November 2016 News
Create Space For People Of Gilgit-Baltistan: Activist Appeals To India22 November 2016
Washington DC: India must create space for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in its legislative institutions and help internationalise the matter, a leader from the region has appealed as he met BJP general-secretary Ram Madhav in the United States. During the meeting, Ram Madhav and Senge Sering, director of Gilgit-Baltistan National Congress, discussed a host of issues. 'People of Gilgit-Baltistan continue to suffer due to the absence of constitutional rights and Pakistan lacks the legal capacity to grant the locals citizenship. India therefore must create space for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in its legislative institutions and help internationalise the matter,' Mr Sering said. According to news agency PTI, a proposal to elect parliamentarians from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan also came up during the discussion. Mr Sering said since India maintains that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are its citizens, it is therefore incumbent upon the Indian government to treat the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, which is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, at par with those living in the rest of the country. At present, 24 seats are vacant in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly which are reserved for the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The two leaders also shared views on opening Indian educational and health institutions for the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Thousands of Pakistani citizens travel to India to benefit from its health and educational facilities. However, this option is not available to the residents of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, a media release on the meeting said. They also discussed the on-going violations of religious freedom and rights in Gilgit-Baltistan by the Pakistan government which recently charged hundreds of people for peacefully commemorating Imam Hussain Day in educational institutions. Talking about jailed political activists, many of whom face a life sentence, Mr Sering explained how abrogation of State Subject Rule has enabled Pakistan to illegally change the socio-economic demography affecting the local culture.