Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GBUM : Protest rally for rights in Baltistan

Protest rally for rights in Baltistan

Skardu— Thousands of people staged a protest rally in Roundu village of Baltistan, demanding political, economic and constitutional rights. More than that, protesters demanded international road links with Tajikistan and Ladakh. The call for protest was given by GilgitBaltistan United Movement and Open the Frontiers Movement.
“We want an end to Human Rights violations in Gilgit Baltistan. We want freedom of speech, freedom of movement and an opportunity to freely trade with neighboring countries,” GBUM chairman, Manzoor Parvana told to the gathering.
“If Punjabis of Punjab can trade with India through Wahaga, If Balochis of Baluchistan can trade with Iran, If Pashtuns of KPK can trade with Pashtuns of Afghanistan; why Baltis of Skardu cannot trade with Baltis of Ladakh? Why people of Gilgit Baltistan cannot trade with Tajikistan?” Pervana raised questions.
Syed Haider Shah Rizvi, Chief Organizer of Open the Frontiers Movement, demanded the federal government to open Skardu- Kargil road immediately so that the people of Gilgit Baltistan can look for alternative means of subsistence.
“If the federal government does not open the Skardu Kargil road, we will not shy away from marching towards Ladakh [not part of Pakistan],” Rizvi said.
Rizvi also highlighted political and constitutional deprivations that the people of the region face. He warned the government of initiating revolutionary rights moment from Roundu, if the government continues suppressing the rights of the people.
Speakers from MQM, PMLN, PTI and other parties also addressed the gathering. Speakers criticized Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Gilgit Baltistan terming it an unproductive tour with traditional rhetoric of changing the fate of the region.
It is pertinent to note that the people of Gilgit Baltistan have suffered greatly in recent years as terrorists, along Karakoram Highway, have repeatedly targeted travelers. On top of political and constitutional deprivations, the region has been left at the mercy of neighboring KPK province whose No-Objection Certificate (NOC), according to government officials in Gilgit,  is required to open or not to open the KKH for travelers. The Karakoram Highway is the only convenient access to Pakistan for the people of Gilgit Baltistan. 
Mehboob Khan has contributed to this story from Skardu, Baltistan

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