Locals took to the streets as resentment grew over the Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK.
Locals took to the streets as resentment grew over the Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK. This is the second time within a week that residents of the area have come out to protest against corrupt government policies. The Gilgit-Baltistan region was acquired by Pakistan in 1947. Since then the troubled region has suffered badly as the unstable administration has failed to provide the population with basic facilities. The region has remained in a state of conflict since 1947 and its close proximity to PoK has made matters worse. Both the regions have been neglected by the Pakistan government and have been in a sorry state of affairs, for years now.
The residents have been opposing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it has failed to provide them with any tangible benefits while exploiting their resources. China has invested over 40 billion dollars for its much ambitious 3000 km- long economic corridor to link Western China to Southern Pakistan, through a network of roads, railways and pipelines. The much talked about project is supposed to bring in a brilliant economic change in the region, but residents feel that both the involved countries have cheated them before, and pointed out that all the stakeholders weren’t consulted. Suffering from a power crisis, Pakistan draws most of its electricity from Gilgit Balistan, but the absence of even one of the power projects in the region deprives Gilgit from potential riches. Locals also feel dejected as the sheer number of chinese workers has deprived them of jobs. They believe that the CPEC is just another attempt to exploit the region. The government and the army have been forcibly acquiring the ancestral lands of the locals in the region to fulfill certain requirements for the project to succeed.
While rigged elections have caused major protests in PoK, Pakistan government’s execution of the plans of economic ties with China without consulting the residents of the region has led to a certain anger among the public against the government. The population of these regions live a harsh life with liitle or no basic facilities to avail at most times. The government is known to have ignored this resouce-rich region, even after exploiting its resources. Thus the public sees no way to profit from such an economic tie with China. They also believe that such an ambitious project would adversely affect the ecology of the region. With the thought that no good can come out of it, the public may be right in raising its voice against the political and civil atrocities that have been commited on them. First, the rigged polls and now the CPEC, the government remains to be on the wrong side of the fence, or at least the people feel so.