Gilgit Baltistan is finally witnessing a change in its legislature and ways of governance due to the introduction of the Gilgit-Baltistan Order-2018. This initiative will mark the beginning of a new chapter for the people of Gilgit Baltistan, who have otherwise been alienated by the successive governments of Pakistan. People of this region, since independence, have been in a state of limbo, as to what their identity is. While Pakistan was gracious enough to incorporate the land into the country, they were not given the citizenship of Pakistan. This was primarily because Pakistan wanted this area to be aligned with Kashmir, so that the plebiscite would result in a greater number of people wanting to join Pakistan. As the fate of Kashmir is still pending, the people of Gilgit Baltistan have spent 70 years in a country which does not own them.
This new law, promulgated by the government of Pakistan Mulsim League Nawaz (PMLN) aims to grant back the identity that the people of the region demand. The Gilgit Baltistan Assembly will now function as all the other assemblies of the four provinces. They will have autonomy over certain decisions and they will come under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani legal system. However, while the step must be commended; there are aspects of this new initiative which cannot be ignored. A people who have spent 70 years alienated by a system do not necessarily associate with it. The people of Gilgit Baltistan, in particular, have grievances that have matured over time, and gaining back their trust would take a huge amount of effort. There is a reason why they celebrate a separate day of independence. This goes to show how deeply inherent the alienation is.
At the same time, it is a shame that opposition parties are opposing a reform that allows an individual of Gilgit Baltistan to demand his rights in any court of Pakistan and officially identify as a Pakistani. The powers granted to the GB Assembly will allow them to elect their own representatives, so that their interests can be articulated to the lawmakers of Pakistan and aggregated in a manner which satisfies both ends.