Gilgit-Baltistan: Valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan are resonating with loud protests by local communities against Pakistan for forcibly usurping village lands and plundering their natural wealth, said a media report.

Recently, a large number of people came out into the streets protesting against the Pakistan government's decision to issue licenses to private contractors for mining gems. Many of these contractors are close to the Pakistan Army, Islam Khabar reported.

In its report, Islam Khabar said, during the rally, people were heard saying that their region was a disputed territory and Pakistan was an illegal occupier and hence had no right to lease out their natural resources without the consent of the local communities.

The main allegation against the Pakistan Army was that ancestral land was being forcibly taken away and leased out to private contractors working with the army, the report said.

The report further added that this contractor-military nexus has robbed scores of poor people of their homes in the past few years. The local communities have been protesting against this state-run land grabbing racket for years now but without any success. The Pakistan government, as well as the army, is too powerful to bow under public pressure.

In February, the Gilgit Baltistan people had organised a Pakistan wide protest against illegal licenses. Residents of Nasirbad, Hunza, and Gilgit Baltistan took to the streets demanding the revocation of licenses given to contractors. Simultaneous protests were also held in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and other cities where many youngsters from Gilgit Baltistan live and study, Islam Khabar reported.

Local communities are angry at the reckless manner in which Pakistan, especially its military, was usurping land under various pretexts and gifting a large part of them to private contractors for the mining of precious stones and metals, according to the report.

Gilgit Baltistan has been under the illegal control of Pakistan for over seven decades and the people of the region have been increasingly demanding freedom. However, so far they have made no gains with their voices being suppressed violently by the Pakistani state.