Gilgit, May 6: The administration in Gilgit and Diamer district have decided to close the Karakoram Highway for traffic in view of a protest call given by religious parties, including Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal-Jamat and Jamat-e-Islami. Schools in Gilgit will remain closed and cellular networks will remain suspended, according to information received from the Home Department.
The protest demonstration is being organized against the “Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009”, promulgated by the PPP led coalition government, as part of the efforts to bring the Gilgit-Baltistan region in the national mainstream.
The “package” is being opposed by some religious groups on the basis of “damages” caused to the “Kashmir cause”. These religious organizations believe that giving separate identity to Gilgit-Baltistan and establishing a separate governance set-up is likely to weaken Pakistan’s stand on the Kashmir issue, to which Gilgit-Baltistan is a de-facto party.
Others oppose the stand of the religious parties, calling it the result of “sectarian insecurities and fears”.
“Indian held Kashmir has full representation in the country’s legislative structure. Azad Kashmir has its own set-up, so depriving Gilgit-Baltistan of its political rights and historical identity is illogical”, Ibrar Ahmed, an NGO worker hailing from Gilgit said commenting on the issue. He said that the government should establish rule of law and ensure transparency and uphold meritocracy to gain confidence of all quarters of the society. “Inefficiency and rampant corruption of the government has created fears and insecurities along sectarian and regional lines”, he added.
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan had historically been living in separate states and fiefdoms. They were made part of the Kashmir dispute after they had fought and won a war against the Dogra and Kashmiri invaders who had occupied the region forcefully.