In an unprecedented event, women from Hunza a district in Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan (POGB), hit out the streets in Aliabad area against the soaring prices of wheat, consequently from the removal of subsidy. The protest was held by the Women Business Association of POGB. Notably, people across POGB are already protesting at the district level. It has been 16 days, since these protests started after the occupying government issued notification on December 26th setting new price at Rs. 36 per kg.
Rapid increase in wheat prices
Earlier, in June last year, the prices of wheat increased from Rs. 12 to Rs. 20, which has now again been increased to Rs. 36 per kg. The situation is further aggravated by the newly imposed Finance Act 2023. The protestors are arguing that the prices of basic amenities in POGB is double than in entire Pakistan, which has occupied the region. According to them, subsidy is not alms but the right of people of POGB which is provided under the UN regulations since 1970s. At the front of the protests is the Awami Action Committee of POGB, which has been vocally defending the rights of people. They argue that there must be no imposition of taxes on the people of POGB. The Kashmiris in POGB have been kept alienated from their rights and their resources have been exploited by Pakistan.
Accordingly, the electricity produced out of their resources is sold to them on the prices that are equivalent to four times the production cost, which is more than what people from Pakistan pay. This discrimination and exploitation have agitated the people. And that is why in the jaw dropping winters, the daily business are stopped, and people are out on the streets protesting the absolute colonialism of Pakistan. Seeing no way out, now the women in Hunza, have also come out to the streets to join the protesting men.
No redressal from Pakistan
Awami action Committee has been warning Pakistan and its puppet government in POGB for quite some time, but their righteous voices have gone unheard so far. Instead of taking cognizance of the seriousness of the matter, Pakistan is using the coercive measure. First, it has included the members of Awami Action Committee in Schedule 4, identifying peaceful protestors as terrorists; second, they imposed Section 144 in Gilgit to thwart the protest. And above all, it is also misusing its influence over media due to which the protest has remained out of mainstream reporting. No media house is emphatically reporting the agitation which is of key importance for the lakhs of POGB population.
So, women leaving their daily business in Hunza to hold a protest signifies that the problem faced by them is quite big and needs urgent redressal. Unfortunately, after 16 days of agitation, no constructive decision has come out.