By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The political and religious groups in Gilgit-Baltistan observed a shuttersdown strike on Monday under the banner of Awami Action Committee (AAC) against the lack of share for G-B in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“We have been cheated on in the name of two economic zones,” a leader of AAC, Farooq Khan, said referring to G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman’s statements. Rehman had said G-B will have two economic zones and the activities will usher the region into prosperity. “But the reality is that no activity will take place in G-B as senators told us during the sessions.”
He said this while addressing people who had gathered for a rally in Gilgit over the issue.
The strike came days after a powerful senate committee, headed by Senator Taj Haider, visited the region to review CPEC projects.
The committee members, who met several delegations during their three-day stay in G-B, confirmed the region had no share in the CPEC plan – something that prompted AAC to protest.
AAC, an alliance of around 23 religious, nationalist and political groups, was formed in 2014 with the single objective of lowering wheat prices.
During the then Pakistan Peoples Party government, the committee got public support and it protested for 13 days in Gilgit to have its demands accepted.
In addition, ACC was also able to bring together various sectarian outfits, leading to peace in the region.
“Our strike is successful and we have sent a message that we are united against discrimination and injustice committed against us,” another leader of AAC said.
A day earlier, the committee was assured of the support from leading clerics from Sunni and Shia sects.
The AAC leaders said they will hold a sit-in and will not end it unless G-B is provided its due share.
“We are like a gateway for the project and more than 450 kilometres of our land is used for CPEC,” a leader of the committee said, adding, given the circumstances, it was strange how G-B was still not made a part of the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2016.