Kashmir: Unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan

Jammu & Kashmir POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

The federal government and the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) government are dealing with boiling public temperatures in the freezing weather of GB over a variety of issues that are related to the federal government after being confronted with an emerging situation in Gwadar, Waziristan, and some other regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Amjad Hussain, the head of the PPP in the G-B Assembly, believes that GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid is responsible for the movement, but he should first ask his party’s senior partners in the centre to fix societal problems. Land rights, tax reforms, an end to power outages, and a restart of wheat subsidies supplied to the region by the centre are among the requests made by the demonstrators.

The public protest, however, turns into a centre vs. GB conflict as local GB ruling party activists label the enormous protests as a centr failure and coalition party members labelled them as a cunning plan by a “puppet chief minister at Imran Khan’s demand.” Given that the GB people are united in their opposition to these issues, the state must interact with them, hear their worries, and find answers that both parties can support.

Before the protests spiral out of control, both the GB administration, led by PTI chief minister Khalid Khurshid and the Islamabad government, led by Shehbaz Sharif, should stop blaming each other and accusing each other of “hatching conspiracies against the state.” Massive rallies occurring across Gilgit-Baltistan in recent days have brought together the region’s geographically and religiously varied groups because popular demands are genuine. Suppose people have flocked to the streets in frigid temperatures, and Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid has declared his support for the Skardu demonstration.

In that case, it shows that popular outrage has real substance, and it is not only locals opposing the state agenda. There should be an investigation into the opposition’s claims that CM Khurshid signed a 15-year agreement with a private company to generate electricity, costing the GB government billions of dollars. In the same way, impartial investigators should determine whether the federal government reduced the GB’s budget and wheat allotment. Locals in Skardu and other parts of GB have been demonstrating about land reforms, taxation, wheat scarcity, and extended blackouts in the region for several days. Both the centre and the GB government should reach out to GB citizens for a democratic solution to these problems.__This is an Editorial of Daily Times today