Gilgit-Baltistan tense after protests against ‘derogatory statements’ spread

GILGIT/CHILAS: Law and order situation has deteriorated in Gilgit-Baltistan after protest demonstrations starting in Chilas (Diamer) spread to other parts of the region. Protest demonstrations were also held in Upper Kohistan district.

The Karakoram Highway remained blocked in Chilas. Babusar road was also closed for traffic. Protesters also blocked roads at multiple locations in Gilgit city. Sitins continue at different locations in Gilgit city.

Protest demonstrations and sit-ins were also held in Astore district.


The protest demonstrations started in reaction to allegedly sacrilegious remarks made by Sheikh Baqir Al-Hussaini, a prominent religious scholar based in Skardu. He is accused of allegedly using derogatory remarks against religious and historical personalities.

The protesters are demanding registration of a case against the scholar and arresting him. They have vowed to keep the roads blocked till the scholar is arrested.

Gilgit-Baltistan saw a remarkable display of interfaith harmony during the recently held Muharram processions, where people from different schools of thought came together as a mark of solidarity.

The recent incident and the reactionary protest demonstrations have spread fear and panic across the region, which has a sordid history of sectarian strife that has taken hundreds of lives.


Earlier today, a delegation of elected officials and administrators met with the protesters in Chilas and convinced them to open the Karakoram Highway and let the passengers move to their destinations. The road was, however, later closed again by the protesters.

Religious scholars, political leaders and officials are continuing to talk to the protesters to open the roads.

GB Education Department has dispelled reports that educational institutions will be closed tomorrow in Gilgit city. However, there are reports that some private educational institutes will remain closed tomorrow.

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