With numerous remote valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains, the people of the region consist of many different groups, being linguistically, ethnically, religiously, and racially miscellaneous.
Northern Areas PakistanGeography , Culture & Issues <br />
Northern Areas (NAs):Introduction <br /><ul><li>The Northern Areas lie between longitude 73 degrees and latitude 35 degree, spread over an area of 72, 496 sq. kms. The Northern Areas have China in the North and Afghanistan. NWFP is in the West and South. Azad Kashmir is in the south as well. In the East is the Indian-held Kashmir. Topographically the region is mountainous and hilly surrounded by three mighty mountain ranges of Karakorum, Hindokush and Himalayas with deep gorges and narrow valleys.
There are as many as 100 peaks ranging from 5,484 meters to the World’s second highest peak K-2 (8,607 meter). Over 40 glaciers, some of them biggest outside the polar region have also been identified. Once referred to as Bam-e-Dunya or “Roof of the World” today this part is known as Northern Areas (NAs) of Pakistan. The area is one of the most difficult terrains in the World.
The NAs is Federally Administrated with its Headquarters in Gilgit and is divided into six (6) Administrative Districts viz. Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Skardu and Ghanche. There are 6 municipalities, 13 Sub-Divisions, 20 Tehsils, 102 Union Councils and over 700 villages (mauzas).
There are 24 villages with population less than 200, 119 villages with population between 200-499, 163 villages with population between 500-999, 146 villages with population between 1000-1999, 103 villages with population between 2000-4999 and 10 villages with population more than 5000. One village is uninhabited. Some five (5) different languages are spoken in Northern Areas. The NAs have severe winter with frequent snowfall in the upper North, while during summer; the area is warm particularly along the Indus Valley in Diamer District and some parts of Gilgit.</li></li></ul><li>Introduction: Northern Languages & Ethnic Groups <br />With numerous remote valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains, the people of the region consist of many different groups, being linguistically, ethnically, religiously, and racially miscellaneous. <br /> Northern Areas Pakistan - Languages and ethnic groups. Urdu is the lingua franca of the region, understood by most inhabitants. <br /> The Shina language (with several dialects) is the language of 40% of the population, spoken mainly in Gilgit, throughout Diamer, and some parts of Ghizer. <br /> The Balti language with a similar accent, is spoken or understood most of the population of Baltistan. Minor languages spoken in the area include Wakhi spoken in upper Hunza and some villages in Ghizer, while Khowar is the major language of Ghizer. Burushaski is an isolated language spoken in Hunza, Nagir, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), some parts of Gilgit, and some villages of Punyal. <br /> Another attention-grabbing language is Domaaki, spoken by the musician clans of the region. Small pockets of Pashto speakers are found along the border with the North West Frontier Province and Afghanistan.<br />
Population & Socio-cultural Factors <br />Northern areas in Pakistan have a complex set of socio-economic and environmental factors that necessitate priorities to reflect and revise social and developmental realities. In short, the issues these areas are facing are as under: <br /><ul><li> Issues of conservation
Sustainable resource management and development
Health, Education and other up to time amenities that our age offers
Preservation of socio-cultural heritage and eco-tourism </li></ul> In the face of worsening environmental and socio-developmental issues, advocacy media initiatives are direly needed along with awareness building by civil society organization and developmental steps of government. <br />
Population & Socio-cultural Factors <br /><ul><li>According to the Population Census 1998, the total population of Northern Areas was 883,799 and growing annually at an estimated rate of 2.56%. The rural population was 85.7% whereas 14.3% lived in urban areas. Currently Northern Areas Administration is projecting Population of Northern Areas to 1 million.
The literacy rate in Northern Areas is 24.17% with female literacy rate at 13.71%. The Baseline Survey conducted for the Northern Health Program in 1999 showed the infant mortality rate (IMR) 70/1000 live births. Out of the total population 48 % are under 15 years. The average age at marriage for females is 20.26 years.
