And the inevitable has occurred with the pronouncement of an anti-terrorism court in Gilgit-Baltistan’s capital city sentencing 12 people implicated in the Aliabad tragedy to life sentence while five others were declared absconders.
Since August 10, 2011 the people of the Hunza-Nagar have been facing state oppression and police highhandedness for the only fault of raising voice for their rights. On that fateful day the corrupt government let the trigger-happy police loose on the innocent and peaceful participants of a protest demonstration killing a resident along with his son. The protest was held by the affected people of the Attabad artificial lake when the puppet chief minister Mehdi Shah was scheduled to visit the area demanding compensation and rehabilitation without knowing that the government instead of accepting their genuine demands would use force and then implicate them in fake cases. After the incident, a curfew was imposed in the area and hundreds of people arrested on the false charges of rioting against the government and terrorism. More police enforcements were also brought to the area to quell any demonstration. It is also of interest to note that soon after the melee in the area, a group of people attacked public and private property and set some buildings on fire but it is yet to be investigated who was the mastermind of the violent mob and who had planned it because nobody is ready to accept that the people of Hunza-Nagar would ever take the law into their own hands as they have always been law abiding citizens. But the end result of the violence was that innocent people were booked in terrorism charges and many of them were put behind bars. Soon after the incident, in their investigations carried out by government agencies people of the area were held responsible for all the mess. However, later 00ly On the pressure of the masses, the ministers concerned ordered another probe that showed the police guilty of all the mayhem. This was not out of context as everyone is of the view that had the police demonstrated professionalism and restraint the killing of the father and his son and injuries to scores of other citizens would have been avoided. But through a conspiracy all the police officials accused of opening fire were provided protection while the DSP, Babar, the main culprit, was even given an award by the government leading to his retirement though all investigations had pointed fingers to his involvement in the killing. The main question here was that by whose bullets the two innocent people lost their life, was it fired by the protesters and the answer is certainly not. And secondly why none of the police officials accused of opening fire and killing and injuring the citizens were not arrested and produced in a court of law. It is routine that in other areas of the country, police and even Rangers personnel have been arrested and produced before courts for opening fire on citizens. The rangers were a few years back accused of killing a youth in Karachi after which they were booked in the terrorism case but when such an incident occurs in Gilgit-Baltistan the police are never touched giving an impression among the people that they are untouchable. Are they above the law and is there different law for different people. Here in the Hunza-Nagar, the local administration and the police prepared a very strong case against the residents and booked them under the notorious Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. The question here is how such a law whose author is the parliament of Pakistan can be implemented in the disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan which is neither a constitutional nor a geographical part of Pakistan? The black law has been extended to the disputed area without even taking the area’s so-called legislative assembly into confidence and more tragically the legislative assembly never raised any voice for bypassing it.
On the other hand, the region has in the recent past seen scores of incidents in which innocent people were killed and property worth billions of rupees destroyed but in none of the cases the police never arrested anyone nor made an investigation. Besides, no suspect has even been arrested in the scores of terrorism cases that killed hundreds of people I the region during the last many years. Besides, human rights organizations the world over have been expressing concerns over the rising cases of human rights violations in the disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan A few months ago, a delegation of the Senate standing committee on human rights visited the region and expressed shock over the rising incidents of rights violations. After returning to Islamabad, the committee members also sent recommendations to the federal government to improve the situation but due to the political impasses in the capital after the sit-ins the government could not even have a look at the reservations let alone doing something to check the .rights violations in the area.
The latest cases in which scores of people were handed down life imprisonment in the Aliabad case has sent a shock wave among the people of the region and human rights organizations across the globe. There is an urgent need of revisiting the whole case from the start to not only save the innocent people from illegal punishment but also fix responsibility on those officials who were trigger happy to please their boss, the chief minister of the region, by using force against the protesters and then implicating in terror charges even though the police opened fire and killed two innocent people on the occasion.
The Pakistani rulers have for decades treated two million people of Gilgit-Baltistan as a subject of a kingdom rampantly violating their basic rights and using force to suppress their voice. This trend seems not going to cease as seen in the latest case. If no steps were taken to stop such incidents, the sense of deprivation among the people of the region will further go up and this would also not be in the interest of the corrupt rulers sitting in Islamabad.