By Syed Shamsuddin
IT HAS TO be born in mind that sans its being declared part of Pakistan, GB remains a ‘Special Territory’ for all intents and purposes. Simply lending a façade of or a veneering as of a province does not in reality make it a full-fledged constitutional province at par with the rest. It is nonetheless, quite surprising that the federation has been posting legions of federal civil servants of the CSS-cadre over the years, to GB as if it were a province whilst not considering the transfer of an equivalent number of the official of GB service to the federation on the same terms as a quid pro quo. It is worth mentioning that in the case of AJK id est the other ‘Special territory’, only two senior officials of the federal i.e the chief secretary and IGP – are posted while no other officials of federal service in the hierarchy below are posted there.
Synoptically viewed, the people here in GB under these circumstances attribute their cumulative woes and pathetically sagging economic situations to their continued past neglects and non-representation in the federal decision-making bodies. As regards federal jobs, it would transpire that untill 1968, no one from GB was ever afforded the opportunity of taking up federal service – a situation that persisted until seventies save, however, that only 03 persons from GB – late Abdul Wahid Khan, Wazir Farman Ali – both senior civil judges in GB were first inducted to the federal service as Deputy Secretaries against the lateral entry scheme introduced by the Bhutto government in seventies. This was also followed by the induction of Dr Sher Zaman, a PhD, into federal service directly to the position of Deputy Secretary a year or so later. In mid-seventies however, two persons from GB qualified for the Office Management Group (OMG) preceded by still three others – one for the Police Service, the other for the Customs in 1969 and the third one for PAS groups on their qualifying the CSS in 1969 and 1972 respectively. This was followed a decade later id est in 1982 when the federal government announced a ‘Special Competitive Examination’ to be held by the FPSC for the induction a few candidates from Gilgit-Baltistan which accordingly culminated in selection and recruitment of only 03 individuals as this scribe recalls. This one-time dispensation they said was aimed at bringing an end to the feelings of deprivation among the GB people.
With the benefit of hindsight, it may be mentioned that those qualifying the special competitive examination under reference were allocated as follows: one to the Accounts Group, the other to PAS while the third one to Foreign Service as this scribe recalls. This was nonetheless; preceded by allocation of two CSS qualifiers to the PAS, still two others to the Accounts Group respectively. Put in a nutshell, this bespeaks of an uncharitable dispensation to GB in the context of total number of federal jobs which till this day remains a minuscule to be counted on fingertips. Leaving the CSS cadre positions aside, the inductions of GB youth to the general cadre posts filled through the FPSC for the above period paints a dismal picture with no one from this region having ever been allowed to take up any job in the federal ministries/divisions, attached departments and subordinate offices. This has been the case in matter of posts in lower posts in the federal jobs which may well become ascertainable from the ‘incumbency reports’ relating to these periods lying in the archives of the relevant quarters to testify to and corroborate these facts.
This in sum, is a situation that kept on compounding the deprivations and exacerbating the plight of the GB’s youth who were, ipso facto, led them to ascribe this dismal state to their having no representation in the national policy-making bodies in juxtaposition with those of the rest of the country duly represented in the parliament and allied policy-making bodies being safeguarded by their respective representatives remaining wary of their provincial regional interests to put it succinctly. Even recently, Ali Nawaz Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, was referred to by the print media on seventeenth instant as having said that planning on the part of the federal government was on the cards to allocate fill 50% posts in B.16 in the capital for appointments thereto exclusively of those having Islamabad’s domicile. The people of the economically most backward, peripheral region of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve such a munificent dispensation to address the abyss of economic backwardness of the region, at least by allocating hundred percent recruitments to B.1-16 posts created for the federal department/organizations working in GB but no action was ever been taken in their favor so far. In this backdrop, consideration of all these very facts by those at the helm of affairs compassionately, sympathetically and pragmatically, with a sheer humanistic outlook, is necessitated under the circumstance during the course of decision-making concerning GB instead of what is being termed a lackadaisical, nay, myopic approach resulting into imprudent decisions. In becomes imperative that all compensatory measures aimed at addressing the continuing feelings of deprivations and simmering discontent among the GB’s youth on whom the recent decision of curtailment in the job quota under reference literally descended as a bombshell need be taken at the earliest. It is to re-emphasize that the GBians, down-to-earth Pakistanis they are, eagerly await an immediate review of the government decision regarding ‘quota of federal jobs’ to enhance the same to 4% in view of the appallingly non-existent economic resources in the area in the present landscape.
It has to be said that the insuperable economic challenges and onerous situations facing the GB primarily stem from and are the outcome of the acute mountainous geography with an extensive arid, rocky mountain ranges constituting 28000 sq miles, receiving scant rainfall outside the monsoon ambit besides the terrain offering no prospects whatsoever, in the context of broadening the region’s agrarian base obviously due to near absence of any tillable land. On the other hand, the mounting demographic pressures witnessed overtime in juxtaposition to fragmentation of the erstwhile scarce agricultural land, is something that has literally brought the mountain farming in vogue to a standstill as alluded to before.
As opposed to this, all other regions of the country including AJK and KPK falling under the area receiving monsoon rains and as such abound with vegetation creating ideal opportunities for giving a boost livestock breeding to generate incomes.
It may incidentally be mentioned that GB does not so far have any professional college let alone any university. There is no single medical/engineering college could be established here what to speak of such a facility at tertiary level. It may pertinently be mentioned that in the scheme of mountain-farming currently underway, the same having literally shrunken to the lowest tends to deprive the 98 percent of the regional population of even the subsistence-farming. Livestock-breeding or to put it animal husbandry, though playing a critical role in the mountain economy, has overtime horrifically dwindled and became literally non-existent for the above reasons. In the bygone eras when the region witnessed no horrific demographic pressures, the scarce vegetation found each valley would suffice these requirements and the people then depended on organic food.
Briefly stated, these are the economic situations that call for measures aimed at provision of alternative means of survival including maximal employability to the people.
A ‘special quota’ in matters related to GB youths’ employment in the autonomous and semi-autonomous organizations in addition to their maximal overseas employment should be planned. This is in seeing that the region having an extraordinarily hardworking and skilled workforce, has not been able to get commensurate opportunities all along in the past when compared to and in juxtaposition with other parts of the country.
Read more (part III)