Protest at Islamabad Press Club for the youth of GB to be heard
The youth of Gilgit- Baltistan are determined to have their voices heard when it comes to the development of the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) which will have a massive impact of the region. GB (formerly known as the Northern Areas of Pakistan) borders Azad Kashmir to the south, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, Xinjiang, China to the east and northeast and Jammu and Kashmir to the south-east.
Historically the economy of the region thrived from trade along the ancient Silk Route. GB was largely cut off from the rest of Pakistan through lack of roads until the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which was completed in 1978.
GB lies in a politically sensitive area and is an autonomous self-governing region that was established as a single administrative unit in 1970. The mountainous terrain is also in an area disputed between India, China and Pakistan.
Pakistan Times describes the CPEC project as follows,
“China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) is a mega project of USD 45+ billion taking the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China to new heights. The project is the beginning of a journey of prosperity of Pakistan and China’s Xinjiang. The economic corridor is about 3000 Kilometres long consisting of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect China’s Xinjiang province to rest of the world through Pakistan’s Gwadar port.”
See following link for more information and updates on GB economic corridor,
Young people are not prepared to sit back and watch outsiders develop their homeland without consultation. They want part ownership of the project in terms of contributing their thoughts, ideas and demands for how it should be developed and ensure local people share the benefits and financial rewards as opposed to being exploited while others take all the profits.
To that end, Babu Astori who originates from GB, works in Business Management at Etisalat, Chairman at PSF Industries and Chairman of the Peoples Student Federation (PSF) sent media the following statement,
GB youth seek a fair share of ownership of the economic corridor project not exploitation
A protest rally was organised by Gilgit- Baltistan youth against the tax imposition, discrimination in the shares of economic corridor and constitutional issues of GB. Rallies were held throughout in different cities of Pakistan, Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Skardu, there a joint resolution was handed over to the president of the Press Club which reads as follows.
1. Acting upon the desires of people and resolution passed by the assembly of GB, GB shall be declared as 5th province of Pakistan.
2. Shares and benefits of economic corridor shall be distributed equally among the stakeholders.
3, Any attempt regarding the division of GB will be vehemently opposed.
4. Government must withdraw all kinds of direct and indirect taxes until the declaration of constitutional rights of GB.
5. Issues of decrease of wheat quota and improper supply of wheat to region shall be addressed.
“Gilgit Baltistan: Nexus of a New Asian Economic Corridor”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.