Peo­Ple of gIlgIt-BaltIstan want to joIn IndIa: Bnf

Chair­man of the Balawaris­tan Na­tional Front (BNF), Ab­dul Hamid Khan sheds light on the dire sit­u­a­tion in Pakistan oc­cu­pied Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

The chair­man of the Balawaris­tan Na­tional Front (BNF), Ab­dul Hamid Khan, who lives in Bel­gium in po­lit­i­cal asy­lum, spoke to The Sun­day Guardian. BNF is re­garded as the most im­por­tant voice of the in­dige­nous peo­ple of Gil­gitBaltistan. Khan said that the peo­ple of Gilgit-Baltistan, who are en­gaged in a free­dom strug­gle with Pakistan, want to join India. Q: You re­cently said that the res­i­dents of Gilgit-Baltistan will vote to join India. What is the rea­son be­hind this state­ment? A: The an­swer is sim­ple. We, the peo­ple of PoGB (Pakistan oc­cu­pied Gilgit-Baltistan), have a long ex­pe­ri­ence of 69 years of Pak­istani con­spir­acy against the in­dige­nous peo­ple. In the 21st cen­tury, we are de­prived of even ba­sic rights. We don’t have the right to vote, we don’t have the right to free speech and we also don’t have the right over our own re­sources and land and we don’t have the right to jus­tice. Q: Re­ports in Pakistan me­dia and the state­ment of its of­fi­cials sug­gest that your party, Bal­waris­tan Na­tional Front (BNF), does not rep­re­sent the peo­ple who are liv­ing in Gilgit-Baltistan. How would you re­spond to this ac­cu­sa­tion? A: If BNF does not have any fol­low­ing then why is the oc­cu­pa­tion regime of Pakistan so afraid of us? Why has it banned BNF and why has it de­tained more than 15 work­ers and im­posed ter­ror­ist charges against them and framed them as In­dian agents. To know the fol­low­ing of BNF and other na­tion­al­ist par­ties of PoGB, a ref­er­en­dum should be held un­der an im­par­tial body but not un­der the oc­cu­pa­tion of Pakistan and its forces. We will ac­cept the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum if the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple opt for stay­ing with Pakistan. But Pakistan knows that the peo­ple of POGB will not vote in its favour. I chal­lenge the Pak­ista­nis to be coura­geous and hold a ref­er­en­dum, if they feel that the res­i­dents of PoGB are with them. Q: Are you con­vinced that the res­i­dents of Gilgit-Baltistan, if it hap­pens, will wel­come India’s di­rect and of­fi­cial in­ter­ven­tion in the re­gion? If yes, what do you sug­gest India should do as the ini­tial step? A: Af­ter long neg­li­gence and ig­no­rance, it will take some time or years for India to do its home­work on PoGB. India should take the is­sue of PoGB boldly and sup­port them fully, both diplo­mat­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally and should give this enough space in its me­dia. To­day In­di­ans don’t know the le­gal po­si­tion of PoGB and even don’t know whether it’s dis­puted or not. Q: The China-Pakistan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) has been mar­keted by Pakistan as a “grand- step” that will change Gilgit-Baltistan. How would you re­spond to this as­sess­ment by Pakistan? A: Af­ter a few years, Pak­ista­nis will cry and weep like the way we the peo­ple of PoGB did, af­ter our el­ders did a mis­take on 1 Novem­ber 1947 by fight­ing against the Ma­haraja’s forces. China will never with­draw its forces from Pakistan and if, in the future, any Pak­istani de­mands that from the Chi­nese troops, China will de­mand the whole money along with in­ter­est, oth­er­wise they will re­main in Pakistan’s ter­ri­tory and will sub­due Pak­ista­nis as a whole. Q: You have also spo­ken about how dis­sent is be­ing crushed in the re­gion by us­ing Sched­ule 4 of the Anti-Ter­ror­ism Act. Do you have any ev­i­dence to sup­port your claim? A: My own party work­ers are in jail un­der Sched­ule 4, along with more than 1,500 peo­ple of PoGB. Pakistan and India, it seems, have a joint strat­egy to black out hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion hap­pen­ing in PoGB, I am sorry to say this.

The world me­dia is ei­ther ig­no­rant or it is in­ten­tion­ally ne­glect­ing the grave hu­man rights is­sue of PoGB. BNF lead­ers and work­ers, who de­manded free­dom and op­posed CPEC, have been ar­rested and tortured by JIT and then im­pris­oned un­der ter­ror­ism charges. Pak­istani me­dia and the me­dia in PoGB and PoK are to­tally un­der the con­trol of the ISI and have no courage to ut­ter a sin­gle word with­out its per­mis­sion. The only free me­dia, Kargil In­ter­na­tional and Daily Baange­shar were banned and the ed­i­tor of Baange­shar is in jail ater be­ing ac­cused of be­ing a ter­ror­ist, be­cause he dared to write about the grave hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion of PoGB. The In­dian me­dia only men­tions PoK and Balochis­tan, but not PoGB and when it does, it does not say “Pakistan oc­cu­pied Gilgit Baltistan”. The peo­ple of PoGB, PoK and even Pakistan do not con­sider PoK as a part of PoGB.

PoGB is the most im­por­tant area of the dis­pute; it is seven times big­ger than PoK in size, it’s strate­gi­cally the most im­por­tant (it’s the only area which pro­vides phys­i­cal link be­tween China and Pakistan and it has bor­ders with Afghanistan and Ta­jik­istan) in the whole J&K is­sue. It has huge re­sources in­clud­ing wa­ter, gold and ura­nium. It’s the area which pro­vides the lion’s share of wa­ter by the In­dus river that cul­ti­vates Pun­jab and Sindh be­sides Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa.

It’s the area where Pakistan and China are ben­e­fit­ing by ig­nor­ing the de­mands and rights of its in­hab­i­tants.


A man makes earthen lamps ahead of Di­wali, on a street in Ajmer on Sat­ur­day.

(Left to right) Hawal­dar (Re­tired) Maroko and Ma­jeedul­lah khan. Ma­jeedul­lah Khan has been framed as a RAW agent with­out any proof. He was tortured se­verely.

Some BNF pris­on­ers in front of the Anti-Ter­ror­ist Court in Gilgit for hear­ing.

Ab­dul Hamid Khan

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