The average household size for the Northern Areas as a whole is 8 persons in 1998. The main source of lighting is electricity which is used by 61 % of households. The second main source of lighting is kerosene oil which is used by 35 % of the households. The remaining 4 % use other sources for lighting. About 90% of the households use wood for cooking.
national census (1998) unfolds that, the population – all Muslim – was 870,347 but it is now estimated at 1.5 million. Gilgit is the political and administrative headquarters; other important areas include Skardu, the headquarters of the army’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI) regiment, and Diamer district, a citadel of Sunni orthodoxy in an otherwise Shia-majority region. </li></ul> <br />
Discords & Conflicts in Northern Areas <br /><ul><li>For almost two decades, the Northern Areas have been afflicted by sectarianism; in recent years Shia-Sunni violence has increased markedly. In 2005 alone, almost 100 people died, many more were injured, and property worth millions of rupees was destroyed. Even more harmful was the long-term damage to social harmony. An atmosphere of fear, hatred and suspicion pervades Gilgit, the main city, which has borne the brunt of sectarian turmoil. If the immediate catalyst of the 2005 violence was a dispute over the Islamic curriculum in school textbooks, the real causes of sectarian conflict are to be found in six decades of Pakistani misrule.
Instead of making Pakistan’s grip on the Northern Areas more secure, the denial of basic rights and representative institutions through which to express grievances has led many, particularly youth, to turn in frustration to radical sectarian groups. “The denial of rights has created bitterness, frustration and resentment, emotions that have found an outlet through bigotry and fanaticism”, said a young politician in Gilgit. The military’s reliance on Sunni jihadi groups to fight its proxy wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir has made the Northern Areas, geographically contiguous to Indian-administered Kashmir, a base and training ground for Sunni militants, fuelling in turn sectarian tensions in the Shia-majority region.
The sense of deprivation in the Northern Areas has also manifested itself, albeit less violently, in a nationalist movement that could potentially challenge Pakistan’s control over the territory. The military government has chosen to counter discord and discontent not through debate and reform but through brutal suppression. </li></li></ul><li>Discords & Conflicts in Northern Areas <br /><ul><li>The Pakistani military, the ultimate arbiter of the country’s Kashmir policy, has kept the strategically sensitive Federally Administered Northern Areas under central control for fear that even a modicum of autonomy would translate into political empowerment and demands for self-governance. For almost 60 years, Pakistan has tied political rights there and the larger issue of a constitutional identity to resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
If we examine Northern Areas (Nas) history as part of British India’s northern frontier and their association with the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, we could analyses the implications of Pakistan’s policy of linking constitutional and political status to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Examining the governance structures put in place by Islamabad, we can assess , from this point of reference, the implications of political disempowerment on political stability and sectarian violence in the region.
Pakistan’s rationale in linking the Northern Areas with Jammu and Kashmir and treating the region as part of the disputed territory is based on the premise that the overwhelming majority in the Northern Areas would vote in its favour if and when a plebiscite were held to determine Kashmir’s future. retaining the Kashmir proviso. The precedent is there and could be applied in our case as well”.
Pakistan’s approach to the Northern Areas’ constitutional status is beset with contradictions. It does not mention the region in its constitution, refusing to give it provincial or even provisional provincial status. Yet it also treats it, for practical purposes, as Pakistani territory. In 1982, three Northern Areas members were granted observer status in the Federal Advisory Council (Majlis-i-Shura), the military government-nominated, quasi-legislative body. But the fear of weakening its case on Kashmir deters Pakistan from “committing itself flatly one way or the other in regard to the finality of Gilgit Agency’s present territorial status”.</li></li></ul><li>Gender & Human Resource Development Issues <br /><ul><li>The women of the region have limited access to social sector facilities. A majority of women in the region do not get or cannot afford any special/supplementary diet during pregnancy and a large majority of children grow without ever getting a nutritious diet during the weaning period.
The Baseline Survey conducted by AbdurRahman Associates for the Northern Health Project has revealed that Acute Respiratory Tract Infection (ARI) and diarrhoea remained one of the major killers of children contributing 28% and 14% mortality respectively. Also, anaemia among women was found common.
Baseline Survey of Northern Health Project has also indicated that more than 47% women did not receive antenatal care, and Tetanus Toxoid Immunization was not provided to 38.9%.The number is extremely higher (79.3%) in district Diamer, whereas over 80% deliveries were taking place at home.
