Gilgit-Baltistan [PoK]: People in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan are taking to the streets to protest against the government’s alleged land-grabbing and heavy taxes imposed on the people.
According to reports, this protest started on the weekend as Pakistan’s powerful military was putting heavy taxes on resident land.
In GB, Pakistan has been openly misusing the ‘Khalsa Sarkar’ laws for land-grabbing purposes. The law states that the federal government can claim ‘ownership of barren/uncultivated land’ in GB, despite the local community collectively owned it.
The protestors also blamed their government is not providing them with basic amenities. Most of these rallies were held in Gilgit, Skardu, Ghizer and Hunza and reportedly attended by a large crowd despite freezing temperatures.
Protests are very common now in Pakistan as the government failed to fulfil their duties towards residents, and land grabbing-related protests are a very common issue.
As per the reports of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan fact-finding report of last year, the Khalsa Sarkar system disobeyed international human rights standards, including the ‘UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “rights to their collective bio-cultural heritage as a whole, territories, including traditional knowledge and resources and cultural and spiritual values and customary laws.
Two years back, in 2021, many protests were held in Pakistan and still, there are no law changes. This law also benefits the land mafias and powerful local people in business who are linked with mainstream political parties in Pakistan.
Pakistan residents fear that they will soon lose their land and become a minority in their land. The region feels politically powerless in the absence of a parliamentary seat because GB still needs to be a full-fledged province, despite several attempts to make it one in the recent past.
It remains to be seen how the Pakistani government will respond to the protests and whether it will take steps to address the grievances of the people in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan.