ISLAMABAD: The demand for early grant of provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan has intensified as thousands of protestors on Saturday staged a protest gathering in Islamabad in favour of their demand regarding constitutional rights for GB.
The protest gathering was organized by the civil society of GB, which was also attended by representatives from political parties, students’ organizations and residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The participants held placards and national flags, chanted slogans like “Make GB province of Pakistan, GB Banega Pakistan, Pakistan Zindabad, etc”.
The protest gathering was addressed by a number of political leaders like Dr Muhammad Iqbal of PTI GB, Imtiaz Gilgiti of Diamer Youth Forum and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Vice President Haji Qurban.
Representing the caravan from Gilgit, former GB minister Dr Iqbal said that the people of GB had arrived in Islamabad while traveling from Gilgit with a hope that their longstanding demand would be taken seriously and the provision of constitutional rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan would be ensured immediately.
Muhammad Iqbal Ganche, another political leader from Baltistan region, while addressing the gathering, rejected the impression that making GB an interim constitutional province of Pakistan would have a negative impact on the Kashmir issue at the international level.
“We need to make the people understand that Gilgit-Baltistan is being given interim provincial status which would not undermine the Kashmir cause because whenever there is a referendum in Kashmir, the people of GB will also be a part of it. Therefore, we expect our brothers in Azad Kashmir to be a part of this cause and join us in overcoming our 73 years of deprivation.”
In his address, Haji Qurban Ali said, “The representation to GB in the National Assembly and Senate, as proposed by the previous government of PML-N, would reduce the sense of deprivation of the people of GB. The people of the area would continue their support to Kashmiri people.”
He also said the Supreme Court (SC), in it’s a landmark decision regarding reform in GB, also made it clear that granting provisional provincial status to GB would not affect the cause of Kashmir.
Imtiaz Gilgiti said that the federal government should not wait for the election in GB for the announcement of the provincial status as there was a complete consensus among political parties in GB regarding their demand for constitutional rights. Unanimous resolutions of GB Assembly and joint statements of All Parties Conferences held in GB were enough to know the aspiration and demand of GB, he added.
Later, PTI leader Syed Wajid Hussain Bukhari said that the ruling party has decided to grant the provincial status to GB. He criticized opposition parties for doing politics on the issue of rights to GB.
The participants of the meeting demanded from the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan that Gilgit-Baltistan be given the status of a provisional province of Pakistan as soon as possible.