Massive anti-government protests have intensified over food shortage and runaway inflation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan. Several people from all walks of life in nearly all parts of the occupied regions blocked highways and burned tires to express their resentment against the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan government. Pakistan is going through an unprecedented economic crisis, which has essentially manifested in the form of a sudden shortage of flour prices. Government depots that provide subsidised wheat to citizens have been locked.
Locals in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir said that they were unable to make ends meet owing to the government’s policy failures which resulted in a sharp rise in the wheat price.
‘The government depots for flour are locked’: PoK activist
Speaking to reporters, PoK activist Amjad Ayub Mirza said, “People are out on streets because there is no food, there is no flour, and in PoJK, in one day, they have increased the price of wheat by 1,200 rupees. People are fed-up. The government depots for flour are locked. There is no flour there. People in almost every city of PoK are protesting, even students, lawyers, civil society and women are protesting.”
Meanwhile, locals have warned the government that if their issues were not resolved immediately then they will not let the administration function.
“Likewise, in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan, there have been massive public meetings organized across the region in sub-zero temperatures. They have been protesting against the land grab of private property by the government without any compensation and also against the electricity bills. There are protests against 22 hours of load shedding a day, which has completely destroyed the businesses over there and the living conditions of the people,” Amjad Ayub Mirza added.
Pakistan has misruled these regions since it illegally gained its control post-British-India partition in 1947. People here say, they have historically been treated as second-class citizens and are subjected to intimidation and cruelty if they ask for equality.
‘Pakistan has been neglecting issues of their own country’: Major General Sanjay Soi (Retd)
Speaking to Republic Media Network, Defence Expert Major General Sanjay Soi (Retd) said, “People are fed with the policies of the Pakistan government. Their policies were anti-India. They were not considering the development of their own nation and the locals residing in the country. Their focus was only on sending militants to Kashmir and trying to create problems in India. The Pakistan government was trying to influence Afghanistan and trying to do things in Iran.”
Retired Major General Sanjay Soi further asserted that the common people of Pakistan are appreciating the policies of India’s present government. “They are appreciating the policies of the Modi government and the conditions in Kashmir. They are appreciating the present condition of Kashmir after Article 370 was abrogated,” he added.
Residents of Gilgit-Baltistan are protesting over the following things:
- ‘Khalsa Sarkar Tax’ has been imposed in Gilgit-Baltistan which means any barren land of Gilgit-Baltistan will be automatically transferred to the government of Gilgit-Baltistan to set up the security forces camp.
- Taxes imposed by the Pakistani government to come out of the debt that the government of Pakistan has been facing. Taxes have been levied on over 135 items of daily use including wheat flour.
The residents of Gilgit-Baltistan have reportedly alleged that the administration is snatching their land by declaring them ‘Khalsa Sarkar’, a phrase used to identify lands that the government says belong to Pakistan through its puppet government in Gilgit-Baltistan. Locals believe the law is being used to deprive them of their ancestral properties.
Locals have warned the Pakistani administration that they would not be marching toward Lahore or Islamabad this time. They will move ahead towards Ladakh and Kargil.