THE protest sit-in continued for the 25th consecutive day on Saturday at Yadgar-i-Shuhada in Skardu.
—Photo by the writer
THE protest sit-in continued for the 25th consecutive day on Saturday at Yadgar-i-Shuhada in Skardu. —Photo by the writer

GILGIT: Protest demonstrations and sit-ins continued across Gilgit-Baltistan for the 25th consecutive day on Saturday, protesting against the government’s decision to increase the price of subsidised wheat and other grievances.

Protesters gathered at various locations in GB, exerting pressure on the government to accept their demands. Protest rallies from different areas joined the sit-in held at Yadgar-i-Shuhada in Skardu.

Meanwhile, a sit-in continued at Gari Bagh in Gilgit. Protest demonstrations blocking the Karakoram Highway occurred at three points in Nagar district. Similar demonstrations unfolded in the Yasin Valley of Ghizer district, and a rally unfolded in Kharmang district. Earlier, demonstrations had been staged in Diamer, Astore, Ghanche, Shigar, and Kharmang districts.

Protesters have pledged to persist until their demands are met, asserting that the GB government has failed to address their genuine concerns despite their ongoing protests for the past four weeks.

GB Council members urge caretaker PM to suspend price hike

They warned that the next phase of the protest would be dangerous if the government does not show flexibility. Ehsan Ali Advocate, the chief coordinator of Awami Action Committee (ACC), told Dawn that if their demands are not met in the coming days, the ACC will decide to start protest marches to Skardu and Gilgit from other areas.

GB Council members, through a letter, requested the caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq, who is also the chairman of the GB Council, to suspend the recent increase in wheat prices.

The letter, sent by GB Council members Ayub Shah, Hashmatullah Khan, and Shabiul Hasan, stated that the current increase in wheat prices has created a severe financial burden on the region, affecting the livelihoods of the people. They urged the government to re-examine its decision to increase in the price of wheat and to continue the subsidised wheat policy.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Islamabad, GB Food Minister Ghulam Muhammad, accompanied by GB Minister of Law Sohail Abbas Shah and Minister of Planning Raja Nasir Ali Khan, announced that the GB government would not withdraw the decision to increase subsidised wheat rates.

He explained that the purpose of the increase was to overcome a wheat shortage in the region. He stated that the government faced a deficit of Rs7 billion to purchase and deliver subsidised wheat on the allocated funds.

Opposition members of the GB Assembly and GB Council agreed to support the protesters and jointly work to address their demands after a meeting of GB opposition leader Kazim Mesum and other opposition members and GB Council members.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2024

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