By Ajmal Masood
The territory of Gilgit-Baltistan until the seventies had been comprised of clusters of autonomous princely states including Hunza and Nager. The two sovereign states had never remained under the suzerainty of Jammu and Kashmir. After the Partition of the Indian Sub-Continent, Hunza and Nager were the first states to announce their decision of accession to the federation of Pakistan unconditionally.
Some historians and experts question the accession as they argue that the two states were part of Jammu and Kashmir State. If it was so, why did in 1891 the two states resist for 20 days the British invasion of Hunza and Nager? Before the Anglo-Brusho war, the two states together defended their borders against Kashmiri Dogra forces twice.
The purpose of deconstruction of history and commenting on the G-B conundrum afresh is to rethink a new social contract between Pakistan and the people of the erstwhile states. While many movements around the world are ongoing for political autonomy Gilgit-Baltistan is the only place where pro-accession politics is being neglected.
For instance, the recent historic sit-in at Aliabad Hunza for the release of 14 political prisoners including a Leftist leader Baba Jan, who are languishing in jail for nine years was not taken seriously by the Pakistan government. For the last nine years, the families of 14 political prisoners and their supporters are longing for justice.
The authorities should take concrete measures that would mitigate the sense of alienation among the people of Hunza. As a confidence-building measure, the government should withdraw fabricated charges against Baba Jan, Iftikhar Karbalai, Aleem and other 11 prisoners.
The Pakistan government must acknowledge the important role played by the people of Hunza and Nager as they fought in the frontline against Dogra forces.
Today, Hunza is known as the best tourist destination in the world attracting hundreds of tourists and promoting a positive image in Pakistan. Sadly, the region is misruled and draconian colonial laws are used against political activists.
As mentioned that the people of Hunza and Nager voluntarily integrated their land with Pakistan.
The only option for PM Imran Khan is to give political autonomy to the former princely states. Confederacy is slightly more independent than the province and moreover, making a constitutional province of Pakistan is not possible in the parameters of international law and the Kashmir dispute.
Lastly, the majority of the population is still in favour of accession. It is now up to Pakistan to embrace the forces of accession before they turn towards secessionist mode.
Ajmal Masood is a student of political science at the Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. He is an amateur rock climber.