By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: Amanullah Khan, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) 82-year-old leader, said making Gilgit-Baltistan a constitutional part of Pakistan would be “catastrophic for the country.”
In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Amanullah said, “If G-B does become part of Pakistan, it will be synonymous to committing suicide.”
The legendary politician’s comments are vital against the backdrop of Pakistan’s attempts at changing the status of G-B in light of recommendations from a high-powered committee formed on the directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“The disputed status of G-B is accepted by three forces – India, Pakistan and the United Nations, and any unilateral change in its status and position will be tantamount to insulting the sacrifices rendered by many over the decades,”
Although Amanullah is frail and takes reprieve in the pauses between the discussion, he was resolute in his stance – a belief that landed him in prison many times in the past.
Moreover, he was also expelled from G-B twice due to his ‘controversial’ statements and viewpoint.
Amanullah who was born in Astore district of G-B in 1934 now resides in Rawalpindi. However, he rushed to Gilgit last month to dissuade people from demanding a constitutional provincial status for G-B.
“I will not let this happen till I am alive,” he said, “No one can separate G-B from Kashmir.” The seasoned politician said he gets upset when people in G-B demand a provincial status despite knowing that such an attempt would only give India a pretext to legalise its occupation of Kashmir.
Speaking about Nawaz’s silence on G-B’s status currently, Amanullah said, “I hope some sanity has prevailed.”
The JKLF leader said if Pakistan insists on changing the status of G-B, “Many voices from the EU will emerge against it.”
Nonetheless, Amanullah does support G-B’s share in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan is bound to give economic benefits to G-B in the project as the plan incorporates passing through the territory.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th, 2016.