NGOs demand rights for NAs
19 August 2005
Skardu: Various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have criticised the government policy of not allowing representation of Northern Areas. Mohammad Zia Mustafa, who represents the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), apprised the United Nationsí Commission on Protection of Human Rights that the people of Gilgit and Baltistan lacked representation in all decision-making forums. The chief executive, who is Pakistanís minister for Kashmir affairs and Northern Areas, is selected by parliament and is, therefore, not answerable to the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. According to Mr Mustafa, the system has resulted in unprecedented violence against minorities and other vulnerable groups. He said that tension and panic had gripped Gilgit and its suburbs since July 20 following the killing of eight people by unidentified gunmen. Earlier, five passengers of a bus were gunned down on July 17 and six other wounded on Korakoram Highway , again by unidentified gunmen. He said that socio-economic indicators of Gilgit and Baltistan in terms of health, education, gender equality, communications, power etc remained shockingly low. The NGOs demanded the setting up of a special mechanism to examine the dismal human rights situation and suggested concrete methods of redressing the grievances of the victims. The UNCPHR was urged to send a fact-finding mission to study the problems faced by the people of the two areas.