Gilgit: Complete shutter-down strike was observed in Gilgit and Skardu on Monday on the call of Awami Action Committee (AAC), an alliance of 11 political parties and trade groups. The protesters are demanding resolution of the region’s constitutional issue, share in the CPEC projects, while opposing imposition of taxes in the region. They are also protesting against reduction in the quota of wheat for Gilgit-Batlistan.
The Monday strike was endorsed by traders, nationalist group, political parties, lawyers and religious parties. Members of the High Court Bar Gilgit-Baltistan also boycotted the hearings of all courts. The members of different political parties, civil society organizations and trade unions held protest rallies in Gilgit, Danyor and Skardu. ALSO WATCH
Addressing the rallies in Gilgit, Sultan Rais, Chairman Awami Action Committee GB, said that CPEC will pass through 600 kilometers area of Gilgit-Baltistan but it is unfortunate that we are not getting even a single industrial zone or any project for the development of the area.
“We do not oppose the CPEC. The people want to be at least informed about the project planned for the region, and to be taken into confidence so that they can be part of the planning process and weigh the pros and cons. We fear that GB people will only be left to count the number of trucks coming from China side and not benefit from the trade in any way.
They said that collection of income tax, general sales tax and withholding tax from the people of the region without giving them representation in the parliament was unlawful. There have been protests against the ‘illegal taxes’ for the last many years but the federal and regional governments have not taken the dissenting voices seriously so far.
Addressing a rally, nationalist leader Nawaz Khan Naji, member of GB Legislative Assembly, said that people of the region could not get their basic rights even after 69 years.
Gilgit-Baltistan suffers from a huge power crisis, mostly in Gilgit and Hunza, but ironically none of the power projects planned under CPEC are being constructed in the GB region, thus, according to some, depriving GB of potential royalties.
The protesters also demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan be given representation in the National Assembly, Senate and the National Finance Commission.