Protests have been going on in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), a region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, due to land grabbing and heavy taxes imposed by Pakistan’s military establishment. According to Voice of Vienna, the military has been using the “Khalsa Sarkar” laws to take over land in GB, even if the local community collectively owns it. The protests, which have been occurring regularly since 2014 when GB became the “gateway” to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), have been met with resistance from the military and civilian leadership.
The land grabbing, which benefits the land mafia and local business people, has caused resentment among the local communities in GB and led to fears of being a minority in their land due to the influx of outsiders. GB is also facing a power crisis and wheat shortage, and traders are protesting the “Gilgit-Baltistan Revenue Authority Bill 2022,” which they claim will increase taxes on traders and the general public. The protests have continued despite freezing temperatures and have been held in various parts of GB, including Skardu, Gilgit, Hunza, and Ghizer.
According to local reports, the land grabbing in GB has been going on for several years. Still, it has intensified since the start of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The CPEC is a major infrastructure project that aims to connect Gwadar Port in Pakistan to China’s Xinjiang region. GB is an important transit route for the project, which has led to an influx of outsiders into the area.
The land grabbing in GB has been met with resistance from the local community, who have been protesting regularly since 2014. The protests have been met with resistance from the military and civilian leadership, and local opposition leaders have attempted to annul the Khalsa Sarkar laws, which allow the military to take over land in GB. However, the motion was not approved due to differences among legislators.
In addition to the land grabbing, GB is also facing a power crisis and wheat shortage. The region is heavily dependent on hydroelectric power, and the power crisis has led to regular power cuts, affecting businesses and the general public. The wheat shortage has also increased the price of wheat and flour, which has further fueled the resentment of the local community.
Traders in GB are also protesting the “Gilgit-Baltistan Revenue Authority Bill 2022,” which they claim will increase taxes on traders and the general public. The bill, introduced by the government in December 2021, has led to widespread protests in GB. The traders argue that the increased taxes will make it difficult for them to do business and lead to an increase in the cost of living.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the protests in GB have continued, with large crowds gathering in various parts of the region, including Skardu, Gilgit, Hunza, and Ghizer. The protesters are demanding an end to the land grabbing and the withdrawal of the Gilgit-Baltistan Revenue Authority Bill 2022. They are also calling for the resolution of the power crisis and wheat shortage and the protection of the local community’s rights. The protesters have vowed to continue their demonstrations until their demands are met.
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