People in Gilgit-Baltistan continue to remain victims of police brutality and discrimination by the Pakistan government. Recently Gilgit Baltistan police, Rangers and Northern Squad jointly cracked down on the victims of Attabad Lake disaster in Hunza Valley of Gilgit Baltistan. A massive landslide in Hunza Valley on 4thJanuary 2010 had left two dozen villagers dead and displaced over 250 families.The government, however, failed to provide aid for their rehabilitation.
On August 11, 2011, when the victims were peacefully protesting against the lack of government action and payment of compensation to them the police opened fire and killed a father and son while six people sustained injuries.
The protest started after the victims tried to get compensation from a local bank but were sent back on the pretext that there was "no money in the relevant account".
"Incidents of violence are happening in Gilgit Baltistan. There is a lobby behind it that does all the planning and plotting against us. Earlier the victims of Attabad lake disaster protested in Hunza,. But they were fired upon and many people were killed. The same group that wants unrest in the region supports the violence by the government, and it wants to control power." IQBAL AHMAD ADVOCATE, Leader, Karakoram National Movement.
Gilgit Baltistan was a part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has illegally occupied it for over six decades and has used large contingents of its armed forces to maintain its stranglehold over the region.
It has given China access to Gilgit Baltistan, which has over the past decade become increasingly involved in the region both strategically and through economic investment.
With Chinese involvement in the region comes a wide array of political, security and economic sensitivities, but also a slew of environmental concerns as Chinese-funded infrastructure projects like dams, mineral exploratory activities and strategic infrastructure development worth billions of dollars that beg immediate attention.
The residents of Gilgit Baltistan have not benefited from these developments.On the other hand they are discriminated against like those affected by natural calamities who have no option but to keep running from pillar to post in search of help.
"If the government has no funds, where has the money gone that was earned by by exploiting our resources such as copper, gold and uranium. There is complete absence of legal and human rights and of a constitutional status in Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan's current role in the region is a clear violation of United Nations. The region has enough resources and it does not require any aid. Pakistan has been exploiting our resources by giving them to Chinese and other foreign companies. The people of the region have got nothing in return. Pakistan is a corrupt state." Says ABDUL HAMID KHAN Chairman, Balawaristan National Front.
Pakistan is not only discriminating against the people, but is also going after the media.
On August 20, the Gilgit Union of Journalists staged a protest demonstration against the provincial puppet government for suppressing the regional journalists.
They said the police was acting like thugs and was trying to implicate journalists in false cases.
The arrest and torture of journalists in Gilgit-Baltistan by the government clearly reflects the intention to strangle the media.
The rising incidents of the violation of human rights in Gilgit Baltistan call for immediate intervention by the international community and the rights group.