Police action against G-B activists denounced  

Leasing out guest houses

Islamabad Police detained over a dozen activists who had gathered outside National Press Club for a protest against leasing out 37 guest houses and tourist sites to a private tourism company.

Herald Special Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police detained over a dozen political, social activists and lawyers who had assembled to protest a contentious lease agreement between the Gilgit-Baltistan administration and Green Tourism company.

However, they were released after being detained at the Kohsar Police Station for some hours.

According to the agreement 37 motels, guest houses and tourist sites owned by public departments in Gilgit-Baltistan have been leased out to the company for a paltry amount of Rs800,000 a month for 30 years.

The police acts sparked a widespread reaction from political parties demanding their immediate release.

The Awami Workers Party (AWP) President Akhtar Hussain Advocate, General Secretary Dr Bakhshal Thalho, AWPGB chairperson Baba Jan and JKAWP Chairperson Nisar Shah Advocate in a joint statement condemned the brief detention of activists.

“The action of the Islamabad police against peaceful protesters is not just deplorable but indicative of a long-standing pattern of oppression and exploitation by the Pakistani rulers. For 76 years, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have been treated akin to colonized subjects, with their land and resources systematically seized by the security and other government organs”, the Left-wing party leaders said.

The detention of activists exercising their fundamental right to protest is a violation of their civil liberties. Instead of upholding the principles of democracy and freedom of expression, the Islamabad police have chosen to resort to brute force and intimidation tactics.

The AWP considers the lease agreement between the Gilgit-Baltistan government and a newly formed company robbing the indigenous people of their rightful resources for a pittance.

The AWP leadership emphasizes that the exploitation and humiliation of oppressed nations must be stopped and those responsible for perpetrating such injustice must be held accountable.

The AWP stands in solidarity with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in their struggle against the exploitation and demands an immediate halt to the mistreatment of the residents and the unjust seizure of their land and resources.

The Pakistani authorities must recognize the inherent rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and work towards genuine autonomy and empowerment, rather than perpetuating colonial-era tactics of subjugation and exploitation, according to the statement.

The AWP also demanded the release of progressive poet Ahmed Farhad who was picked up by security personnel from Islamabad last week.   

Meanwhile, the Gilgit-Baltistan National Workers Front leader and social media activist Anayat Baig also expressed his dismay over the police’s highhandedness. He expressed solidarity with the protesters.

“We stand united against the illicit leasing of Gilgit-Baltistan’s precious natural resources to a controversial company, a move carried out without the consent of the local population. This unjust act is a blatant attempt to dispossess us of our ancestral lands and resources. When our people exercise their constitutional right to peaceful protest, they face severe crackdowns, with government representatives labelling them as traitors or anti-national,” he asserted in a statement.

He vowed that despite this oppression and propaganda, our resolve remains unshaken. We will continue our struggle to live with dignity on our ancestral lands. Our courage and unity will not waver in the face of such injustices. We demand respect for our rights and an end to these oppressive tactics. Our fight for justice and dignity will persist, and we will not be silenced.

Karakoram National Movement (KNM) leader Taaruf Abbas in a statement described the act of suppressing peaceful protest and curbing freedom of expression as a gross violation of human rights and an affront to democratic values.

The protestors were also demanding the restoration of State Subject Rule in Gilgit-Baltistan to protect their land and natural resources. It is their fundamental right to voice their concerns and grievances, and it is unacceptable that they were met with such hostility and violence.

He said the government must respect the rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and ensure that they are not denied their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Meanwhile, the Awami Action Committee Gilgit-Baltistan has also reacted vehemently and threatened to launch a protest demonstration across Gilgit-Baltistan against what they called the elite grabbing of their land and resources. Political and youth organisations from Gilgit-Baltistan have also planned a similar protest in Karachi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Us