Gilgit-Baltistan govt adds dozens of activists to the “4th Schedule” Anti-Terrorism Watch List

The Gilgit-Baltistan Home Department has added several dozen political workers, social activists and religious leaders to a watch-list called the 4th Schedule, established under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. The people put on this list, on suspicion of being involved in terrorism, or abetting terrorism, are not allowed to move out of their districts without the permission of the police. Their accounts are frozen, and their mobility is restricted because they are considered potential ‘terrorists’ and ‘saboteurs’.

In 2016, over 140 people were included in the fourth schedule.

In the list, compiled on 21st of June 2018, 44 people have been removed from the list, but several dozens of new names have been added.

Among the newly added people are Agha Ali Rizvi, who is one of the most influential clerics in the Baltistan Division; he has mobilized tens of thousands of people against the imposition of taxes, and the now suspended Govt of GB Order 2018.

Other prominent activists listed under the 4th schedule are, Manzoor Parwana (GBUM), Yawar Ali (BNF-Naji), Advocate Asif Naji (Skardu), Noor Akbar (Ghizer), Shabbir Mayar (Progressive activist), Inayat ur Rehman (Gilgit), Syed Qasim Ali Shah (Gilgit), retired Assistant Commissioner Usman (Gilgit), and Mir Nawaz Mir (Awami Action Committee), among many others.

In total 12 people from Gilgit, 7 from Ghizer, one each from Hunza, Shigar, Ghanche and Nagar, 03 from Kharmang, and 02 activists from Skardu have been included in the list.

Speaking recently during a conference, Agha Ali Rizvi and other leaders accused the GB government of using Anti-Terrorism laws to threaten, harass and intimidate critics, and political opponents. They warned the government to reconsider the list, or face a movement. The speakers also accused the bureaucracy of using the laws to silence dissent in the region.

Baltistan’s Commissioner Hamza Salik has said that the people included in the watch list are involved in ‘anti-state’ activities. He has said that the individuals on the watch list can be arrested if they don’t stop their ‘anti-state’ activities.

GBLA’s Opposition Leader Captain (R) Shafi has said that the GB government is using the Anti-Terrorism Act as a tool of vengeance. He has said that real terrorists, affiliated with banned terrorist organizations involved in sectarian killings, are being removed from the list, but activists demanding political and economic rights for Gilgit-Baltistan are being targeted.

On the other hand, the government has in the past maintained that the list is not prepared by the government, but by bureaucrats responsible for maintenance of law and order, based on reports of police department and intelligence agencies.

The updated list has been issued, with removal and addition of new names, after the United Nation’s Human Rights commissioner issued a first of its kind damning report on 14th of June. Among the many recommendations made to Pakistan in the report was one calling for release of “prison or house arrest any political activists, journalists and other civil society actors who have been convicted for peacefully expressing their opinions”.

The new list ignores the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s recommends by adding more names of political activists, critics of the government, and social leaders to the anti-terrorism watch-list.

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