Thu. Feb 9th, 2023

Sectarian Turmoil in Gilgit – Baltistan

Aisha Jehangir Khan

In the land where people and animals drink water from the same wells, there is a region which does not even have that privilege, as there are not enough safe fresh water wells for people and cattle to share the drops of survival.

Still, the area is marred by another problem. The volatile Gilgit Baltistan (GB) region’s main city Gilgit is yet again engulfed in sectarian bloodshed. Sectarian violence has been spreading in the region since the late 1980s. The calculated killing of 18 innocent people in Harban Nala in Kohistan is the final straw. The horrific way the passengers were identified, taken out and killed reminds me of the Bosnian war of 1991, when Muslim men and boys were similarly segregated and done away with. A similar pattern can be seen in Baluchistan. A question arises at this point: are we allowing Pakistan to passively drown in its own blood?

The people of Gilgit are used to witnessing systematic violence. However, although the hostility usually takes place in Gilgit, the repercussions are spreading widely elsewhere. While section 144, a law from the British colonial era forbidding public gatherings, is imposed in GB and a three day curfew is there to maintain law and order, the life of the most active city in the region will come to a standstill for days possibly weeks to come. People are exasperated and there has already been a fierce outcry over the possible elimination of the wheat subsidy. The Attabad lake spillway poses a possible threat to different parts of GB; we cannot afford for carnage to disturb the peace and tranquillity of this northern heaven. There is neither piety nor triumph in killing another Muslim, the sooner we realise it the better.

In the civilised world, human life is sacred. It doesn’t seem to be the case in Pakistan. The youth of Gilgit Baltistan are educated and broad-minded. It is time they reject the hatred their fathers and elders have carried throughout decades and it is upon their shoulders to finally end this vicious circle of violence.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s prompt condemnation of the horrific killing is a good omen. There couldn’t be a better time to install the promised CCTVs in the five-mile radius of Gilgit, which would greatly improve the movements of civilians and allow law enforcement agencies to better curb violence. Religious and community leaders should come out together and show solidarity in the wake of the tragic killings and the people of the region belonging to both Ahle Tashi as well as Ahle Sunnah should unite. We vitally need our Federal Government to take strict notice of the latest wave of violence. It is time the people of GB vehemently reject aggression in all forms and passionately break the cycle of violence that is harming us all, our children and our future. We are at a loss, nobody else.

The contributor is a human rights activist hailing from Diamer District of Gilgit – Baltistan. She can be reached at

1 thought on “Sectarian Turmoil in Gilgit – Baltistan

  1. Why only Shia Muslims are being butchered in Pakistan?.This is because they are real defender of Islam and Pakistan.They have a profound Islamic history in heritage.Just because they do not bow before any oppressor or tyranny.And on other side they haven’t even blow a single brick of wall by suicide attempt as others do.They haven’t target a single Mosque by sophisticated weapons or hand grenade in Pakistan.And it is because they haven’t direct a single predict against any other Muslim brother to be out of Islam.It is because they haven’t retained a bunch of dollar in the name of western-designed Jihad against any power and later caused a threat to the sovereignty of Pakistan in the form of Taliban and like minded Jihadis.These are some characteristics which Shia hasn’t and because of this they are being targeted in every corner of the country.This is there only difference with these terror groups.Though these terror groups are in numbers but the irony is a majority of them remain silence over there barbaric killings.But the question is why? This is not time to be silent but the thing is to be condemned unanimously at every forum.One of the most heinous attempt took place at Kohistan area where 18 Shia Muslims are offloaded.They are ascertained by their identification and lined up and shot down brutally.Irony is the terrorists are in Army uniform.What is this.Why our intelligence agencies in a deaf silence?.Now this is the need of time to our govt agencies to give due attention over the voices of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.What they are demanding must soon assured them otherwise they will manage their own security with the same tactics and brutality.Now they can not be neglected longerly.

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