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In The Occupied Territory

Tension has been mounting up in Gilgit-Baltistan ever since its separation from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). Recently, the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan, a region occupied by Pakistan as an administrative territory and constituting the northern portion of the larger Kashmir region (which has been the subject of a dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947, and between India and China from somewhat later), have started staging anti-Pakistan protests. They have blasted the Pakistani Army for trying to grab their lands in POK.

In the last week of December 2022, protests rocked in the capital city of Gilgit and surrounding areas, as people blocked convoys of the Pakistani Army, Border Guard Rangers and Frontier Core Forces. The Pakistani media reported that many of the protesters raised pro-India slogans.

Gilgit-Baltistan, surrounded by the Karakoram Mountains, was part of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir during the colonial British Era. Pakistan had occupied the territory, along with parts of Kashmir Valley in 1948 (a year after the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent). Interestingly, the Pakistani authorities placed Gilgit-Baltistan under direct control of Islamabad as Federally Administered Northern Area, instead of making the region as a part of POK.

The Pakistani authorities held the first local legislative elections in Gilgit-Baltistan in 2009. At that time, India had opposed Pakistan’s initiative. Later in 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Government to amend the Administrative Code of 2018, in order to hold provincial legislative elections there. After the Constitutional amendment, the provincial election was held in 2020. However, a section of local people demanded the annexation of Gilgit-Baltistan to POK. Now, the region is experiencing anti-Pakistan mass protests.

In a separate development, serial blasts in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province claimed hundreds of lives, including five Army personnel, on Christmas Day. In a statement, the Pakistani Army mentioned that the Armed Forces were carrying out anti-militant operations in the Kahan area of Kohlu District on December 24, 2022. The serial blasts took place in that region, in spite of the presence of Army troops.

Meanwhile, terror attacks also took place in the Baloch capital of Quetta, situated in south-west of Pakistan close to the international border with Afghanistan, on December 25, as some unidentified persons hurled grenades at a Police Post in the suburb area of the city, injuring eight people, including three Police personnel. Before that, there was a grenade blast in Quetta in which four people were severely injured. Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, condemned the attack, assuring people that his administration beefed up security in the city after the incident.

There was an explosion in Islamabad on December 23 (2022), as well. A number of people were reportedly injured in the explosion. The Pakistani Administration expressed serious concern over the series of explosions in different cities in just three days. According to sources close to the Shehbaz Sharif Government in Islamabad, foreign powers are involved in those attacks, as they are trying to destabilise the South Asian nation.

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