Gilgit-Baltistan burns as Pakistan denies basic human rights, says report

Pakistani flag

While Muslim nations around the world were practising Zakat (charity to the needy) and multiplying their acts of kindness, Pakistan has vowed to make it impossible to allow its citizens to breathe. Especially the ones that stand up against the oppression of the ruling institutions, The International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) reported.

Gilgit-Baltistan is standing on turbulent grounds facing neglect from Pakistan, while CPEC (China) is creating in-roads snatching people’s livelihood starting at the bottom of the pyramid. Over the last few months, a social uprising demanding unity with India has further sparked issues with the government.

The civil society of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is carrying out demonstrations every day to seek economic and political rights for the local people who are deprived of their basic human rights.

The protesters are seeking ordinary demands like employment, electricity, wheat, education, basically a life above destitution which Pakistan has been unable to deliver since the region was illegally captured by them in October 1947.

Now the government is trying to add a political angle to the issue because the residents have moved to criticize state policies regarding CPEC and Chinese workers, IFFRAS reported.

A fresh set of protests started in December 2022 after government bodies started crushing the movement using extreme force. This was met with equal rebellion on the part of people who are exhausted with Pakistan’s laid-back attitude when it comes to them.

Today they claim that Pakistan separated them from the freedom they enjoyed in Jammu & Kashmir to lock them up forever in a prison. The illegal occupation was not heroic, but just a political move to enjoy control of some of the world’s finest mineral and water resources. It was an act purely out of need, not sentiment for the Kashmiris.

The land-grabbing issue in the region is not news. But since last year, the Pakistan government is hell-bent on changing up the demography of the region, only this time outright publicly.

Procuring land in GB is hard due to the obligations emerging from the UN Security Council Resolution on Kashmir and some guarantees given to GB people by the state of Pakistan. Under the guise of developmental works, Pakistan slowly made its way into the region and invited China for a permanent stay, IFFRAS reported.

According to law, the land can only be used for the construction of military infrastructure. But the government has been using local politicians and goons for the procurement of land for the National Highway Authority and for the re-designing of the Karakorum highway.

Pakistan’s business giants have also taken over the tourism sector which served as the main source of income for locals. Businesses buy land in the name of locals and construct huge hotels and infrastructure that cannot be matched with the humble offerings of the GB residents.

These outsmarting tactics of the government and businessmen are not going well with people. There is a rumour that the government intends to construct residential accommodations for ex-servicemen from mainland Pakistan.

This has further fueled the sentiments of the locals who have accused Pakistan of diluting the demographics of GB by attempting incursion in their areas, IFFRAS reported.

Another huge woe is that of electricity. GB is the largest producer of electricity but its hydropower plants deliver to everyone in the nation besides them. The locals have alleged the government of stealing their assets and resources. This winter the federal government cut the power supply of GB for almost 20 hours a day.

In peak winters GB was relying on burning scrap to keep their houses warm. Later the government even increased the prices of electricity.

Chinese workers shroud all the major projects and even receive cuts while the locals, the actual land owners live in misery. People from Punjab and other provinces make quick debuts performing sub-standard work, earning interim dividends, and then running off home leaving GB’s population floating on incomplete projects, health hazards such as open mines, and so on.

In other words, Pakistan won’t let GB function on its own, nor will it develop the region, unless it’s for their personal gain. Pakistan has crossed all limits and tested the patience of the GB natives for more than seven decades. Their oppression has been tolerated for far too long, the report noted.

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