकार को पूरे प्रकरण की जांच करानी चाहिए, क्योंकि यह साजिश उमर सरकार के खिलाफ नहीं बल्कि भारतीय लोकतंत्र के खिलाफ थी।'
-अली मुहम्मद सागर, ग्रामीण विकास मंत्री
'यदि आरोप सही हैं तो यह पूरे देश के लिए एक गंभीर संकट का संकेत है। इस मामले की सीबीआइ से जांच कराई जानी चाहिए।'
-मुहम्मद युसुफ तारीगामी, मा‌र्क्सवादी कम्यूनिस्ट पार्टी के विधायक

'पूर्व सेनाध्यक्ष ने वर्ष 2010 में उमर सरकार को गिराने के लिए खुफिया धन का प्रयोग किया है। उसी साल कश्मीर में हिंसक झड़पों में कई लोगों की जान चली गई थी। यह हिंसा मच्छल मुठभेड़ से शुरू हुई थी, जो बाद में फर्जी निकाली थी। यह सब जनरल के इशारे पर हुआ है, इसलिए इस मामले की सुप्रीम कोर्ट के जज या सीबीआइ की फास्ट ट्रैक से जांच करवाई जाए।'

-देवेंद्र सिंह राणा, नेकां प्रांतीय अध्यक्ष
'मीर को कुर्सी पर रहने का अधिकार नहीं है। दोगली नीति अपनाने वाली केंद्र सरकार कभी भी जम्मू-कश्मीर में स्थिर सरकार नहीं चाहती थी। राज्य में सेना अपनी जिम्मेदारी निभाने के बजाए ऑपरेशन सद्भावना की आड़ में कई गलत कार्य कर रही है।'
-डॉ. मुस्तफा कमाल, नेकां के अतिरिक्त सचिव

सांबा में लगेगी महाराजा हरि सिंह की प्रतिमा
21 Sep 2013  जागरण संवाददाता, जम्मू : महाराजा हरि सिंह के जन्मदिन पर अमर क्षत्रिय राजपूत सभा की ओर से सांबा में महाराजा की प्रतिमा स्थापित की जाएगी। केंद्रीय स्वास्थ्य मंत्री गुलाम नबी आजाद महाराजा की 14 फीट लंबी प्रतिमा का लोकार्पण करेंगे। प्रतिमा लोकार्पण से पूर्व हवन-यज्ञ का आयोजन भी किया जाएगा। अमर क्षत्रिय राजपूत सभा के प्रधान ठाकुर नारायण सिंह ने शुक्रवार को पत्रकारों से बातचीत में इस बात की जानकारी दी। उन्होंने कहा कि महाराजा के जन्मदिन के सुनहरे अवसर पर उनकी प्रतिमा का लोकार्पण किया जा रहा है। सिंह ने कहा कि यह प्रतिमा सांबा में वीर भूमि पार्क के साथ अमर क्षत्रिय राजपूत भवन में स्थापित की जा रही है। सिंह ने कहा कि इतनी बड़ी प्रतिमा जम्मू के तवी पुल पर स्थापित हुई थी और अब यह दूसरी इतनी बड़ी प्रतिमा स्थापित होने जा रही है। सिंह ने कहा कि सुबह हवन-यज्ञ के साथ महाराजा के जन्मदिवस का कार्यक्रम आरंभ होगा और मंत्रोचारण के बीच प्रतिमा का लोकार्पण किया जाएगा। सिंह ने जम्मू के लोगों से भी इस महत्वपूर्ण अवसर पर सांबा पहुंचने की अपील की। इस दौरान अमर क्षत्रिय राजपूत सभा के अन्य पदाधिकारी व जम्मू प्रोविंस पीपुल्स फोरम के प्रधान रिटायर्ड जस्टिस पवित्र सिंह मौजूद रहे।


Friday, 20 September 2013

Evolving relations between Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan
WASHINGTON, DC: The opinion makers in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad-Kashmir (AJK) find themselves at odds in defining the relationship of Gilgit-Baltistan with the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. They also differ in views on how the lingering Kashmir dispute should be resolved. The majority of the people in Gilgit-Baltistan maintain that their forefathers liberated the region from the despotic rulers of Kashmir in 1947 and subsequently declared allegiance with the newly created state of Pakistan. Therefore they expect Pakistan to merge their region as its fifth province. However, there is a significant minority which promotes the idea of an independent republic. It points to the fact that UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir require Pakistan to withdraw from Gilgit-Baltistan and transfer control to local powers. It therefore maintains that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have the right to rule their land without any interference from Pakistan.
            On the other hand, the people of AJK, often considered the voice of the ongoing separatist movement in Indian Kashmir, consider Gilgit-Baltistan an integral part of Kashmir and vehemently oppose its merger with Pakistan. Similar views prevail across the line of control (LOC), wherein both the pro-Indian Kashmiri leadership and the separatists claim Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Kashmir.
            Recently, Molvi Umar Farooq, the leader of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, while talking to the media in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, reiterated Kashmir’s claim over Gilgit-Baltistan. Similar assertions have come from the political and religious leaders of Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan including the members of Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance. These differing thoughts on the fate of Gilgit-Baltistan strain the already polarized and charged discussion among various stakeholders who strive to build alliances across sectarian, linguistic and ethnic lines.

Pro-Pakistan leadership in Gilgit-Baltistan has repeatedly condemned Kashmiris for such overarching claims over their region. However, the same leaders have also been unsuccessful in convincing successive Pakistani regimes to amend the country’s constitution and merge Gilgit-Baltistan. Even today, Pakistan’s federal institutions including the Supreme Court, Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister, cabinet members, chiefs of the armed forces, and heads of different parliamentary committees maintain that Gilgit-Baltistan is a UN declared disputed area and her residents cannot be declared citizens of Pakistan until India and Pakistan resolve the issue of accession of Jammu and Kashmir.
            Interesting yet ironic, India, unlike Pakistan, claims Gilgit-Baltistan as a constitutional part of the country and declares the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as her citizens. In 1994, both houses of the Indian Parliament passed a unanimous resolution reiterating that Pakistani controlled parts of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan are integral parts of India. However, given that physical control of the region remains with Pakistan; such constitutional provisions are futile in doing any good for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
            iven India’s claim over Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, an amicable solution between the two countries is indeed a Herculean task. For Pakistan to retain permanent control over Gilgit-Baltistan, it will have to withdraw the issue from the UN and persuade India to amend its constitution to redefine the international boundary between both countries. Given the fragmented nature of the parliament, no Indian government is in a position to muster a two-third majority and convince lawmakers to concede almost 90,000 square kilometers of land to Pakistan. Another source of ire for India is Pakistan’s unwillingness to discuss the issue bi-laterally and its insistence on a larger multilateral role. Hardened attitudes have hindered ability of both countries to successfully engage in conclusive dialogue on the dispute.
            hile India and Pakistan have established constitutional frameworks in their respective areas of Kashmir; Islamabad rules Gilgit-Baltistan through ad-hoc presidential ordinances which are subject to periodic renewals. At this time, Gilgit-Baltistan has no representation in federal judicial and political institutions. Lacking constitutional legitimacy, Gilgit-Baltistan’s overall development and social fabric have suffered and the situation hinders justice and equal human rights.
            ow, as the people in Gilgit-Baltistan slowly awaken to the reality that they will not become Pakistan’s citizens anytime soon, they are starting to demand the same rights the people of AJK have enjoyed since 1949. This includes the establishment of a constitutional framework, the offices of the President and Prime Minister, a Supreme Court and reinstatement of State Subject Rule.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance, a leading political conglomerate of eight nationalist parties favors such a setup till the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. To advance such demands, prominent political figures of Gilgit-Baltistan including the Vice Chairperson of Pakistan Workers’ Party, Babajan Hunzai and member of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, Raziuddin Rizvi, recently visited AJK and shared their views with the local leadership there. An encouraging gesture came from the legislative assembly of AJK afterwards which passed a unanimous resolution demanding a separate constitutional framework for Gilgit-Baltistan.
            Gilgit-Baltistan has gone through twelve political and administrative experiments since 1948. It is about time that Gilgit-Baltistan receives a constitutional framework of its own. The leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK and Pakistan should work towards a win-win solution rather than accepting an impasse. Merging with Pakistan or AJK are paths fraught with obstacles. Creating a constitutional framework similar to AJK will therefore allow Gilgit-Baltistan to retain her identity while helping to defuse opposition from different quarters in New Delhi, Islamabad and Kashmir.

Source:. Sering is the President of Washington D.C. based Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies. He hails from Shigar valley of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan is politically marginalized yet a geo-strategic region, which borders China, India, Afghanistan-Tajikistan and Pakistan. China has been involved in development of the region since the early 1960s while recently earmarking billions of dollars for mineral extraction, dam building, and industrial and telecom growth. The Institute believes that since Gilgit-Baltistan is sparsely populated, ecologically fragile, and contested by two nuclear powers, rapid interventions can create political friction at the global level.
Given China’s interest in accessing the Gwadar port through Gilgit-Baltistan, thousands of Chinese workers and security personnel have entered the disputed region endangering the well being of locals and placing an extra burden on resources. It is estimated that China will invest more than $30 billion in Gilgit-Baltistan in the coming years to build dams and connect Xinjiang with Gwadar via rail and road.

