Senge Hasnan Sering — activist and president of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies (IGBS) demanded that India intervene in the violation of human rights in PoK and open the Kargil border to ensure that divided families meet their ancestors in India. The IGBS is headquartered out of Washington D.C. and works for the betterment of the people of Gilgit Baltistan located in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Mr Sering is in the city to deliver lectures at IIT Powai and other educational institutes. Speaking to The Asian Age on Thursday Mr Sering said that if the Indian government did not insist on making the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan permanent, the people would be in favour of becoming part of India and not Pakistan.
“There is a feeling in Gilgit Baltistan that the region should get the status of an independent country. In an indirect way, India is responsible for this feeling. We want to be a part of India but the Indian government is considering making the LoC an international border,” said Mr Sering.
“According to Pakistan’s Political Party law, no political party can work in PoK. In Gilgit Baltistan however, all major political parties are working,” he added.
Born in Skardu in Gilgit, Mr Sering completed his studies in Pakistan and secured US citizenship in 2008. He attended a seminar on international terrorism in Jaipur before landing in Mumbai.
“Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Gilgit Baltistan on Wednesday as part of the election preparations. It is a violation of the UN pact. We do present our side to the UN but nothing has been done so far,” Mr Sering said.
Asked what would happen if the elections were held as per schedule, he replied, “The locals will take part in the election as they did in the past. The sad part is the candidates have to submit an affidavit mentioning that they will be loyal to Pakistan if elected. We don’t have the right to elect our own representatives in Pakistan’s Parliament. We don’t have a judiciary and constitutional rights. The region is run by the executive orders of the Minister for Kashmir Affairs from Islamabad. We are not Pakistani citizens as Pakistan has announced it is a disputed region.”
Mr Sering expressed concern that these things were having a negative impact on the development of the region where there were no medical, engineering or other colleges. People did not have the right to raise their voice against injustice and if anybody dared, he/she would be sentenced to life imprisonment under charges of sedition. “We are fighting for our own flag, constitution and courts. We want to get rid of Pakistan. All sections of the society, including the Shias and Sunnis are united on this issue. If the LoC is made permanent, our movement will come to an end,” he said. “If India opens up the Kargil-Skardu road, it would open up avenues for international trade,” he added.