GILGIT: Revival of ties with Srinagar demanded
2 December 2003
GILGIT: The people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Srinagar should be allowed to revive their century-old relations as part of recent confidence building measures (CBMs) by Pakistan and India. This demand was made by the Gilgit-Baltistan National Alliance, a bloc of 14 political and religious parties of the Northern Areas. Speaking to media persons on Tuesday at an Eid Milan party, the alliance leaders appreciated the current peace initiative of the government which they said would definitely provide an ample opportunity to meet people across the divide, particularly in the border areas. The speakers, including alliance chief Inayatullah Shimali, Northern Areas Legislative Council speaker Haji Sahib Khan and Northern Areas Bar Council president Sherwali Khan advocate, said the people of the Northern Areas and Kashmir had closer links before the construction of the Karakoram Highway when the region was accessible only through Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. The NALC speaker flayed NAs Chief Executive Aftab Khan Sherpao for ruling out any possibility for granting Gilgit-Baltistan AJK-like status or announcing it autonomous. There was no UN resolutions regarding the region which opposed or hampered any move in granting fundamental rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, he argued. The speaker also endorsed a two-point agenda of the 14-party alliance about the NA status. The bloc demands that the people of the region be made fourth party in the Kashmir issue, and till the settlement of this issue, they may be allowed to form a self-government along the line of Azad Kashmir.