In a significant development, the Awami Action Committee (ACC) has decided to postpone its month-long protest sit-ins and demonstrations across Pak occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (POGB) for three weeks. This decision follows assurances from the Pak backed POGB government to address their demands within the stipulated timeframe.
The ACC’s demands, outlined in a 15-point charter, include the restoration of subsidized wheat prices to the 2022 level, suspension of the GB Revenue Act 2023, withdrawal of various taxes, ensuring GB’s share in the NFC award, and providing land ownership rights to locals.
A formal announcement regarding the postponement of the protests was made today by the AAC after negotiations took place between occupying POGB government representatives and ACC delegates. Notably, the negotiations were based on the 15-point charter of demands, and key figures such as Home Minister Shams Lone, POGB Assembly Member Fatehullah Khan, and advisers to the puppet CM Eman Shah were present.
The initial response from the occupying government includes the restoration of subsidized wheat rates, reducing the cost from Rs.36 per kg to Rs. 20 per kg, and the annulment of taxes imposed through the GB Revenue Act 2023. However, these measures only address a portion of the demands of Awami Action Committee.
The puppet CM POGB, Haji Gulbar, issued a notification acknowledging the restoration of subsidized wheat rates and the annulment of certain taxes. The AAC and government representatives have agreed to continue negotiations in the next 15 days to address the remaining 13 points in the charter of demands.
In a press conference held in Gilgit, Home Minister Shams Lone, along with other representatives, announced the commitment of both parties to resolve the protesters’ demands. A 6-member cabinet committee formed earlier will engage with stakeholders and work towards resolving the remaining issues.
Massive protests had erupted across POGB in recent weeks, with a 34-day-long protest sit-in in Skardu being postponed following the restoration of subsidized rates. The protest march in district Nagar was also called off. The Gilgit protest at the Ittehad Chowk has now been called off after AAC leaders addressed the protestors on site.
ACC leaders declared the postponement a success, expressing optimism for the resolution of their demands under the agreed-upon timeline. However, they issued a warning of a massive-level protest if their demands are not met.
With these developments, POGB continues to grapple with socio-economic challenges, and the outcome of the ongoing negotiations will determine the course of the region’s future.