In a significant development, the occupying Pakistan Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (POGB) government has yielded to public pressure and revoked the controversial order to increase the price of wheat. The decision, initially imposed through a notification on December 26, led to widespread protests and condemnation of the Islamabad’s pawn government in POGB.
This decision comes on the heels of a statement by the Awami Action Committee, highlighting the government’s negligence and declaring that the protests, ongoing for a month, have entered a second phase. The demonstrators are not only demanding the reinstatement of the wheat subsidy but also calling for the fulfillment of a 15-point charter of demands.
Redressal of deception!
The protestors outrightly rejected any possibility of ending the protest solely on the reinstatement of the wheat subsidy. Additionally, the occupying government’s move to revert to the previous price of PKR 22 per kilogram, which was in force prior to December 26 does not fulfil the demands of protestors on wheat subsidy either. Awami Action Committee, since very beginning, has made it clear that want the reinstatement of subsidised wheat price which was in force in 2022, i.e., PKR 7.5 per KG.
So, while the Pakistani regime would portray this deception as redressal, the protestors demands are far from being met. Consequently, there seems to be little possibility of the protest ending in the near future.
Simultaneously, reports indicate that residents of Hunza, Nagar, Skardu, Ghizer, and Yasin have initiated a long march towards Gilgit. Trains from various regions of Gilgit-Baltistan are also converging at Gilgit, signifying a united front against the government’s policies.
Heated protest in chilling winters over wheat price
Continuous protests have marked the region for the past month, with Skardu witnessing demonstrations for 32 consecutive days. The situation escalated on January 26 and 27 when the entire region observed a shutdown, with protestors blocking traffic. The shutdown extended to the third day on January 28. Large demonstrations and rallies took place across the district, reflecting the residents’ dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. In one such rally yesterday, Advocate Ehsan Ali, the leader of Awami Action Committee lambasted Islamabad and reaffirmed that the struggle for the rights will continue and the rights that have been snatched from the people of POGB since past 75 years will be achieved by the ongoing protest.
The strike and shutdown, primarily against the increased subsidized wheat prices and other grievances, led to closures of shops, markets, restaurants, and various areas in Gilgit, Skardu, Diamar, Astore, Ghanche, Kharming, Hunza, and Nagar. The closure of business centres paralyzed normal life, and the non-availability of transport resulted in reduced attendance in private and government offices, as well as educational institutions.
The appointed representatives emphasized their commitment to the cause, stating that they will remain until the grievances of the past 76 years are addressed. Their demands include the restoration of the state subject role, their own flag, Prime Minister, and constitution, ultimately seeking an autonomous Gilgit-Baltistan. Large-scale rallies are converging on Gilgit city from various locations, where extensive protest demonstrations are anticipated. The Public Action Committee has announced a two-day wheel jam and shutter-down strike in the 10 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan.