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Gojal residents threaten to boycott G-B polls, Express Tribune reported

From the desk of Express Tribune

GILGIT: Residents of Gojal Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Hunza-Nagar district have threatened to boycott elections in the region if they are not allocated an additional seat in the legislative assembly. Moreover, they have urged the government to declare Hunza as a separate district.

These demands were put forward through Gojal-Hunza Awakening Movement, a citizen-based organisation, during a news conference at Gilgit Press Club on Saturday.

Speaking on the occasion, Alwaiz Aslam, a social activist and resident of the valley, said the demand for an additional seat is justifiable and logical. “If they do not allocate an additional seat, they will be denying us adequate representation in the legislative assembly,” he said. Moreover, Aslam drew attention to a resolution passed by G-B’s legislative assembly during the previous government to declare Hunza and Nagar separate districts.

“This is our second demand which, if not fulfilled, could lead us to boycott the elections,” he added.

According to Aslam, a large number of residents are frustrated over being repeatedly denied their rights for several decades.

Compared to other parts of the region, Gojal Valley has limited representation in the legislative assembly.

Qurban Ali, another resident who is affiliated with the organisation, said the valley remains the largest administrative tehsil of G-B and is inhabited by nearly 25,000 people. “The area has one of the highest literacy rates in G-B and is inhabited by peace-loving people,” he said. “Even though we have tried to contribute to every sphere, we have received nothing in return.”

Ali added the government was planning to construct a railway track through Gojal but had not consulted residents in this regard.

Residents said Gojal Valley enjoys a strategic location as it shares borders with China and Afghanistan. They urged the regional government to reconsider its attitude towards them, saying the apathy would eventually backfire. Legislative elections in G-B will be held on June 8.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2015.

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