Massive protests have erupted in Pakistan Occupied Gilgit Baltistan (illegally occupied by Pakistan) against Pakistan. Thousands of people have been taking to streets in Gilgit Baltistan protesting against the atrocities by Pakistan government and Army. People across Gilgit Baltistan are demanding the immediate release of political activists who have been falsely arrested.
Gilgit-Baltistan is part of Union territory of Ladakh, Republic of India but is currently under illegal occupation of Pakistan since 28th April 1949.
The region is rich in minerals but locals live a miserable live under occupation Pakistan army. Illegal Occupation of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral region by Pakistan has acted as a curse and converted a rich diversified and historical land into poverty stricken land where even the basic human rights are denied to the residents by the Punjabi Pakistan.
Raising slogans of – Ye jo dehshatgardi hain, uske peechhe vardi hain (Pakistan Army is behind the Terrorism) – thousands of protestors have taken to streets for the past five days. Visuals showed political leaders, men, women and people from across strata taking to streets against the suppression by Punjabi Pakistan government and Pakistan Army.
A wave of anger has spread across towns and villages of the illegally occupied Gilgit Baltistan after the Pakistani administration launched a crackdown against the activists, rebellious political leaders and anybody who has not followed the arbitrary orders of the government.
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.
Related Article Paradise Turned Into Hell — Pakistan Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan.
Amzad Hussain, a local political leader from Gilgit Baltistan said that the government of Pakistan had been exposed at the global forum for its authoritarian attitude and it was now using all strategies to gag the voice of the people.
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan said that according to the United Nations, Gilgit Baltistan is part of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan has no locus standi on it. He said that Pakistan is violating the UN Resolution. Gilgit Baltistan is on boil since after Pakistan has announced to make it as its 5th province.
Protests to free Baba Jan Hunzai in Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir!
Baba Jan was sentenced to life in prison over trumped up terrorism charges. He’s a leftist climate activist & Gilgit Baltistan’s most popular leader and Pakistan’s longest serving political prisoner. His crime was denouncing injustice & state oppression.
On 4-Jan 2010, a landslide hit Attabad that killed 19 people, left 1000+ homeless, stranded 25000+ people, formed 23 KMs long lake & submerged 3 villages in Gilgit Baltistan.
Baba Jan raised voice demanded compensation and rehabilitation by the Punjabi Dominated state government for the ones affected.
On 11-Aug 2011, a protest was held by the affected families on Karakoram Highway, they blocked the highway when Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah was due to travel. To disperse the crowd and make way for Chief Minister’s convoy, police fired tear-gas & gunshots.
As a result, a protesting man & his son were killed. Instead of arresting perpetrators, Punjabi dominant state government arrested voices against state brutality including Baba Jan and 11 other activists.
In spite of eyewitnesses against police, Baba Jan Hunzai and 11 others were sentenced to life in prison.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan, politicial activists, social activists, International and National Human Rights Organisations raised voice for Baba Jan. There’s been complete silence on the state-censored media against Baba Jan’s arrest and state brutality across Gilgit Baltistan.
Today, Baba Jan & others are imprisoned in Gahkuch Jail, Gilgit Baltistan. The prisoners have suffered through intense physical and physiological torture. In Feburary 2019, Baba Jan’s health deteriorated due to multiple illnesses but he was denied access to medical treatment.
Today, on General Head Quarters Rawalpindi’s wishes, Pakistan is planning to annex Gilgit Baltistan against wishes of the people of Gilgit Baltistan. The state of Pakistan shall not make such decisions with the voices of Gilgit Baltistan serving life imprisonment on trumped charges.
Sit-in in Hunza, demanding release of Baba Jan and other political prisoners entered 5th day. The sit-in is Gilgit Baltistan’s largest public gathering in 73 years. 10000s of people of Gilgit Baltistan became voice of the voice of Gilgit Baltistan.
Hamza Shafqat is Deputy Commissioner of Pakistan capital Islamabad. Here he is present as chief guest, attending large rally of anti-Shia group. So if administrative head of capital city himself is anti-Shia then who is going to protect life, honor & rights of Shias residing there?
Bordering China, Afghanistan, India, Tajikistan and Pakistan, GB is the gateway of CPEC. Spread over an area of 72,000 square kilometres, it is more than five and half times the size of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
The Punjabi Pakistan has played political football with its people. They have been denied meaningful self-governance and fundamental rights in the name of ‘disputed territory.’ While they pay all federal taxes, they have no representation in the say of the governance of Gilgit-Baltistan and no right to vote in national elections, no representation in Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and no share in the National Finance Commission NFC. The local Legislative Assembly has no powers which are exercised by the prime minister of Pakistan who may have never even visited the area.
The shamilaat lands of the people have been taken over forcibly by the state. There are genuine apprehensions that as CPEC progresses and the true potential of the area blossoms, these lands will be distributed like melons by those known for their obsession for land grab.
Over the years, Pakistan the decades, Pakistan has changed the demography of Gilgit-Baltistan by settling Punjabis, Army Officers and their families in Gilgit Balitsitan
With a hydro potential of over 40,000 MW, its people live with 18 hours of load shedding. State resources are available for metros, for Nandipurs, for the golf courses, for doling out of scores of acres in retirement benefits to the powerful, but not for corridor projects in GB.
Denying the people of GB their basic rights and self-governance in the name of ‘disputed territory’ is the greatest fraud played on them.
When it comes to plundering their wealth and their lands, the territory is not disputed. When it comes to collecting federal taxes, customs duty, GST, central excise tax, income tax, and withholding tax, it is not disputed. But when it comes to giving rights, it becomes a ‘disputed territory’.
The 21st Amendment which set up military courts was extended to GB. But the 18th Amendment is not extended. Why? Because of fears that mineral wealth will then have to be transferred to its people. Islamabad will then no longer be able to exploit it as its CNG station or as ATM card.
Under which declaration of the UN are the fundamental rights or empowered local self-governance denied to GB? The UNCIP Resolution of August 13, 1948 calls for Local Authority till plebiscite. Local government does not mean Islamabad usurping all powers. Indeed Pakistan is violating UNICP resolutions.
Fortunately, the youth of GB are finally seeing through the falsehood and they are rising. They are asking searing questions. They openly ask that if the territory is ‘disputed’ why the CPEC should pass through it to benefit Pakistan and why Bhasha Dam is built here.
Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir administration has banned nationalists peaceful sit-in at Kohala to condemn Pakistani plans of making Gilgit Baltistan as their province. People are asking, where is freedom of expression & peaceful assembly? What basic human & political rights have people got in Pakistani Occupied Jammu & Kashmir?
If all coercive laws like the Anti-Terrorism Act and the 21st Amendment are extended to GB, why not human rights related laws, they also ask.
If citizens of Indian Jammu & Kashmir have rights as equal citizens, why not the people of GB? People of Indian J&K are eligible to become members of parliament, president and prime minister and also appointed to the highest judiciary. However people of GB cannot have the same rights in Pakistan.
We call GB a strategic area and treat its people as cannon fodder. For too long the tribal areas were similarly treated. The tribal youth have now gathered under the flag of Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and called the bluff.
The Punjabi Pakistan has forced Baloch youth to climb mountains in defiance and frustration. Time is ripe for the Gilgit-Baltistan youth also to follow Baloch brothers and get rid of Punjabi Pakistan and its exploitation.
Remember the mountains of GB are higher than that of Balochistan. Remember also the warning of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that a time comes when mountains also weep.
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