GILGIT: The residents of Deral and Tangir valleys in Diamer district continued the daytime blockade of the Karakoram Highway in Basari area for the sixth consecutive day on Wednesday against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s decision of not allowing timber transportation from Gilgit-Baltistan to other parts of the country and imposing taxes on GB goods in Kohistan district.
GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Speaker of GB Assembly Fida Mohammad Nashad, Deputy Speaker Jaffarullah Khan and cabinet members Aurangzeb Khan, Farman Ali, Ibrahim Sanai, Mohammad Shafiq, Mohammad Wakeel, Sobia Muqaddam, Fida Khan and Haider Khan attended the sit-in to support protesters.
The protesters insisted that timber owners would lose millions of rupees if the government didn’t allow them to transport wood to other areas of the country before the expiry of the timber policy in July.
GB chief minister threatens march on Islamabad if issue not resolved this month
They said the policy enforced by the federal government in 2017 allowed the sale of wood from Diamer across the country.
Former member of the GB Legislative Assembly Rehmat Khaliq said Arshad Shah of Abbottabad claimed ownership of the forest in Deral and Tangir valleys over a ‘fake’ agreement from 1917 and even got a stay order from an Abbottabad court against the transportation of timber through KP.
Minister Haider Khan said under an 1952 agreement, Pakistani government had accepted the right of Diamer people to the forest and minerals of the district.
The other speakers complained that the KP police harassed GB traders bound for the province and extorted money from them.
Chairman of the Awami Action Committee Maulana Sultan Raees said KP should accept the right of GB people to their resources.
He warned that if the issue wasn’t resolved amicably, the people would agitate across GB.
Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman said the KP government exploited natural resources of GB.
“I have already spoken to KP’s chief minister and relevant federal government authorities about the issue but there is no seriousness on their part about its resolution,” he said.
He alleged that the KP government had planned to occupy the Diamer forest.
The CM said the tensions had adversely impacted on tourism in GB.
He warned that if the GB’s demands on the issue weren’t met by the end of the current month, then the residents would march on Islamabad against the federal and KP governments.
Also in the day, the GB Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution warning if the issue isn’t settled without delay, the situation will become dangerous.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019