Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan (POGB) once again observed a complete shutdown and protest against the oppression of the occupier Pakistan. After the unsuccessful negotiations between the Awami Action Committee of POGB and the occupying government, the committee called a complete shutdown on December 1 and observed a huge protest across the region.
Awami Action Committee which has been at the forefront of the struggle against the Pakistani oppression is raising various issues that are crucial for the existence of the region and its people’s identity. Recently, Pakistan raised the price of wheat by about 7 times in six months. The wheat price, which was Pak Rs. 7.5 per kg initially, was increased to Pak Rs. 20 per kg in June and then to Pak Rs. 52 per kg recently. Later, the occupying government, operating exclusively on the orders of Pakistan, imposed a targeted subsidy in the name of easing financial burden that excluded various people of the region. This led to further aggravated differences and increased friction.
But as the negotiations failed and did not end in a fruitful outcome, Awami Action Committee has once again resorted to the protests. Accordingly, they have empasised on the Charter of Demand, a long standing righteous demand that Pakistan is trying to neglect.
Demands of Awami Action Committee
The Awami Action Committee is demanding to roll back the price rise on wheat and target subsidy. Among the various demands that the committee has put forward, one is related to CPEC. As per them, CPEC passes through the POGB for which lands of natives have been acquired rendering them economically vulnerable. And hence, they should be given royalty. Regarding the hike in tax, the committee claims that POGB is a disputed territory, so there should not be any kind of tax imposition. It argues that being a disputed territory which has its own constitution, the imposition of Federal laws is against the status of POGB.
Protestors of the action committee also questioned the exploitation of POGB resources at the hands of Pakistan. The Awami Action Committee also demanded a share of the electricity generated at the Diamar Dam for the local population. Protestors suggest that it is their resources, which are being exploited to fulfill the power demands of Pakistan. Instead of giving them their genuine share back, be it in the form of electricity or share in the profits, Pakistan is turning back on them leaving them deprived.
Among all these demands there is also an issue regarding the land laws. Pakistan is using its laws as pretext in acquiring the land, mountains, which solely belongs to the people of POGB.
Kashmiris realising the reality
Amidst the protest, the calls of moving towards Kargil were also made in some parts of the protests.
Actually, Pakistan exploited the region and kept them in delusion that they are free, and it is India that has occupied the rest of the region. But because of digitisation and internet access to the people, they have come to know that free people reside across the border, and they have been manipulated and are kept deprived for more than seven decades.
Therefore, the people in POGB were agitated for a long time. Pakistan’s filthy tactics, oppressive governance, and illegal occupation ahs only exacerbated the situation.