Stringer Asia Logo
Share on Google+
news of the day
in depth
GILGIT- BALTISAN, the last colony
  • gilgit baltistan pakistan protest
    gilgit baltistan pakistan protest
Massive protests broke out in Gilgit-Baltistan area in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) against the atrocities by Pakistan Army and government. The protestors have demanded the release of political prisoners and have alleged that the state machinery has been violating human rights of the local population. People across the region have taken to streets, demanding the immediate release of activists who have been falsely held and have been awarded severe punishment. They carried pictures of Baba Jan, a prominent local activist who is serving a ninety-year sentence on trumped-up charges, and shouted anti-government slogans. Protestors said that the authorities have grown afraid of the increasing resistance in the region. "The Bureaucrats come from Punjab and suppress people after targeting them. Trade in the area has suffered massively. Small businessmen have been deeply affected. Truly hard working people of the region are living in the state of abject poverty. We will have to come together and rise, else, slowly but certainly, they will kill us all. We will have to brace ourselves for the future," said one of the activists demostrating against Islamabad. And indeed for decades, Pakistan has been looting Gilgit Baltistan of its land and resources and has given no returns to the people. Demanding rights has seemingly become an unwritten crime in the region. Anybody who has dared to raise a voice against this atrocity has been subject to intimidation, arrest and imprisonment. The story goes back, as many others, to the foundation of the country. Gilgit-Baltistan, is in fact a part of the Indian Jammu and Kashmir according to New Delhi and of the Pakistan administered Kashmir according to Islamabad. Areas of Gilgit and Baltistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir are under direct and indirect control of Pakistan since 1947. Gilgit and Baltistan has been directly ruled and known as Northern Areas of Pakistan. But whereas areas of Pakistani Administered Kashmir, known as Azad Kashmir enjoyed some social and political rights, areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were denied all basic rights and were ruled with iron fist. The situation in the region is quite similar to the situation of the Balochistan region, where a pervasive sense of alienation and deprivation has infused in the people the feeling of being colonised by the state of Pakistan. The misrule and repression unleashed on the people of Balochistan by successive Pakistani governments – both military and civilian – has driven the Baloch to a point where nothing short of complete independence will satisfy their aspirations. The situation in Gilgit-Baltistan, which civil rights activists often refer to as the ‘Last Colony’ of the world, also threatens to spiral out of control unless Pakistan takes some urgent political measures that would help to keep a lid on the simmering discontent among the people of this region. Basically, Gilgit-Baltistan has been denied even the most basic civil, political, constitutional, and legal rights. Pakistan has made enormous economic and political gains from these areas since 1947 but, exactely as it happened in Baluchistan, local communities didn’t benefit at all of the so called economic development. With help of China Islamabad started many mega projects in the area which benefit both countries – China and Pakistan, and not the people of the area. Pakistan has finalised construction of Diamer Basha Dam, which is the biggest and most expensive project ever taken up by Pakistan. Even more significantly, Pakistan scrapped the state subject rules to settle Sunni Pashtuns in the area in order to dilute the majority of local Shias. Worse, state-sponsored pogroms of Shias were organised to try and keep control over the people and the territory. “09 October 2020 – 5th day of sit-in at Karakoram Highway Aliabad for the release of political prisoners in #GilgitBaltistan who have been jailed for 70-90 years since 2011 for raising voice for basic human rights. This sit-in has terminated all traffic between Pakistan & China,” tweeted Prof Sajjad Raza, Chairman of National Equality Party of Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir Gilgit Baltistan (PoJKGB). According to reports, the sit-in has terminated all traffic between Pakistan and China. Pertinently, Beijing tries to expolit the region under an unholy nexus between Pakistani authorities who have been oppressing the locals for years now. As usual in the past few years, Pakistan media was forced to ignore the voices of people of Gilgit-Baltistan as they are forced to ignore any protest in the country.
Francesca Marino