India has a responsibility towards its people living on the territories under the illegal occupation of Pakistan . It needs to break its silence on the miserable conditions of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that are part of the Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir, as they are being pushed to starvation by Islamabad . Their rights and resources have been made hostage by Pakistani government , and the latest example is the agitation of the GB people for getting ration to survive .
Yet again people in Gilgit-Baltistan , under the illegal occupation of Pakistan since 1947, is up in arms against the federal government for the past over three weeks, demanding roll back of increased what price in the region . The subsidized what which was sold at the rate of Rs 20 per kilogram now sells at Rs. 32. The people are angry and have taken to streets against this move of Pakistan government that governs the region, despite a legislative assembly being in place . The real powers lie with the Pakistan government appointed bureaucracy.
The current phase of the agitation is manifestation of decades-long suppression of the people who continue to live a life of third class citizens
This is not the only issue agitating the population of Gilgit-Baltistan .Pakistan has enacted Finance Act , 2023 , which seeks to generate revenue for the region through taxes and other measures .There is a dichotomy , which has been pointed out by the local population . Since the GB doesn’t have a representation in the National Assembly , as it is not completely aligned with Pakistan’s political system , it is opposing this move . how could a government that refuses to have their representatives in the parliament can enact laws or impose its decisions on the people .
Pakistan is exploiting the people and resources of Gilgit-Baltistan , but in return instead of undertaking any welfare measures is imposing one decision after another that inflicts poverty and repression. Now the population has become restive . The myth that their co-religionists in Pakistan would help them travel the road of progress has exploded .
According to analysts in Pakistan , like Sajjad Ahmad , faculty member at the department of social sciences and Liberal Arts , at Institute of Business Administration , Karachi , has warned Pakistan government that this is serious situation and the issue must be addressed without any delay. This prognosis is based on the accumulation of frustration of the population owing to repressive measures of the Pakistani government .
As such, there are countless issues that GB people are facing and protesting against . The region is having world’s most stunning glaciers that feed rivers of mainland Pakistan , and its waters are now being harnessed for generating power . The largest river of the region- Gilgit joins Indus river that irrigates and keeps farms alive in mainland Pakistan . . this irritates the population of the mountains that Pakistan is taking everything for free and leaving them in lurch
Pakistan has acquired a total of 32, 139 acres of land for its largest hydro-power project , of which 31, 977 is in Gilgit Baltistan and only 162 acres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa . That is more than 86 per cent of the land of the project, and the tragedy is that despite the land and water , GB is getting nothing in return. The power outages have crippled life there . They are wondering as to which class of people they have been reduced to. They believe that their rights and resources have been snatched from them.
Their feelings of frustration ascend as they hear that the government in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is providing free of cost ration to 80 crore people in the country, apart from free gas cylinders , housing to the poor . Thy curse themselves for being under the illegal occupation of Pakistan.
The government of India cannot shut its eyes to the plight of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as they are our people on our land, illegally occupied by Pakistan . this is the time for Delhi to highlight the issue at all forums, national and international . Th occasional reactions over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passing through the territory or on the visit of the foreign envoys to the land of glaciers.
Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)