Gilgit, March 9: The government’s refusal to fully restore the price of wheat, by restoring subsidies, has created a huge crisis in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Awami Action Committee, a group of more than 13 political and religious organizations, has convinced major chunks of the population in Gilgit-Baltistan to observe a wheel-jam and shutter-down strike which, in effect, means that life will come to a stand still today, on the 10th of March.
The Awami Action Committee (AAC) had earlier staged mammoth protest demonstrations in the historical Gari Bagh, Gilgit city, and, later, in Danyore, in which leaders, workers and supporters of almost all political and religious groups, with the exception of PPP and PMLN, had participated in large numbers.
The Awami Action Committee, led by Advocate Ehsan Ali, is demanding restoration of subsidies on wheat and other edible items, as well as resolution of the Diamer-Bhasha land dispute and fulfilment of the demands of the people whose land and houses will be affected by construction of the huge water reservoir.
AAC has been able to successfully mobilize the public and they are claiming support of key religious leaders, like Qazi Nisar of the Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamat and Agha Rahat of the Shia community. Traders, transporters, associations of professionals and several civil society organizations in almost all district of Gilgit-Baltistan have expressed supported the cause of the Awami Action Committee. Even some key cabinet members and PPP leaders have vowed to stand with the Awami Action Committee.
Executive body of the Awami Action Committee has refused to call the protest off despite of requests by the Gilgit-Baltistan administration. The government had, symbolically, tried to nullify the protest call by announcing a reduction of 200 rupees in price of a sack of wheat. However, that reduction has been rejected by the Awami Action Committee and the organizations affiliated with the movement.