Awami Action Committee Gilgit-Baltistan braces for “historical long march”

Gilgit, April 21: The Awami Action Committee Gilgit-Baltistan will hold a peaceful long march today as part of their on-going agitation against the Gilgit-Baltistan government.

The decision was announced by the Awami Action Committee through a strongly worded press release in which the regional government has been lambasted for its real and imagined failures.

Awami Action Committee is expecting participation of tens of thousands of  people from all seven districts of the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Awami Action Committee is expecting participation of tens of thousands of people from all seven districts of the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Some doubt its ability to mobilize such a large number of people from all districts.

The Awami Action Committee has said that tomorrow processions and rallies from all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan will march towards Gilgit city, where they will become part of the sit-in procession at the historical Garhi Bagh Square. The AAC has called for a shutter-down strike in the city, while the wheel will not be jammed and the bread-shops and restaurants have been asked to stay open to facilitate the visitors from others parts of the region.

Meanwhile, AAC members in the Hunza-Nagar valley were making announcements on loud speakers mounted on vehicles, urging the people to come out on the streets tomorrow and join the march towards Gilgit.

Similar campaigns were also reported from all other districts of the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

The regional government has upped the ante against the Awami Action Committee, accusing it of conspiring to topple the regime and “roll-back the presidential package”, under which the Gilgit-Baltistan region had received the GB Legislative Assembly and other institutions. Key ministers and members of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council today addressed a press conference in the regional capital and they said that wheat in Gilgit-Baltistan is still cheaper than any other part of the country. They said that the people should not participate in the long march and instead help strengthening of the governance mechanism.

The Gilgit-Baltistan government has lost a lot of credibility due to massive corruption in almost ministries and departments. Hundreds of illegally hired teachers have been reinstated by the GBLA to the consternation of people who had been demanding action against corruption.

Some quarters have also been skeptical of the ability of the Awami Action Committee to stage a big long march in the region. They say that relatively lesser numbers of people attended the strikes in all districts except Skardu, where thousands of people sat-in for almost a week at the Yadgar Chowk.

However, others believe that the clergy from the Shia and Sunni sects has stood with the Awami Action Committee and they have the potential to mobilize people en-mass.

There has also been a visible split on the issue between leaders of two parties, MQM and Shia Ulema Council. Leaders like Raja Azam and Didar Ali, who are part of the government have said that their respecitve parties are not part of the strike but other leaders of the same parties have refuted their colleagues and said that they were and will remain part of the Dharna.

Whether or not the Awami Action Committee is able to pull crowds for what they are claiming to be a “historical long march” will be tested today.

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