Widespread protests against the Pakistan Army and ISI has been sweeping across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) Gilgit Baltistan, with largescale demonstrations against the illegal land acquisition by Pakistani security agencies. The Pakistan Army has been grabbing land from the locals for years, but this is the first time the locals have risen against the Army.
In Minawar village of Gilgit, the locals confronted the Gilgit Scouts and Pakistan Army personnel when they came to demolish the properties of the local residents. They even raised slogans against the Pakistan Army and accused them of occupying their land. One of the protesters said that Pakistan Army “is forcefully occupying our houses and agricultural land”.
“If any untoward incident occurred, the Pakistan Army will be responsible. The Chief Secretary must come to resolve this issue; else we will take this matter in front of the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” the protestor added.
Local residents have accused the Pakistan Army of systematically suppressing the people of Gilgit Baltistan for profits through the illegal occupation of their land. Another protester said, “Pakistan Army comes and attacks us. They acquire our property. We have already given 12,000 Kanal of land without any compensation. We are not ready to give them an inch more.” The residents of Minawar have received overwhelming support from all residents across Gilgit Baltistan in confronting the Pakistan Army and stopping their forceful acquisition of land. Several protestors said they were willing to take the bullet from the army but were not ready to give even an inch of their land.
One of the protesters said, “This is our ancestral land. We will not give this land without any cost”. The people of Gilgit Baltistan are facing several challenges due to meddling by Islamabad in their affairs. Anti-Pakistan sentiments are also mounting in the region due to illegal taxation, high inflation and rising unemployment. Atrocities against the PoK residents are widespread in the region.
The people in PoK are denied basic rights in the face of high inflation, and a lack of basic amenities. The demand for fundamental rights is met with the baton of Pakistan security agencies. Earlier this week, Human rights activist and chairman of United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) Shaukat Ali Kashmiri raised concerns over the deprivation of basic rights in Gilgit Baltistan.
Taking a sharp dig at Pakistan, the rights activist said that Pakistan’s policy in Gilgit Baltistan is weaved in such a manner that deprives people of their fundamental rights. Pakistan is a country that always uses religious sentiments, he added. “Gilgit Baltistan is part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and people are deprived of basic rights. It’s Pakistani policy and fashioned to deprive people and propagation against Indian involvement. Pakistani is a country that always used religious sentiments,” Shaukat Ali Kashmiri wrote on Twitter.