Life in Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK comes to standstill with complete shutter down, huge protests against wheat price hike

Gilgit-Baltistan: The lives of people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) Gilgit-Baltistan have come to a standstill with a complete shutter down and wheel-jam strike being observed against an increase in the subsidised wheat rate and other grievances across the region, as reported by Dawn.

People have been holding big protest demonstrations and rallies in all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, and hence the traffic has been suspended in all the regions.

Moreover, shops, markets, restaurants and trade centres were closed on Friday in various areas of Gilgit, Skardu, Diamer, Ghizer, Astore, Shighar, Ghanche, Kharmang, Hunza and Nagar.

The Awami Action Committee (AAC) gave the strike call, in consultation with the associations representing traders, transporters and hotel owners, according to Dawn.

However, it was the next phase of the protest that has been going on for the last month against the Gilgit-Baltistan government’s decision to raise the subsidised wheat prices.

Maryam S Khan, a researcher at the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS), Pakistan, posted on social media X, stating that the largest telecom operator of PoK, Special Communications Organization, has blocked internet services in Gilgit-Baltistan.

“As protests grow stronger over wheat subsidy issue, SCOM @hq_sco has blocked internet services in Gilgit-Baltistan,” Khan reposted on X.

Whereas, an X user shared a video of Senator Farhatullah Babar, stressing that Gilgit-Baltistan is the only region of Pakistan where people do not own their lands.

“Gilgit-Baltistan is the only region of Pakistan where people do not own their lands, Pakistan does not implement the 18th amendment in GB because after that people will become the owners of their own lands. This is an area being denied,” he said.

Meanwhile, as the protests continued, attendance in private and government offices and educational institutions remained thin owing to the unavailability of transport, hence, causing difficulties for people to purchase essential commodities and travel.

Notably, the AAC announced that marches from various areas of the region towards Gilgit and Skardu will begin today, as reported by Dawn.

Furthermore, on Friday, a large number of people participated in a protest demonstration, held at Siddiq Akbar Chowk in Chilas, the district headquarters of Diamer, after Friday prayers.

The speakers condemned the Gilgit-Baltistan government’s decision to raise the subsidised wheat rate, terming it a failure of the chief minister.

They further warned that if their demands were not fulfilled, the Karakoram Highway would be blocked, Dawn reported.

Moreover, protest rallies and demonstrations were also held in Tangir, Astore, Kharmang, Skardu, Shigar, Ghanche, Hunza, Nagar and Ghizer after Friday prayers.

However, the main demonstrations were staged at Garibagh in Gilgit and Yadgar-i-Shuhada in Skardu where thousands of people gathered for their daily, hours-long sit-in.

The AAC chief organiser, Ehsan Ali, said that GB residents had been deprived of their basic rights for the past seven decades.

“Currently, the GB people have been facing 22 hours of electricity outages, despite spending billions of rupees annually from public funds,” he said.

Amidst all these protests and demonstrations, GB Governor Syed Mehdi Shah held a meeting with President Arif Alvi in Islamabad on Friday and discussed the overall situation in the region, including wheat subsidy and other issues, as reported by Dawn.

According to a statement issued by the Presidency, the president told the governor that he had raised the issue with the caretaker prime minister and finance minister and hoped that it would be resolved soon.

(With inputs from ANI)




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