Balawaristan National Front
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Balawaristan National Front
|President||Nawaz Khan Naji|
|Founded||December 28, 1989|
|Ideology||Seeks autonomy for Gilgit Baltistan|
The Balawaristan National Front is a minor political party seeking the independence of Northern Area Balawaristan (officially known as the Gilgit-Baltistan) located in Pakistan, as well as Chitral and Kohistan, in neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The party also claims certain regions in the Indian-Administered Kashmir, Kargil and Ladakh, as part of its historical territory. The party is represented in the 33-seat Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly by a single member, Nawaz Khan Naji.
There are no reliable indicators of its popularity, or whether it enjoys any significant political support. The party fielded two candidates in the 2009 elections for the legislative assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan - though neither candidate was elected to the 33-seat assembly, which is dominated by mainstream Pakistani parties such as PPP, PML, and JUI. However, in a special by-election in 2011, BNF founder Nawaz Khan Naji won the seat from LA-22 (Ghizar-I), with 46.4% of ballots cast in his favor. Upon taking his seat in the assembly, he undertook an oath to "remain faithful to the state of Pakistan".
Balawaristan is a historic name for the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. The party considers Baltistan a part of Balawaristan as well. The party was formed on December 28, 1989 under the Chairmanship of Nawaz Khan Naji.
In 1947, at the time of independence of Pakistan, the people of the area were predominantly Shia Muslims. However, over the years, the ethnic composition has been changed as sunni Kashmiri and other Pakistanis have settled in this area leading to discontent - although Shias remain the outright majority.
In 2009 as part of Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009, the region was granted self-rule with an elected legislature for the first time in its history, despite protests from India (which regards the region as Indian territory).
The party does not consider areas of Gilgit and Baltistan to be legally or constitutionally part of Pakistan or India. Additionally,it does not regard neighboring regions of Ladakh, or Kargil to be legitimately part of India or Pakistan.
The party asserts that, as per UNCIP resolutions, Pakistan (and India) must withdraw their forces and handover the control of the region to the people of Gilgit Baltistan. This would be done under the supervision of the United Nations, until a final settlement of the whole Jammu and Kashmir issue is reached (as per a United Nations sponsored plebiscite that would be held in both Pakistan and Indian-Administered Kashmir).
The party pointed out that the old arrangement, by which the region was directly ruled from Islamabad, was unlike that of neighboring Azad Kashmir (which was granted its own legislative assembly shortly after the first Kashmir war in 1948).
The party does not want to join India or Pakistan for religious reasons, as well as other motives. It claims that the Pakistani administration is attempting to alter the demographic profile of the area, reducing the indigenous people to a minority. In 2002, it opposed what it saw as the Pakistan government's attempts to impose Wahhabi Islam on the region's predominantly Shia population under the rule of General Pervez Musharraf.
In a letter dated November 24, 2004 party Chairman BNF (Hameed Group)Abdul Hamid Khan presented a peace proposal for Kashmir to President Musharraf and Manmohan Singh. This was however not accepted by any party.
On April 25, 2007 European Union published a report entitled 'on Kashmir: present situation and future prospects'. Section 2 of the noted the absence of democracy in Gilgit Baltistan region and in section 32 deplored the human rights violations in this region. Partly as a result of this, President Pervez Musharraf announced a package for the Northern Areas.
In 2009, the Pakistan government implemented an autonomy package for the people from Gilgit-Baltistan. This package was rejected by the Balawaristan National Front, whose spokesperson stated “It’s meant to detract the international community from the violation of human rights in this region.” The party later decided to field two candidates for the 33 member assembly, but neither was voted into power. However, the package, for the first time in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan, addressed the political grievances of the local population who had felt discriminated against as they were ineligible to vote in Pakistani elections (Pakistan regards the area as a disputed territory - and any attempts to incorporate the region into the Pakistani state would jeopardize its claim vis-a-vis India). The people of the region were granted self-rule, citizenship within Pakistan, and an elected legislature to administer the region.
In June 2015, BNF won the elections for Ghizer District beating PML-N by 92 votes. BNF collected 5,195 votes compared to PML-N of 5,102 votes. Nawaz Khan Najee was elected the CM of District.
- "'Treated By Pakistan As Virtual Slaves' (Interview of Abdul Hamid Khan)". Outlook. 28 June 2002. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- Ali, Manzoor. "Gilgit-Baltistan shocker: Nationalist candidate wins Ghizer by-poll – The Express Tribune". Tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- "Nawaz Khan Naji takes oath of GBLA membership". Pamirtimes.net. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- Shigri, Manzar (2009-11-12). "Pakistan's disputed Northern Areas go to polls". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- Gilgit-Baltistan is part of Kashmir, asserts India
- Abdul Hamid Khan, Balawaristan National Front - party profile Archived 2010-10-28 at the Wayback Machine.
- Abdul Hamid Khan, Send UN Forces to Stop Genocide of the indigenous people of Gilgit Baltistan, undated. Archived 12 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- Abdul Hamid Khan, Pakistan's heart of darkness, Asia Times, 22 August 2002.
- Balawaristan National Front, homepage, retrieved 22 August 2002. Archived 24 September 2002 at the Wayback Machine.
- UN asked to intervene on constitutional status for NAs, Daily Times (Pakistan), 2003-11-02
- "A Letter From Balwaristan". The South Asian. 24 November 2004. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008.
- on Kashmir: present situation and future prospects, European Union, 2007-04-25
- Northern Areas to have elected local govts: President okays devolution package, Dawn, 2007-10-21
- Gilgit-Baltistan package termed an eyewash, Dawn (newspaper), 2009-08-30
- Website of Balawaristan National Front
- Balawaristan Times
- The Human Rights Problem in Gilgit-Baltistan by Paul Beersmans, 2008-06-28
- We are neither Pakistanis nor Kashmiris-Interview with Nawaj Khan Naji Part 1, Rediff.com, 2004-03-15
- We are ready to fight against Pakistan-Interview with Nawaj Khan Naji Part 2. Rediff.com, 2004-03-16
- End reign of terror, deprivation in Gilgit, Baltistan, Emma Nicholson, member European Parliament, 2008-04-08