JK News Today
Jammu , September 03: Gilgit-Baltistan government has put Pakistan army on standby as the situation in the region has turned explosive after a recent wave of sectarian clashes in which the two sects have taken on each other. The clerics of the two sects have exchanged worsening level of hate speeches , which has caused an outrage and the protestors have blocked highways and crucial roads.
This has put the whole of the region at crossroads , it is now mulling its options more seriously than ever before as to when it should dispense with Pakistan and return to the place to which it belongs to originally – India .
The current spate of clashes and heightening tensions between Sunni and Shia sects has left the regional government helpless , as it cannot take any action without the approval of Pakistan army . It has resorted to suspension of internet and also asked the army to remain stand by , for it could be called-in at any time to maintain law and order.
This is a serious situation . Realizing this several embassies in Islamabad have advised their citizens not to visit GB because of the violent protests.
These protests , triggered by exchange of hate speeches by religious clerics Maulana Qazi Nisar Ahmed and Agha Baqir Al Hussaini . The two clerics have been booked for the hate speech, but that did not deter their supporters from blocking Karakoram Highway and Babusar road for three days . And the other side shuttered the business and blocked thoroughfares in the region. The clashes have placed Gilgit and Skardu districts against each other , and tensions are on rise.
These troubles in the Himalayan region of Gilgit-Baltistan , where Islamabad governs through its military might , and has it handed over to China to colonize it. The region , and its residents have been pushed into clashes to divert their attention from the real issues confronting them. They are boiling with anger as they are confronted with so many existential crises all at once .
The current phase of protests has shown that Shia-Sunni clashes have become a permanent source of tension between these two main sects of Islam. Shias are in a majority in the region , but the Sunnis who are patronized by Pakistan establishment have been calling shots . The hate speeches , delivered in August, are just a tip of the iceberg . Another feature that has come to fore , time and again, is that the restive population wants to march toward Kargil – the Shia Muslim dominated district in Ladakh , the newest union territory in the country after the erstwhile state was split into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh in 2019 , as a sequel to the abrogation of Article 370.
Their call for “ Kargil Chalo”, needs to be studied in a context. The community feels unsafe in Pakistan -ruled Gilgit-Baltistan. As the community finds its position more and more precarious in the region , they seek refuge in Kargil, where their fellow community members are not only safe ,enjoy complete religious freedom but also witness to an unprecedented spell of development, particularly after Ladakh became Union Territory in 2019 .
The GB residents are annoyed that despite Pakistan government having handed over their natural resources – water and minerals – to China , they have been deprived of their dignity as humans . The basic necessities – food, electricity, education and healthcare – have been denied to them. They are unable to see a future for themselves and new generations . Fierce protests have been held from time to time but no one has listened to their woes. Pakistan government has bartered their land and resources with China for the benefits it wants to draw from China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC) . The local sensitivities have been ignored .
Till date , ever since Pakistan annexed these territories in Himalayas blessed with unprecedented beauty and hundreds of glaciers , the people in the region have not been given land ownership rights , and they have been subjected to huge taxation . A little favour that the PPP government had done to them in 1973 – grant of subsidy on wheat too has been withdrawn.
As such the region , now sandwiched between China’s Xinjiang province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir , is feeling the heat of being administered by the county that doesn’t care for them at all . The only interest is in its natural resources.. Pakistan , with the help of China is constructing Diamer-Bhasha dam on the waters of Indus river in KP and GB region . This may turn out to be game changer for Pakistan , but for the locals of GB , it is snatching of their resources .
For G B residents , they have lost their region and its land, resources and means to survive . It is in a fix, where to go , and the only option for them seems to be to merge with India . In any case , the land and the people of the region belong to India going by the spirit of Instrument of Accession that Maharaja Hari Singh signed in October 1947 . The GB was part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that acceded to India .