Tuesday, February 12, 2013 – Anti-Pakistan forces including India and its foreign collaborators have made a sinister move and launched propaganda campaign to poison the minds of people of Gilgit-Baltistan by distorting history. Gilgit-Baltistan (BG) is integral part of Pakistan, and the people are as patriotic and brave as people of other regions of Pakistan. They had fought against Indian forces and were able to get the area freed from Indian Army in 1948. Of course, contradictions between various sects exist in Pakistan, and terrorists have killed people belonging to different sects. But India is trying to stir anti-Pakistan sentiments in the GB. In this context, Imtiaz Hussain, president of GB National Congress and Senge H. Sering President of Washington-based Institute of GB Studies are trying to create ill-will between people of the GB and people of other provinces. They also advocate resumption of traffic and trade across LoC (from GB to Ladakh), while opposing building of dams, expressways, railways and gas pipelines by Government of Pakistan.
But they ignore the fact that apart from Kashmir being a disputed territory, India is busy building dams on all rivers flowing into Pakistan from occupied Kashmir in violation of Indus Water Treaty to regain control of water of western rivers. This is being done under well thought-out strategy to render Pakistan’s link-canal system redundant, destroy agriculture of Pakistan, which is its mainstay, and turn Pakistan into a desert. India has plans to construct 62 dams/hydro-electric units on Rivers Chenab and Jhelum; thus enabling it to render these rivers dry by 2014. Using its clout in Afghanistan, India succeeded in convincing Karzai regime to build a dam on River Kabul and set up Kama Hydroelectric Project using 0.5MAF of Pakistan water. It offered technical assistance for the proposed project, which would have serious repercussions on the water flow in River Indus. Since the US has decided to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and has belatedly realized that without the cooperation from Pakistan, it is not possible to ensure and sustain peace in Afghanistan.
India now feels that it has no role after American and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan; hence India has increased its efforts to destabilize Pakistan through its collaborators. Sering is spreading disinformation, and is trying to create confusion about status of GB in the eyes of the GB people and the world at large. There is a perception that he has been assigned the task of creating sense of separatism and stirring feelings of dissent among the GB people. He is currently based in New Delhi and is a visiting faculty for Indian Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis (IDSA). Sering with help of Indian diplomatic cadre has managed to participate in UNHCR sessions, only to highlight (alleged) HR violations in GB. The Institute for GB Studies professes cultural, economic and environmental rights of people of GB, but actually conducts venomous propaganda against Pakistan, and is involved in creating hatred between different sects and the people belonging to different ethnicities.
But people of GB would not buy into Indian propaganda and distorted logic of anti-Pakistan, and are resolved to frustrate the pernicious designs of anti-Pakistan forces because they are as patriotic as people from other parts of Pakistan. In November 2012, Institute for Gilgit-Baltistan Studies in its testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress, called for demilitarization of Gilgit-Baltistan, what it said, with a view to promoting genuine autonomy and democracy, for re-instatement of state subject rule and people to people contact between Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan. “The US must persuade both India and Pakistan to open channels of economic and cultural activity between Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan and enable the UN to increase its role in Gilgit-Baltistan to protect the rights of natives,” said Senge Sering during a hearing by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Indigenous People of Asia.
In November 2012, the UK based think tank The Henry Jackson Society, in collaboration with the Washington based Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, held an event titled “Gilgit-Baltistan: South-Central Asia’s Socio-Economic Integration and Regional Politics” at the House of Lords. One wonders as to why Britain allows its think tanks to involve in anti-Pakistan activities. Lord Sir Clive Soley of Hammersmith had reportedly facilitated the discussion and the panel consisted of Mumtaz Khan, Executive Director of International Center for Peace and Democracy, and Senge H. Sering, President of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies. The speakers observed that revival of travel across the line of control between Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh would help reunite more than ten thousand divided family members after more than six decades. At the same time, they reckoned that it will help revive the Himalayan culture to counter rapidly growing extremism and transform the economy of the poverty-stricken disputed region by interlinking the GB with Central Asia and Ladakh, Nepal and Tibet.
Addressing on the occasion Senge H. Sering concluded: “China’s role in South Asia will increase with the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, putting excessive pressure on the land, society and resources of Gilgit-Baltistan, and that Pakistan and China should respect the concerns of the locals in this regards”. In fact, India and its strategic partners are covertly working on the policy to contain China, and they use each every ruse and subterfuge to paint China in poor light. India had also raised objection to Neelam-Jhelum hydroelectric project being constructed by China on the grounds that it was a disputed territory. China did not pay two hoots or deemed it necessary to comment on Indian pleas. Since Pakistan took the decision to construct Bhasha Dam, India persuaded the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank not to fund the project, as according to it the Northern Areas are a disputed territory. Reportedly, both banks have sought no objection from India. Nobody asks India as to why it was constructing dams in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which is indeed a disputed territory as acknowledged in UNSC resolutions.
—The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.