Protests are continuing across Gilgit-Baltistan, part of the occupied J&K. The protests have turned quite serious with countries sending advisories to their nationals against travelling this most scenic and yet undeveloped part under the control of Pakistan. This is the first time that people in such large numbers have come out on the streets to protest in cities and towns of the GB. This part has nothing in common with the Pakistani mainland; the G-B people are a different race and part of the civilization that thrives in Ladakh. Their language, culture, traditions and temperaments are quite different from that of Pakistanis. The area boasts of the highest literacy rates in Pakistan. This is a tribute to the people who have not been taken care of by Pakistan despite keeping it as its part for over seven decades. The tourism potential of the area is huge and yet barely any infrastructure has been set up to tap its potential.
The apparent cause behind the conflict between the administration and the majority of the Shia Muslim population is the Blasphemy law but its root lies somewhere else. The anger of the locals has been brewing over the years for reasons not so secret. The first time, the people rose against Pakistan’s misuse of their homeland was during the terrorism days of Kashmir when Pakistan was using GB as a camping site for trained terrorists. Initially, they kept mum but when mercenaries from other countries joined them the locals held a protest. However, the people of the region were devastated when the Pakistani army abandoned the young soldiers from the region who were sent to the Kargil Heights to fight India. They were first disowned as “Kashmiri Muhahideen’ and then after India launched a counterattack, they were dumped to fend for themselves. No wonder the protesters are demanding the opening of the Kargil route to show their willingness to return to people like them.