Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been following the lead of Chinese President Xi Jinping in his expansionist ideology, Imran Khan’s policy of encroachment on civil rights in the occupied regions continues as we enter 2021. However, people have started to realise the malicious intentions of the duo.
The recent victims of Imran Khan’s deceit are the people of occupied territory of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). The government of Pakistan is actively following a policy of deceptive and backdoor militarization of the region.
Activists like Senge Hasnan Sering, Sher Babu and Baba Jan had foreseen this wave of illegal occupation coming to GB and raised voices against it. The most recent intrusion in the civil rights of people of GB is bringing in the “Butchers” of Balochistan, personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) disguised as the forest rangers of the Forest and Wildlife Department of GB.
Pakistani government’s move to extend the tenure of FC deployment for another three years has already met with strong protests in GB. However, Imran Khan’s regime is bent upon taking away whatever meager chances at employment, the people of the region have.
Imran Khan hastily approved the extension of tenure of FC in GB on December 29, 2020 for another three years. This move comes in the backdrop of a rapidly increasing Chinese influence all over Pakistan, with the fencing of Gwadar gaining international attention amidst social media campaigns and outcries by the Balochs.
However, the constant pressure being built by the Chinese authorities, who are asking for a guarantee of safe passage of CPEC through GB, has made Pakistan resort to lies and trickery.
Earlier, Imran Khan visited GB on December 3, 2020 and tried to lure the local populace with fake promises of establishing two national parks in the region. With this move Pakistan’s government intends to steal 3,600 square kilometers of land in one go from the people of GB. Khan stated that the initiative will generate 5000 green jobs in GB.
The recent merger of 2400 Frontier Corps personnel with the Department of Forest and Wildlife in GB has blown the cover of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in front of people of GB.
An air of frustration and discontent has been building up against the control of GB by Islamabad, these recent courses of events have triggered the Awami Action Committee – GB (AAC-GB) to launch an all-out protest against the government. The AAC has been vocal about the disruption which CPEC has brought to the region of GB.
It has regularly pressurized the local government to provide the jobs regarding environmental conservation to the actual heirs of this heritage the youth of GB and not to FC personnel.
Frontier Corps have proved its loyalty to the regime by suppressing and assassinating the Baloch activists. The barbarity of FC’s ongoing war crimes in Balochistan is a testimony to the whole world, on how a state can wage a war against the people, which it claims to be its “own”, and quell the legitimate voices of dissent using wartime tactics.
In the previous months, the army-controlled FC has engaged in heavy shelling on the Baloch residential areas using helicopter gunships and resorted to mortar shelling on civilians. On January 2, 2021, the FC resorted to indiscriminate firing on residential areas in Bolan, Balochistan resulting in casualties and injury to villagers.
The situation in Balochistan has become so grim, that even the Pakistani Prime Minister has not been granted security clearance by the army to visit the families of Machh, who were victims of the terrorist attack by ISKP. However, there have been claims that the Prime Minister himself is not interested to visit the region and meet the mourning families as curbing terrorism and ensuring peace and stability in the region was never his priority.
The shady course of manner in which GB was illegally accorded the status of 5th province of Pakistan had already created an air of suspicion in the minds of the people.
Following that, the mass rigging of elections, which is reported by the electoral officers from the region, itself made the speculation of Islamabad’s intrusion concrete in the minds of people of GB.
The violent protest which followed the rigging of elections by PTI served as a reminder about the distrust and anger of the public against the Pakistani government. It is known fact that Pakistan is drowning in the worst financial crisis of decades owing to its own mismanagement by encroaching upon the rights of GB people.
It has leapt on the boat steered by the Chinese president Xi Jinping forgetting that the cost of this ride could be its own sovereignty despite the hints given by Chinese in the case of Gwadar.
China has already invested a huge amount of money in the CPEC but has kept lion’s share for itself, for example, the China power has reserved itself control over 70% of output of the much-opposed Diamer-Bhasha dam. The Diamer-Bhasha dam was portrayed as a promising project to bring employment to the local people. However, the opportunities generated were ultimately hijacked by Pakistan army’s commercial wing, Frontier Works Organization.
The population of GB has always been marginalized by the successive government in Pakistan. The resource rich region of GB has been on the target of the politicians from the federal administration as well as the local government.
The flourishing timber mafia which has resulted in heavy deforestation in the region of GB has been allowed multiple windows to function both legally and illegally, resulting in a huge loss to the ecology of the region. Politicians from the region have already called out the Billion Tree Tsunami Scheme as a scam intended to develop large swathes of lands into residential properties.
As reported by the newspaper Dawn, the scheme has resulted in the growth of land mafia, who have been eyeing to convert the scenic landscapes into residential properties, while endangering forests and wildlife.
Most recently, CPEC has wreaked havoc on the lives of local people in GB who have not only been denied any local opportunity but also many of them have been served eviction notices on their properties to facilitate the development of Karakoram highway (KKH) through GB. KKH is the major connecting link between China’s illegally occupied Xinjiang to Pakistan’s occupied region of GB.
The woes of the people of GB do not end here but they face harassment on a day-to-day basis, which include denying the scholarship to the students of the region. The people here get poor to negligible supply of electricity, despite GB having the largest hydroelectric potential in the region.
Moreover, the facilitation to the people from Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa to settle in the regions of GB and operate hotels and Restaurants has led to taking away the right to economic development, besides being a deliberate attempt at changing the demography of the region.
The most serious issue which the people of GB are facing right now is the loss of local jobs due to the backdoor militarization of the region. The Pakistani government is presently not seeing beyond the heavy investment of 60-billion- dollar promised under CPEC and has been highly insensitive to the people of the region, who will be at loss on all fronts.
As the saga of governmental corruption continues in GB, the locals of the region have been left hopeless and constantly under the eye of a blood-thirsty FC. The situation demands to be immediately taken in cognizance by the international human rights organizations and due intervention before the hands of the FC personnel, soaked in blood of the Balochs, dries and they start a new wave of ethnic genocide.