Silencing dissent in Gilgit-Baltistan

By Tauqeer Kazmi

Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the most strategic and important regions of Pakistan. It is famous for its beautiful landscape and serenity. But due to the lack of political and economic developments the beauty of this region is of no use. The growing oppressive role of state is causing some serious troubles for the people of this beautiful landscape. Whenever the people of Gilgit-Baltistan raised their voice for the due rights, government in spite of dealing with the growing concerns, tries to press them hard. From the past 69 years people of this region are fighting for their fundamental rights; as they still have no right to vote, and they cannot sit in the parliament and senate of Pakistan.

It is true that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed region between India and Pakistan, and it is linked directly or indirectly with the Kashmir dispute. It is evident throughout the course of history that federal government has failed to address the political deprivations of the region. This indifferent attitude indirectly legitimates foreign conspiracies (if there are any) we all know what Indian media, as an extension of the deep state there, is seeking to construct from this region; a voice of rebellion against the government. And by indulging in unchecked oppression of the dissenting people in Gilgit-Baltistan, the government is doing exactly what they are looking for. Government should know the fact that by oppressing the people of this strategic region they are actually helping the foreign elements who don’t want to see the people of this region happy and prosperous.

Recently two prominent leaders of Awami Action committee; an indigenous movement for the rights of Gilgit-Baltistan, have been arrested, because they were demanding equal share in CPEC and they also had launched a massive protest against the suspension of subsidy on flour in the past. The Awami Action Committee is the only inclusive forum which is fighting for the rights of its own people. It has shown a great unity, as people from different sects have joined hands to stand for their due rights first time in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan. Arresting the top leadership of this committee is yet another terrible mistake of the government in Gilgit-Baltistan. This dangerous step against the Awami Action Committee is the epitome of oppression against the dissents in this strategic region. There will be a strong backlash from the public against this decision, and government will face tough time in future.

Furthermore, the people who want to sabotage the peace and prosperity of this region will find a great chance of instigating violence and rebellion against the state authorities. They will start their propaganda through their biased media, and they will show the world about oppression and human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan, like they did in past. It will also send a very bad message to Indian Occupied Kashmir as well. People over there have some great expectations from government of Pakistan. But when they see the level of oppression carried out inside Pakistan, they will be disappointed and demoralised as well. It can hugely effect the Kashmir cause.  If Pakistan wants to save the Kashmir cause they have to bring peace and prosperity to the disputed regions which are in its control. They have to empower the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, so they can show their solidarity towards Pakistan and Kashmir cause as well. The oppressive behaviour of state otherwise will change the whole dynamics and people of Gilgit-Baltistan will start their own struggle. Their indigenous struggle for rights may end up in losing the great Kashmir cause for which Pakistan has fought  three major wars against India. It is time to rethink on our oppressive policies, especially in the strategically important regions like Gilgit-Baltistan.

Touqeer kazmi, from Gilgit-Baltistan is a student of political science at GC University, Lahore. 

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