Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan (POGB) seems again to be grappling with uncertainty after the occupying government issued an order to revoke the notification of December 26th, 2023, which increased the price of wheat from PKR 22 per kg to PKR 36 per kg.
The uncertainty remains around the wheat price for which the Awami Action Committee was protesting, that is, PKR 7.5 per kg. This price was in force during the starting half of 2022 before starting to increase in a piecemeal way. The uncertainty also surrounds the future course of action of the Awami Action Committee, which, after protesting for one month, made blunt announcement that the protest has entered second phase and would end only, when the 15-point Charter of Demand would be fulfilled. Lastly, the uncertainty also remains surrounding the unity of the protestors, who endured the chilling winters to yield a collective and expansive protest under the aegis of Awami Action Committee.
As far as the wheat subsidy is concerned, the order only nullifies the December 26th notification, which means that still the demand is only partially met. More concerning is the fact that there is no clear assurance that the subsidy will continue and that there will be no future notification to increase the price again after everything goes normal. Simply put, after one month of historical protests, what POGB is getting is just an all show but no substance.
Nagar ends protest
However, the committee has rejected the latest order, making it clear that Pakistan’s deceptive redressal has no effect on the people. Awami Action Committee has outrightly denied the approval to such an order and reaffirmed to continue the protest with full intensity. One of the leaders of the protest, Baba Jan has termed the new order as a ‘lollipop.’ He said that Pakistan is trying to fool the populace of POGB by an order that almost has no weightage in terms of time scope.
He highlighted the earlier incidents where these tactics of Pakistan to diffuse the protests by these hollow promises had only added to the miseries of people. Apparently, he denied any end to the ongoing protest. But, Pakistan, may have failed to fool people with the order, it has certainly introduced a division in so-far intact protest. Reports suggest that the convoy from Nagar, which was coming to participate in Gilgit, has returned after the order of revocation was issued. The march was led by Sheikh Mirza Ali, who has announced that the wheat subsidy reinstatement was their prime agenda and since it has been fulfilled, there is no need for marching towards Gilgit and rest of the demands would be put through dialogue and discussion.
While, the other regions and their protestors continue to escalate the protest until charter of demand is fulfilled. Advocate Ehsan Ali, one of the prominent leaders of Awami Action Committee has also confirmed that the protest would go on as planned. So, irrespective of whether Nagar convoy converges to Gilgit or not, the entire protest would only intensify and there remains a less possibility of an end to this protest until all the demands of POGB are met.