This will help China access naval bases in Karachi and Balochistan. Chinese firms are also involved in mineral extraction which has triggered tens of thousands of locals to protest. Although many of these projects could lead to prosperity, the presence of foreign workers could deprive the poverty-stricken citizens of economic opportunities. In some instances, the natives have clashed with Chinese workers demanding their withdrawal.
The Institute remains keen in analyzing these evolving situations which have long-term cultural, environmental and political implications for the region. The Institute asks the Pakistani government not to promote Chinese Mandarin language in Gilgit-Baltistan at the cost of the indigenous languages. There is already a ban on teaching native languages in government schools which could lead to a cultural genocide.

The Institute also focuses on terrorism. The Pakistani government has long used Gilgit-Baltistan to promote insurgency in Afghanistan and India. In 1974, Pakistan violated UN resolutions by abrogating the State Subject Rule and causing large-scale demographic change in Gilgit-Baltistan. Many internationally banned state-led organizations have since established their presence in the region.
Extremists and militants threaten the survival of the native population which follows Shia and Sufi traditions. Shias refuse to allow their land being used as sanctuaries, training camps and launching pads for insurgencies which has become the main cause of their persecution. The Pakistani secret service is concerned about losing control over the strategic region, and encourages the persecution of  Shias to keep them subservient. As a result, thousands of Shias have died in the past 65 years while tens of thousands have been forced out of their homes and continue to live as refugees.
In 2012, more than 100 Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan were killed by terrorists. Demographic change through exodus, genocide and forceful conversions has helped the militants secure grounds in different regions. Growing extremism has brought social degradation and polarized religious and ethnic groups. At the same time, it has affected the tourism industry which is the backbone of local economic growth.
Militants have also forced India to increase troop-deployment on the border with Gilgit-Baltistan creating political friction. As the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan is fast approaching, it is feared that Gilgit-Baltistan will once again become the hub of banned terrorist outfits which intend to infiltrate into northern Afghanistan. The Institute believes that the fallout of these advances on local people and culture will be detrimental. Given the gravity of the situation, the Institute believes that the US government should declare Pakistan a country of particular concern (CPC) to contain state-led religious persecution. The Institute also strongly recommends that Pakistan remove militant camps and reinstate State Subject Rule in Gilgit-Baltistan to discourage religious and racial demographic change and resource thievery.
Moreover, the Institute suggests that Pakistan resume travel between Afghanistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and India to promote trade and secular culture as a counter to the growing extremism. For centuries, these routes have served as the lifeline of the silk trade and brought prosperity to the locals. The closed border has directly affected more than half a million people in Gilgit-Baltistan who now survive on government handouts and temporary labor.

The Institute shares the view that isolation and closed borders breeds terrorism and restricts the ability of the natives to resist militant onslaught. Therefore resumption of trade on traditional routes will be an incentive for the locals to empower themselves financially and partner with Western governments in the fight against terrorism. Resuming travel between Gilgit-Baltistan and India is also a humanitarian appeal as it will allow more than ten thousand refugees reunite with their relatives across the Line of Control, which has become the Berlin Wall of South Asia.
Pakistan lacks sovereignty over the disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan and rules it with ad-hoc ordinances. As Gilgit-Baltistan remains outside Pakistan’s constitutional framework, such temporary political frameworks have failed to provide socioeconomic relief or justice to the locals. These ordinances – twelve in total since 1948 – have promoted exploitation of resources by outsiders but with little benefits to the indigenous peoples.

The Institute remains a committed defender of courageous political and cultural activists who work at great personal risk. Currently several political activists are facing sedition charges and detention for challenging illegal government practices. The Institute demands immediate release of all political prisoners and an investigation by the UN into the state-led extra judicial killings in Gilgit-Baltistan.  The Institute also asks Pakistan and India to demilitarize the region to de-escalate tension. Pakistan has fought many wars with India over Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, most recently the Kargil war of 1999 which killed more than 4,000 people in Gilgit-Baltistan. The Institute supports peaceful dialogue as the only means to solve the Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan dispute and expects that the UN plays a supportive role in this regard.
(Senge Sering is a researcher and human rights advocate. He was born in the UN declared disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan which remains in Pakistani control since 1948. Currently, he is managing the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, based in Washington DC. He frequently visits the Geneva based United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, the British Parliament and the American Congress where he raises awareness about Gilgit Baltistan. Senge has been instrumental in arranging conference on Gilgit Baltistan in collaboration with several US and European think tanks and disseminating information on related issues)