Gilgit Baltistan, PoK:
On July 29, a protest was organized under the leadership of Habibullah Tora, Chairman of Kohistan Tahfuz Movement, a movement to protect the Kohistan district.
Notably, Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a dam on River Indus between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The angry residents of Herban-Shatial and Diamer District gathered near the Diamer-Bhasha dam site at the Shatial Bazar, Gilgit Baltistan and demonstrated against the Chinese Dam administration and Pakistan Government’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) for ignoring locals for jobs related to dam construction projects.
The locals also alleged that the government did not pay any compensation for the forcefully acquired land for the dam-site. Moreover, the protestors claimed that the Pakistan administration is ignoring the local youth of occupied Gilgit Baltistan and instead providing jobs to Pakistan’s Punjab-based youths.
The protestors led by Habibullah Tora demanded special reservations in jobs for the youth of the Diamer district and due compensation for the forcefully acquired land for the dam site.
The organizers of the protest warned the government and administration that if their demands and rights are not fulfilled they would expand the protests all over Gilgit-Baltistan.
In solidarity with the protestors, the local civil society activists and students of Chilas city also supported the agitation. The traffic on the Karakoram Highway, which connects the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, remained suspended due to the protest by the residents.
People in Gilgit say that Pakistan and China are occupying their green pastures in the name of Dams and Mining. Pakistan is submerging the fertile lands of Diamer in the name of energy generation and stealing employment and livelihood from the locals. They further resented that Pakistan is sacrificing the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan to ensure energy to factories in Punjab.
Locals regularly protest against the establishment but the military of Pakistan uses every possible means to suppress the voice of the Gilgit Baltistan residents. Lands of the residents have been forcefully acquired by Pakistani forces with the assistance of China to pave way for Chinese dams. People living in areas near the CPEC route have been forced to evict their lands.
Pakistani government’s mismanagement of Gilgit Baltistan resources and diverting them for utilization in Punjab (Pakistan) has often been the reason of protests by the locals.