Silencing Dissent In Gilgit-Baltistan

Silencing Dissent In Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the most strategic and important regions of Pakistan. It is famous for its beautiful landscape and serenity. But due to the lack of political and economic developments the beauty of this region is of no use. The growing oppressive role of the state is causing some serious troubles for the people of this beautiful landscape. Whenever the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have raised voice for their due rights, the government instead of dealing with the growing concerns, has tried to suppress them. For the past 69 years people of this region are fighting for their fundamental rights – they still have no right to vote and they cannot sit in the Parliament and Senate of Pakistan.

It is true that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed region between India and Pakistan and is also linked directly or indirectly with the Kashmir dispute. It is evident throughout the course of history that the federal government has failed to address the political deprivations of the region. This indifferent attitude indirectly legitimates foreign conspiracies (if there are any). We are aware what Indian media, as an extension of the deep state therein, is seeking to construct from this region; a voice of rebellion against the government. And by indulging in unchecked oppression of the dissenting people in Gilgit-Baltistan, the government is doing exactly what they are looking for. Government should know the fact that by oppressing the people of this strategic region they are actually helping the foreign elements who don’t want to see the people of this region happy and prosperous.

Recently two prominent leaders of Awami Action Committee, an indigenous movement for the rights of Gilgit-Baltistan, had been arrested for demanding equal share in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and they had also launched a massive protest against the suspension of subsidy on flour in the past. The Awami Action Committee is the only inclusive forum which is fighting for the rights of its own people. It has shown great unity as people from different sects have joined hands to stand for their due rights for the first time in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan. Arresting the top leadership of this Committee is yet another terrible mistake of the government in Gilgit-Baltistan. This dangerous step against the Awami Action Committee is the epitome of oppression against the dissents in this strategic region. There will be a strong backlash from the public against this decision and government might have to face tough time in the future.

Furthermore, the people who want to sabotage peace and prosperity in this region would find a greater chance of instigating violence and rebellion against the state authorities. They would initiate propaganda through their biased media and would show the world oppression and human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan, just like they did in the past. This would send a very bad message to Indian Occupied Kashmir as well. People there have great expectations from the Government of Pakistan. But if they would see the level of oppression being carried out within Pakistan, they would be disappointed and demoralized as well. This can greatly affect the Kashmir cause. If Pakistan wants to save the Kashmir cause, it must bring peace and prosperity to all the disputed regions which are in its control. The state must empower the people of Gilgit-Baltistan so that they can also show their solidarity towards Pakistan and the Kashmir cause. The oppressive behavior of the state would otherwise change the entire dynamic and people of Gilgit-Baltistan would have to start their own struggle. Their indigenous struggle for rights may end up in losing the great Kashmir cause for which Pakistan has fought three major wars against India. It is time to rethink our oppressive policies, especially in strategically important regions like Gilgit-Baltistan.


An earlier version of this article appeared in Pamir Times and is being republished here with permission.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any other organization with which he might be associated.

Touqeer Kazmi

Author: Touqeer Kazmi

The writer is a former Member of Youth Parliament Pakistan (PILDAT) and General Secretary, Young Reformers Gilgit-Baltistan. He is studying Political Science at Government College University, Lahore.