September 15, 2010
Pakistani security forces in Gilgit-Baltistan have pre-emptively adopted measures to suppress any rising protests from the population and are bypassing local authorities.
Below is an article authored by Senge Hassan Sering of the Institute for Gilgit-Baltistan Studies:
Political turmoil continues to plague Gilgit-Baltistan. Authorities have banned pillion riding fearing further unrest as thousands of natives plan to protest excesses by Pakistani security forces. Gilgit-Baltistan is an area with rampant poverty and people cannot afford to purchase cars to ride to work, schools or businesses. Motorbikes are considered the affordable means of transportation. Ban on pillion riding will therefore restrict freedom of movement of majority of the natives while the terrorists will continue to roam at large.
Shia leader of Gilgit Baltistan, Agha Rahat Ali has stated that aged and ill innocent people are among those targeted by Pakistani security forces in the name of maintaining law and order. He said that security forces continue to torture innocent youth and aged with impunity. Many of those abducted and tortured are now getting treatment in local hospital. Security forces are bypassing local authorities and arresting natives accusing them of challenging the forces. He demanded complete and immediate withdrawal of Pakistani Rangers and transfer of security apparatus to Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts. Agha Rahat, who has a following in hundreds of thousands, was addressing a large congregation on Friday.
Shia Ulema (Clerics) Council of Gilgit has also accused Pakistani authorities and security forces of targeting the Shia families on discriminatory basis in the name of search operation, which is going on in Gilgit since last two weeks. The operation is feared to bring thousands of protestors on the streets in the coming days. The council passed a resolution calling the actions of security forces un-constitutional and illegal. The council also accused terrorists of receiving support from security forces.