Wednesday, 20 March 2013

After Palestine, Pakistan-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan demands UN observer status

Washington DC, DC
Saturday, March 16, 2013

General Debate: Twenty Fourth Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Item 3: "Promotion of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development"

Statement by Senge Sering, delegate representing African Technical Association

March 9, 2013

I thank you Mr. Chairman for this opportunity. African Technical Association remains a committed defender of courageous rights defenders who work at great personal risk to promote rights of others. ATA has a firm commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights including the basic rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.  Pakistan continues to rule Gilgit Baltistan, a disputed region contested by India, as a colony. In 1974, Pakistani state violated UN resolutions by abrogating the State Subject Rule and causing large scale demographic change in Gilgit Baltistan. Many internationally banned organizations have since then established their stronghold in the disputed region, which thrive under state patronage and its members slaughter local Shias to keep them subservient. These terrorists are behind the killings of more than 100 Shias attacked near Chilas, Babusar and Kohistan in 2012. As of recent, seven citizens of Gilgit Baltistan were killed by anti-Shia group in Abbas town, Karachi. Pakistani judicial system has failed to provide justice and prosecute Shia attackers as they live under the patronage of Pakistani secret services. As Gilgit Baltistan shares border with northern Afghanistan; the arrival of militants and their patrons in recent months indicate that Pakistan will use Gilgit Baltistan as a launch pad to advance strategic interests in Afghanistan and the fallout of these advances on local people and culture will be detrimental.

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 socio-economic relief or justice to the locals. Several political activists remain imprisoned and face sedition charges for demanding self-rule. These ordinances – twelve in total since 1948, have enabled Pakistan and China to exploit mineral and water resources while the locals lack the constitutional capacity to defend themselves against this onslaught. Authorities have imposed a ban on native languages but readily adopted Chinese Mandarin in local schools, which could cause cultural genocide, already prevalent in China occupied East Turkestan and Tibet. Given China's interests in Gwadar port, one can see arrival of tens of thousands of Chinese workers and security personnel endangering the wellbeing of local people and placing extra burden on resources of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Given Pakistan's self-centered attitude towards the citizens of Gilgit Baltistan, it is incumbent upon the UN members to advocate for the right of self-determination, which Pakistan has denied since 1948. Like Palestine, Gilgit-Baltistan also deserves an observer status with the United Nations. UN is also requested to increase strength of her personnel stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan which will help provide protection to the local religious minorities.

I thank you Mr. Chairman

Senge Sering
Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies
Washington DC, DC

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