Sectarian divide in the Gilgit city seems to have reached the zenith, with two major sects choosing separate routes for commutation and transportation. The routes have been named “Route 4” and “Route 5”, figures linked with history and religious beliefs.
“Route 4” has, reportedly, been started by some members of the Ahl-e-Sunnat and it exclusively passes through Sunni majority parts of Gilgit city.
“Route 5”, on the other hand, had been started by some members of Shia community, designed to pass through Shia majority parts and provide exclusive services to the particular community.
Strange as it may seem, this is not the first incident of dividing or attempting to divide public amenities on sectarian lines. Already, several schools, hospitals and businesses have been segmented on the basis of sectarian affiliations and priorities. While the government officials refuse to accept that there are sectarian “no-go” areas in the city, in reality the people of both sects cannot dare to visit some parts of their own city out of fear for life.
Such dangerous schism kills any hope for peace and reconciliation. By literally living in silos and avoiding interactions, the communities are systematically failing all efforts aimed at forging unity and restoring peace.
One may not be able to downplay the security fears of the people belonging to both sects, but instead of pressing the government and state to provide more security the people have started building walls around themselves.These delusional walls, instead of providing security, will lead to moral, cultural and social suffocation, a situation that is unlikely to bring anything good to the society. Instead of giving protection, it will further deepen and widen the chasm and increase the vulnerability.
The residents of Gilgit city have a history of living together peacefully, despite of believing in different interpretations of Islam and there seems to be no reason why they shall not move back towards that era of harmony and peace. Peace is a cherished dream of all residents of Gilgit city and all of us want harmony and prosperity. However, nobody will be able to restore peace and harmony if people choose to live in silos.
Local people should vocally demanded of the government and administration to take notice of the situation and stop the process of systematic segmentation of the society.
The deepening and brazen process of divide is an alarm bell that shall wake the elected leader up. The GBLA needs to stand up and assert itself and prove its usefulness for the society. The Governor and Chief Minister along with an army of ministers and advisers seem to be silent spectators, as the city implodes socially, culturally and economically.
The only hope in this abysmal state of affairs might be the educated youth belonging to all sects of the society. They can be mobilized to raise voices against the forces of division and disharmony. They will have to unanimously refuse to be part of this game of divisions.