A wave of anger has spread across towns and villages of the illegally occupied Gilgit Baltistan after the Pakistani administration launched a crackdown against the activists, rebellious political leaders and anybody who has not followed the arbitrary orders of the government.
People across the region have taken to streets, demanding the immediate release of activists who have been falsely held and have been awarded severe punishment. They carried pictures of Baba Jan, a prominent local activist who is serving a ninety-year sentence on trumped-up charges, and shouted anti-government slogans. Protestors said that the authorities have grown afraid of the increasing resistance in the region.
Amzad Hussain, a local political leader from Gilgit Baltistan said that the government of Pakistan had been exposed at the global forum for its authoritarian attitude and it was now using all strategies to gag the voice of the people.
"A number of our brothers are languishing in jail for years. Everybody knows about them. Even the United Nations has mentioned them in its report on the region. The UN Human Rights Commission report has its mention. They all know the atrocities being meted upon brothers of Gilgit Baltistan, " said Amzad.
Protests to increase in times to come
Another political activist Shabir Mayar, a leader of Awami Action Committee of Gilgit Baltistan urged the youth to remain united against the cruel establishment. He said that the government was planning to systematically eliminate the voices that posed it a challenge.
"The Bureaucrats come from Punjab and suppress people after targeting them. Trade in the area has suffered massively. Small businessmen have been deeply affected. Truly hard working people of the region are living in the state of abject poverty. We will have to come together and rise, else, slowly but certainly, they will kill us all. We will have to brace ourselves for the future," Mayar said.
Several local leaders have appealed to people to demonstrate in even large numbers in the times to come. They have also demanded the release of Baba Jan and other activists before the upcoming elections in the region.
For decades, Pakistan has been looting Gilgit Baltistan of its land and resources and has given no returns to the people. Demanding rights has seemingly become an unwritten crime in the region. Anybody who has dared to raise a voice against this atrocity has been subject to intimidation, arrest and imprisonment.