HRCP to examine human rights in Nothern Areas
28 August 2005
The Daily Times
Lahore: A 10-member mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) departed on a four-day trip to the Northern Areas (NAs) on Sunday to examine the human rights situation and evaluate critical issues pertaining to the people of the area.The mission's objective is to observe and evaluate the human rights situation, democracy, social development and other related issues in the Northern Areas, a senior HRCP representative told Daily Times on Sunday.'The mission attaches great importance to the issues confronting the Northern Areas because they are considered the country's most neglected areas,' said the representative. He said that the people of the Northern Areas were regarded as the most deprived segment of Pakistani society. He said that some of the issues were lack of independence, democracy, social development and a proper judicial system. He said sectarianism was also on the rise there.The mission is divided into two teams comprising HRCP council members and former and present office bearers. The HRCP teams will visit Gligit, Baltistan, Skardu and other areas and meet various communities, civil society groups, the NAs Council speaker and members and government functionaries. He said this was the HRCP's second mission to the Northern Areas and it would compile its report soon after the visit. He said the first HRCP mission visited the Northern Areas in 1994 and submitted its report to the government, but to no avail. He said the second mission would suggest the government review its policy regarding the Northern Areas in the best interest of the locals. Historically, after liberating itself from Dogra Rule in 1947, the NAs first became a republic under a provisional government headed by Shah Rais Khan. After 17 days, the provincial government invited the Government of Pakistan to take control of the areas. Sardar Muhammad Alam was made first political agent of the Northern Areas in November 1947.When NAs acceded to Pakistan, the Foreign Office decided that they should be made part of the disputed area with India so that whenever a plebiscite was held in Kashmir, Gilgit Agency's votes would go in favour of Pakistan. In 1950, the control of NAs was taken from the NWFP governor and handed over to the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs. Under Article 1 of the Constitution, which defines the areas included in Pakistan, the NAs are neither part of Pakistan, nor the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).