GILGIT: Amid a peaceful rally held in Skardu demanding the arrest of a cleric and the government’s announcement that the situation has turned normal, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan met with the delegations of Anjuman-i-Imamiya Gilgit and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat on Sunday as part of efforts to maintain law and order in the region.

Though daily life in the picturesque region went on as usual, a sense of fear could be seen among people. Roads stayed open but they became unusable when people took to the streets.

Caretaker Federal Info­r­mation Minister Murtaza Solangi said GB was “experiencing peace and stability”, adding that the law and order situation was calm.

In a post on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), he quoted a statement released by the GB home department which had dismissed reports regarding the deployment of Pakistan Army as baseless.

According to a press release, the delegations of Anjuman-i-Imamiya Gilgit and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Gilgit during their meeting with CM Gulbar Khan appreciated the government’s efforts to establish peace and order in the region.

They expressed their determination to play an organised role for the promotion of religious tolerance and brotherhood.

4G mobile internet facility remained suspended across GB for the second consecutive day on Sunday.

A protest demonstration was held in Skardu against the derogatory statements allegedly passed by Maulana Qazi Nisar Ahmed recently.

Mr Solangi in his post on X also said that all roads, trade centres, business activities and educational institutions in GB were open as usual.

The minister said that the services of the Pakistan Army and civil armed forces had been requisitioned “only to maintain law and order” on the eve of the chehlum of Imam Husain.

“Moreover, special measures have been taken for the security of the procession routes and imambargahs as per past practice,” he added.

The information minister said the GB home department had stated that Section 144 had been imposed across the region to maintain law and order, protect lives and property of people and avoid any untoward incident.

Meanwhile, the chief secretary’s office in a statement said that amid misleading social media narratives, “let’s set the record straight! Gilgit-Baltistan is experiencing peace and stability. Schools, colleges, markets, and roads are open, preserving a sense of normalcy”.

Reports of unrest are baseless. No shots were fired, no damage to public and private property was reported. Protests are a natural political democratic response to local issues, managed peacefully in Gilgit-Baltistan. It remains a heaven of peace and harmony, it said.

Mr Solangi also shared some videos and pictures from Skardu, saying locals and foreign tourists were enjoying their stay in Skardu.

At a large rally held at Yadgar Chowk in Skardu, protesters demanded the arrest of Maulana Qazi Nisar Ahmed for allegedly hurting the feelings of a community by his insensitive remarks.

On Sunday, a wheel-jam and shutter-down strike was observed in Skardu against Maulana Qazi Nisar’s alleged remarks.

Students of various institutions faced difficulties when roads are blocked by protests.

Besides, security of passengers at the Karakoram Highway was enhanced due to possible worsening of the situation.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2023

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