- The curious working of the hybrid system
Prime Minister Imran Khan is unwilling to talk to the opposition, notwithstanding the negative consequences of the attitude for the country. Consequently the COAS and DG ISI have held a briefing for the opposition leaders about the future status of Gilgit-Baltistan. The briefing was supposed to be confidential. Federal Minister Sh Rasheed made the opposition leaders’ visit to the GHQ public to create a perception that the opposition leaders pay secret visits to the GHQ despite their criticism of the Army’s role in politics.
The over 70-years-old policy of keeping Gilgit-Baltistan out of Pakistan’s constitutional jurisdiction was based on the premise that in case of a referendum promised by the UN in Kashmir, the votes of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would go in favour of Pakistan. With the CPEC passing through the region, problems are likely to emerge if Gilgit-Baltistan’s status is left in limbo.
The best way to deal with the issue should have been for Mr Khan to himself approach the opposition to discuss his government’s stand. He gave two reasons for not attending the meeting. First, he had no need to be present in a meeting on a security-related issue which implies that the Prime Minister has no role in matters related to national security. Second, that he did not want to sit with the opposition leaders who always tried to blackmail the government to seek an NRO.
The PTI government wants quick decisions on making Gilgit-Baltistan a province of the country and using the reforms to win the Gilgit-Baltistan elections due in November. Changing the status of Gilgit-Baltistan however requires a number of constitutional amendments which can only be made through national consensus. Speaker Asad Qaiser has called a meeting of the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly tomorrow to discuss the issue. Meanwhile PML(N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb has said the Speaker has no mandate to call the meeting. PML(N) MNA Khurram Dastgir has called for a meeting of the Kashmir Committee where Foreign Office and Kashmir Ministry officials should explain the Implications of the proposed change in Gilgit-Baltistan’s status so that the move is not injurious to the Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination. Instead of the differences on the issue getting resolved, Mr Khan’s inflexibility has made them more complicated.