LAHORE - The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly criticised the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Order 2018, saying it falls considerably short of the GB people’s expectations of being treated as full citizens of Pakistan.

In a statement issued Thursday, HRCP said, “In claiming to grant the people of GB their fundamental freedoms, the GB order has clipped their right to freedom of association and expression.”

“It has denied any Gilgit-Baltistani the right to become a chief judge of the Supreme Appellate Court or to have any say in internal security. Above all, it has disregarded people’s needs despite continual public pressure in GB to address their issues fairly and in accordance with local aspirations.”

“The continuing imprisonment of Baba Jan and his comrades over raising voice for their fundamental rights is a sore case in point. There is nothing in the GB order to protect others like Baba Jan in the future.”

“The people of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve nothing less than the same rights as other citizens of Pakistan are enjoying. Under the country’s Constitution, the GB people’s ‘loyalty’ is to the state, not to the GB Order itself or, by extension, to the head of government. That the Order gives the prime minister extraordinary powers with respect to the governance of GB will not help in its being recognised as a province.’

The HRCP has reiterated that the people of GB must be treated at par with the citizens of other provinces for any such reforms to be meaningful.