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Flag of the Balawaristan National Front

The Balawaristan National Front is a political party seeking the independence of what they call Balawaristan (officially known as the Gilgit-Baltistan) from Pakistan.

Contents

Background

Balawaristan is the historic name for the Northern Areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the party considers Baltistan a part or Balawaristan as well. The party was formed on July 30, 1992 under the Chairmanship of Nawaj Khan Naji. In 1947 at the time of partition the people of the area were predominantly Shia Muslims. However over the years the ethnic composition has been changed as non Kashmiri Pakistanis have settled in this area leading to discontent. A 2008 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Pakistan administered Kashmir, was 'Not Free'. It also criticized the Pakistani Government saying 'The appropriation of land in the Northern Areas by non-Kashmiri migrants from elsewhere in Pakistan, with the tacit encouragement of the federal government and army, has led to dwindling economic opportunities for the local population and an increase in sectarian tension between the majority Shia Muslims and a growing number of Sunnis.'[1] The same report determined that the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir was 'Partly Free'.[2]

Political Positions

The party does not consider areas of Gilgit and Baltistan to be legally or constitutionally part of Pakistan. It demands freedom for that part of the world. It does not want to join Pakistan for religious or any other reason.[3] It condemns the religious and sectarian games played against its people by Pakistan and its intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence[4] It opposes the attempts of the Pakistani administration to alter the demographic profile of the area, reducing the indigenous people to a minority. It opposes what is sees as the Pakistan government's attempts to impose Wahhabi Islam on the region's predominantly Shia population.[5]

Activities

On November 3, 2003 Nawaz Khan Najee who was then chairman of party participated in a rally demanding United Nations intervention regarding the status of Gilgit and Baltistan.[6]

In a letter dated November 24, 2004 party Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan presented a peace proposal for Kashmir to President Musharraf and Manmohan Singh. This was however not accepted by any party.[7]

In January 2005 11 people were killed in sectarian violence in Gilgit. Six of the dead belonged to a single family. Violence broke out after an attack on a local Shia leader.[8][9]

On January 3, 2005 Nawaz Khan Najee spoke at a seminar in Rawalpindi demanding an independent Bolor state.[10]

On April 25, 2007 European Union published a report entitled 'on Kashmir: present situation and future prospects'. Section 2 of the noted the absence of democracy in Gilgit Baltistan region and in section 32 deplored the human rights violations in this region.[11] Partly as a result of this President Pervez Musharraf announced a package for the Northern Areas[12]

A 2-day conference on Gilgit Baltistan was held on April 8-9, 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels under the auspices of International Kashmir Alliance. Here several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) expressed concern over the human rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan and urged the government of Pakistan to establish democratic institutions and rule of law in this area of northern Kashmir. Abdul Hamid Khan, Chairman Balawaristan National Front speaking at the same conference said "no democratically elected representative (from Gilgit Baltistan) was included when Karachi Agreement was signed between Pakistan and Muslim Conference leaders in 1949." [13]

On June 8, 2008 the present Chairman Abdul Hamid Khan who currently lives in exile telephonically addressed a gathering at Gahkuch. He reiterated the demand for independence from Pakistan and deplored the sectarian violence and accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of creating sectarian tension.[14]

In 2009 Pakistan government implemented autonomy package for the people from Gilgit-baltistan. This package was rejected as an eyewash by Balawaristan National Front whose spokesperson stated “It’s meant to detract the international community from the violation of human rights in this region.”[15]

References

External links

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