Srinagar: Asma Khan, the wife of independent MLA and BJP ally Sajjad Lone, on Monday evening posted on her Facebook wall a rebuttal of the Indian government’s claim that people in Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir wanted to be free of Pakistan’s rule. Herself a native of Gilgit-Baltistan, Asma Khan wrote that the people of the region wanted a merger with Pakistan, not secession from it.
Asma Khan, who is the daughter of JKLF co-founder Amanullah Khan,
wrote on Facebook (but deleted the post later) that she had visited the region twice in the past four months and was in regular touch with relatives living there. She wrote that there is no such feeling of estrangement from Pakistan as is being projected by the Indian media.
“I have never come across the kind of disenchantment and unrest depicted on the news channels in Delhi…yes there are pockets of disapproval – aren’t they everywhere? and historically/legally it’s still a disputed territory… but the last time I checked, they were agitated, sure, but not on wanting to secede but rather for being completely assimilated into Pakistan with full 5th province status – a majority of over 50% demand this …Now how these eminent analysts arrive at their whims eh … conclusions … I have no idea,” Asma Khan wrote.
Another post that Asma Khan wrote on Facebook negated the BJP-led government’s claim that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan were resisting the 3,000-km-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in which Beijing has invested over $46 billion, She wrote that “development and modernity” were visible all along the areas where this corridor is coming up.
“The only places evincing some sort of development and modernity in GB are the regions through which Karakoram highway passes,” her post read.
The CPEC will link western China to southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railway lines and pipelines. Pakistan says that the project will bring about socio-economic improvement in the impoverished region.
In another post, Asma Khan hit out at Gilgit activist Senge Hassan Sering.
Sering, according to Indian media, is based in Washington, and is the president of Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies. He backs the resistance movement in the region.
Asma Khan’s post read, “The name Senge Hassan Sering keeps turning up in all discourse on GB these days. For starters that’s not even his real name, so one can imagine the integrity of his credentials. The first time I got to know of him was at a conference in Delhi — never afterwards would I hear of him again, not in GB at least. I don’t think anyone beyond his immediate family even knows him in GB — what to talk of representation of the region.”
The Indian government is planning to invite groups from Gilgit-Baltistan for the upcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Divas next year.
The Pakistan government has rejected Gilgit-Baltistani calls for integration with Pakistan on the grounds that it would jeopardise its demands for the Kashmir issue to be resolved according to UN resolutions.