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CPEC project: PPP vows to protect land of G-B locals

GILGIT: Pakistan Peoples Party Thursday vowed to launch a movement to ‘protect’ the land of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) which could be “illegally” snapped up for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Under the law, the land belongs to locals, but the government does not recognise that,” said PPP G-B President Amjad Hussain. He was referring to some land allotted for the CPEC project in the region.

In Diamer district of G-B, the government had already allocated a substantial piece of land for the Pakistan Army to establish its headquarters and ensure security for the multibillion dollar project.

However, the government has reportedly identified a large chunk of barren land in Gilgit and Diamer districts for CPEC-related projects.

To quell the unease surrounding the news, G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman recently said that owners of these lands would be paid as per market rates as and when a decision comes from the court.

However, this assurance was insufficient for the PPP.

“We have now decided to mobilse the masses and gather support on this crucial issue,” Hussain told reporters in Gilgit on Thursday.

In this regard, the former ruling party of the region has chalked out a plan to stage a rally in Danyor area on November 1—a date coinciding with G-B’s foundation day. He also warned of laying siege to the chief minister’s office if necessary.

“The land is like a mother to the natives and we will not let our mother go,” Hussain stressed. “Every year, we celebrate November 1 as Independence Day, but this time around we will convey our grievances to the rulers who are depriving us of our motherland.”

Hussain had replaced Mehdi Shah as president of the party’s G-B chapter after the PPP suffered a humiliating defeat in the G-B elections of 2015.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2016.

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