Before the independence, Gilgit-Baltistan had been subjected to Dogra and British India. In 1935 British took control over the administrative and security affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan under a term of the lease for 60 years, the step was mainly taken to secure all fronts against the threat to spread of Communism following the revolutions in Russia in 1917 also known as the Bolsheviks revolution, committed to spreading communism across the borders which were at that time extended till Afghanistan, covering modern-day Central Asian countries.

British Indians were concerned about possible internal uprisings along the Borderlines with Afghanistan or tribal belt hence they had imposed violent and black laws like the FCR ( Frontier Crime Regulations) Act under the Indian Act of 1901.

FCR was an exploitative and abusive tool to sabotage the rights of individuals living in those prescribed areas as mentioned in the act.

Their right to appeal, defend, and pursue legal cases In any other colonial territories was suppressed and they were restricted to councils of elders (Jirga) which were also headed by Political agents who used to be the representatives of colonial power in those areas.

After the declaration of Independence of Gilgit Agency by surrendering Governor Gansara Singh of Dogra, The new government in Gilgit Agency was formed for a short time of only 16 days under Raja Shah Raees Khan as the first president of the new Government and veteran commander Col. Mirza Hasan Khan as head of arm forces of Gilgit-Scout.

Gilgit-Baltistan’s annexation to Pakistan had its history showcasing arbitrary shifts in political dynamics of that era, the Indian forces seized control over most of Kashmir at the request of Hari Singh, Ruler of the State of Jammu and Kashmir who had unilaterally signed an instrument of annexation with India on 26th October 1947. The case following India annexing major parts of Kashmir had emerged as a bone of contentions between two newly born states i.e. Pakistan and India.

India took the case to the United Nations led to the development of UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) both countries were signatories to it but both failed to fulfill the prerequisites for holding a plebiscite in the disputed region to exercise the right to self-determination of the Indigenous population. As for the matter of Gilgit-Baltistan linked to the ‘Kashmir cause’ under UNCIP, the region has been thirsting for administrative and constitutional autonomy since its annexation with Pakistan. The Advisory Council for Northern Areas was constituted in 1970.

After five years Northern Areas Council Legal Framework Order 1975 was promulgated on 3 July 1975 by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Major administrative, Judicial and Political reforms were introduced and this Framework order abolished Jagirdari Nazam and FCR. The Advisory Council for Northern Areas was replaced by the Northern Areas Council in 1975. The Government introduced the packages of administrative and financial reforms for Gilgit Baltistan on 15th December 2007.

After the general election of Pakistan in 2009, the Government introduced a Financial and Administrative package through a presidential Order, named “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009” to provide greater political empowerment and better governance to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan People’s Party formed the first government in Gilgit-Baltistan after the 2009 order in the 2010 election. The first ever Budget size passed by GB constituent assembly was only Rs 6,404.889 million of which 25.16 % of the budget was allocated to education, and 11.6 % of the budget was proposed for health.

Despite of center’s continuous vowing to grant G-B’s due rights the center hasn’t been fully able and materialize its packages and grants.

It has been an understood phenomenon since 2010 elections that whichever political parties come into power in the center, G-B has been seen as welcoming the same party in power like in 2010 Pakistan People’s Party seized power, likewise in the 2015 election when PLM-N ( The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz) was in power in the center, PLMN scored a victory in 2015 election in G-B for the next five years following that in 2020 election G-B followed the channel and PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) came in power which is now the most popular party in the history of G-B and Pakistan. The budget of G-B for the year 2023-24 was Rs.116,000 million of which Rs 1.3 million was allocated to Health and Rs. 1.5 Billion for education.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, the matter of Centre to G-B political relations has been inevitable for day-to-day governance as top government bureaucracies in G-B including the chief secretary, Inspector General of police, and even the Governor are appointed by the federal. Bureaucracies in G-B have been a prominent mark in administrative, financial, and security affairs. Unless a political party in G-B has good terms and mutual understanding with the Centre, the region couldn’t even prosper and perform day-to-day governance so efficiently which is the need of the time for the region which is far backward and undeveloped.

G-B has been ruling under the presidential order of 2018, The piece of legislation, which received presidential assent on June 01, 2018, replaces the Gilgit-Baltistan Self-Governance Order 2009. The order sparks valid criticisms over G-B’s struggle for autonomy. 2018 order gives the Prime Minister of Pakistan supreme authority over the administrative and legislative affairs of G-B that nobody can challenge the Prime Minister’s order.

Both the chief minister and the governor will be subservient to the Prime minister. Surprisingly, the 2018 G-B order come under criticism for limiting the judicial scope of Gilgit-Baltistan as the Chief Court of G-B and Appellate court of G-B’s decree or order will not be enforceable in the rest of the countries and in case of laws of Pakistan in conflict with laws in 2018 order, laws of Pakistan shall prevail.

Gilgit-Baltistan is standing at a critical juncture in history, any attempt to sabotage G-B’s right to self –self-determination and autonomy will spark concerns and consequences.

Centre should realize and discuss the administrative and financial matters of G-B at all political channels to address the grievances of G-B, Now all eyes are on the next elections in G-B that will be conducted in 2025 interestingly with a coalition government in the center might evolve a political landscape of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Significant debate may evolve over which one political party is in a better position to seize victory in G-B in the 2025 elections, if the election outcome is unusual, like what we witnessed in Pakistan general election 2024, what will be the future of the political dynamics and landscape of G-B? More importantly, federal and periphery relations will be a point to ponder debate after the elections.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email