Women of the area also suffered a lot due to un-spaced and frequent births, which was also one of the major contributing factors of death among women of Northern Areas. A major reason for diseases is unsafe drinking water. Only 30 percent of the villages have access to safe water.
The labour force participation rate as a percentage of the total labour force is 29.8 percent. The highest percentage i.e. 61 percent is employed in the agriculture sectors. The un-employment rate is 16 percent as percentage of the total labour force. </li></li></ul><li>Public Health Situation <br /><ul><li>Health Services in the Northern Areas are mainly provided by the Public Sector i.e. Department of Health (DoH) Northern Areas. Functions of the Department of Health include preventive, primitive, curative and rehabilitative work. There is a serious shortage of proper health facilities in entire area, particularly outside Gilgit and Skardu (HRCP). Mother and Child Care Centers established under the World Bank loan mostly remain non-functional.
Currently it is providing health services through 353 total health facilities which include 3 District Headquarters Hospitals (DHQs), 22 Civil Hospitals, 8 Rural Health Centers, 16 Basic Health Units, 55 MCH centers, 103 Dispensaries and 146 First Aid Posts.
Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) and Marie Adelaide Foundation (MAF) are some lead contributors to the health sector of NAs There are about 15 small local NGOs, which are also engaged in the delivery of MCH services in the selected areas. These NGOs were provided financial assistance under the Northern Health Program Project.
FPAP is assisting both the Department of Health and NGOs in the supply of contraceptives and training to paramedic personnel.
The facility of drinking water, irrespective of the quality, is available to only 21.1 % of the housing units while 78.9% of the housing units still use outside source of the drinking water. </li></li></ul><li>Education <br /><ul><li>Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) reported has reported that the Northern Areas are facing a huge shortage in schools and colleges, particularly for girls. Lack of education can, no doubt, makes these areas more vulnerable to the trends of extremism and it could have degenerative effects for socio-political fiber of the region.
There are no institutions for technical education. So, the people of the areas remain not only uneducated but unemployed. It goes without saying that the existing situation of education have potential to have negative impacts on our global image and unemployed youth could become a helping hand for extremist and radical forces.
The newly created Karakoram International University is not fully functional yet. There is also a shortage of teachers. The seats reserved by the federal government for students of the Northern Areas in professional colleges have been clubbed together with the seats reserved for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is alleged that the students from FATA due to better educational opportunities get seats not in proportion to their population.
improved quality of teaching, educational materials and assessment, teacher training, developing teachers and establishing professional networks to support materials production, and training of all teachers in new assessment systems is direly needed to improve unpromising the situation in the areas. </li></li></ul><li>Other Issues <br /><ul><li>Communication & Travel: communication is among the major problems of the area because of its being mountainous. The roads need constant maintenance and are presently in disrepair. Flights in and out of Gilgit and Skardu are weather dependent and sporadic. Only PIA is operating on the Northern Areas Route and the sky should be opened for other airlines to operate on the route, which would also have a sobering effect on PIA operations. The Army (SCO) presently manages the telecommunication system and the PTCL needs to take responsibility for the area on urgent basis. (HRCP)
Women’s Rights: HRCP reports that Family Laws applicable in Pakistan had not been extended to the Northern Areas, as a result women are forced to take family matters to civil courts.
Dams and Electricity: Proposed Skardu Dam, would completely submerge Skardu City and destroy major portion of the Balti Culture. There is consensus amongst the people of Northern Areas that the Skardu Dam should not be constructed.
Language and Culture: Local languages are not being taught in schools, and locals expresses fears that they were losing relevance. For an area, with such rich and varied cultures there is little official patronage for local arts and culture. There is only one museum and numerous artefacts have been lost. </li></li></ul><li> Power99 FM <br /> Empowering the Marginalized!Extending the Outreach of Civil Society! <br />Head Office & Broadcast Station: <br />25 Jannat Arcade, Suite 12, G-11 Markaz Islamabad. <br />Ph: 051-2107761-2, Fax: 051-2107763, Cell: 0345-5299999 <br />Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.power99.com.pk<br />