NAs to celebrate 60th I Day today
31 October 2007
The Daily Times
Gilgit: The Northern Areas (NA) of Pakistan will celebrate their 60th independence day on November 1 (today), without the constitutional status and fundamental rights of other citizens provided under the Constitution. The people of NA liberated their territory from the Dogra rule in Jammu and Kashmir on November 1, 1947 and since then have been under the administrative control of the Pakistani government. They were then ruled through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) by way of an executive order issued from time to time by the said Ministry. Under this system all existing departments including the judiciary in NA are working as attached departments according to the terms of the Federal Government Rules of Business, 1973. The Federal Ministry of KANA had bestowed a regional legislative body called the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC), which consists of 24 elected, 12 selected, six women and six technocrats, can legislate on 49 subjects with the final approval residing with the Federal Minister, who also acts as Chief Executive for NA. The people of NA demanded representation in federal institutions, the parliament, and their federal cabinet to enforce their right to access constitutional courts in Pakistan, but their voices never reached Islamabad for the last six decades and were told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs that their problem was linked with the Kashmir dispute and the region could not be declared as a de jure part of Pakistan, though the area is under the administrative control of Pakistan and was being treated as a de facto part of Pakistan. On the other hand, when they demanded that they should be given the same status as the people of Azad Kashmir, they were told that Northern Areas has no nexus with the Kashmir dispute and is a part of Pakistan. When any plebiscite is held to determine the wishes of the people of Kashmir, NA either wants to join Pakistan or India. The president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, during his visit to NA on October 23,2007, announced political reforms in NA, and decided to upgrade the existing NALC to the status of Legislative Assembly headed by a local chief executive. The proposed Assembly would have the power to prepare and pass its own budget and enact the laws under the conferred list. The political analysts of the region considered this reforms package as an attempt to appease the people of NA on a superficial level and called it a conspiracy to keep them in the constitutional limbo for an indefinite period of time.