The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued an order that will allow the top court to exercise its power in the Gilgit Baltistan (GB) region. With the court’s order, the people of GB will also enjoy the protection of their human rights, if they get violated. The order of the apex court is indeed a sigh of relief for the people of the region, and probably a welcome parting gift from the recently retired Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar.

However, it is just a step in the right direction. The end is yet to be achieved. The desirable end is to take GB out of the constitutional limbo it is in at the moment. Even after seven decades under the control of Pakistan, the fate status of GB and the fate of its people are in flux and without clarity. The recent step of the SCP and presidential orders can improve the situation at hand to a limited extent. If the government wants to bring improvement in the social, political and economic affairs of the region, then it will have to prioritise the issue of GB.

Putting the issue at the back burner by stating that it is part of the disputed territories between Pakistan and India is an argument that holds no water. The previous government had already established a committee under Sartaj Aziz that assessed that the potential impact of GB’s provincial integration on the Kashmir issue. The committee opined that integrating of GB would not affect Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. 

Despite the apex court order that it will exercise its powers in the region, the constitution does not extend the fundamental rights to the people of the valley that is known for its scenic beauty. And this ugly fact that people of the region are deprived of the basic fundamental rights even in the twenty-first century mars all the charm that nature has bestowed upon the valley.

There is virtually no opposition to granting of fundamental human rights to the people of the region and taking initiatives that can empower the locals of GB economically and politically. When no hindrance is barring the parliament, in general, and the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in particular, to move a bill in the national assembly that extends the fundamental rights to the populace of GB, why is the issue not prioritised? It is about time for PTI to amend the constitution for merging GB with Pakistan as province provisionally till the settlement of the Kashmir issue.