Home > NewsRelease > Pakistani Democracy at Peril: ISI increases interference in Gilgit-Baltistan?
Pakistani Democracy at Peril: ISI increases interference in Gilgit-Baltistan?
Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies
Washington DC, DC
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July 31, 2011

Manzoor Parwana is one of the leading politicians in Gilgit-Baltistan who opposes Pakistan's unilateral occupation of the disputed region, which is also claimed by India. He was abducted on July 28 by Pakistani security forces for raising voice for more than ten thousand Ladakhi refugees, who reside in different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, and desire reunification with their relatives in India.

This happened at the time when Pakistani foreign minister, Ms. Khar, was on her visit to India. With no realization of detention and torture of political leaders in Gilgit-Baltistan, she was lecturing India on promoting freedom of expression and political activity in Kashmir. She was also provided with the relaxed environment to join Hurriyat leaders in their demand for the right of self-determination for Kashmir; something that Pakistan categorically denies for Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan. These two occupied regions are tightly controlled and largely out of bounds, which restricts both political and international humanitarian work.

Manzoor was arrested for expressing something which adds to the insecurities of Pakistani champions of democracy and self-rule. During his speech at the annual convention of Balawaristan National Students Organization in Gilgit, which became the basis for his detention, he challenged Pakistani presence in Gilgit-Baltistan based on constitutional grounds. He stated that Pakistan lacks the sovereign rights over Gilgit-Baltistan and therefore must withdraw her troops and citizens from the region. He drew parallels between Pakistani troops stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan to Syria's presence in Lebanon and said, "Just because some elements desire to see a permanent Pakistani presence in Gilgit-Baltistan does not mean that Pakistani troops have gained the legitimacy to continue the occupation. Pakistan is violating international laws and UN resolutions on Gilgit-Baltistan, which exposes her true face viz. a viz. Kashmir issue."

For all these years, Manzoor has been critical of military's involvement in the political affairs in Gilgit-Baltistan. He was under surveillance since last few months for approaching international policy and rights organizations to garner support for Gilgit-Baltistan. In June, Manzoor was going to be the key note speaker at a conference in the European Parliament; however, he was barred from travelling abroad.

According to his attorney, Advocate Ehsan Ali, who is also the president of Gilgit-Baltistan High Court Bar Association, Manzoor has been booked for sedition and questioned for his connection with those among the Ladakhi refugees who declared a long march towards the Indian line of control in protest of Pakistani reluctance to open the LOC on humanitarian grounds. In reality, he is being punished for his networking skills to disseminate information to individuals and institutions in Europe and America.

Advocate Ehsan and others within political organizations of Gilgit-Baltistan have requested Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and Amnesty International to take immediate notice of the grave political situation in Gilgit-Baltistan and demand of Pakistani authorities to release Manzoor Parwana and respect freedom of expression and political activity in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistani civil society must realize that Pakistan's double standards on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan only make the CBMs futile and overburden rapidly depleting resources. Only the people of Pakistan and not the outsiders can force the military establishment discard its colonial era tactics and work for social and economic integration within South Asia.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Senge Sering
Group: Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies
Dateline: Washington DC, DC United States
Direct Phone: 202 689 0647
Contact Click to Contact
Other experts on these topics