Gilgit Baltistan: Gilgit Baltistan has been seething and boiling with anger and dissent against Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Continuing indifference of mainstream political leadership in Islamabad has resulted in widespread protests in the region.

For weeks, public protests have reverberated across Gilgit city over 22-hour power shortages. The region has been suffering major power breakdowns for months with only promises from leadership in Islamabad. A new wave of protests is likely to hit the region from March 10.

Spearheading the protests, the Gilgit-Baltistan Awami Action Committee has given a 16-charter of demands to the administration. The demands presented by the Gilgit-Baltistan Awami Action include power crisis, food shortage, land grabbing and various other issues that the people in the region have been facing for a long time.

The continuing power breakdown has only added to the increasing misery of the people. Due to power shortages, business establishments have been forced to shut down in the evening hours. Schools and other educational institutions have been shut down while the majority of the cottage industries remain shuttered.

The erratic power supply has caused unemployment and despair among the people, resulting in waves of thefts and violence. In addition to the power crisis, people have been facing difficulty in purchasing food materials.

Prices of wheat flour and other food articles skyrocketed as the country hobbled on multiple crises. Long queues for wheat flour could be seen in cities and villages across the mountainous region with squabbles, black marketing and hoarding making it difficult for people to access basic food items. Children remained hungry and women toiled hard to make at least one meal a day for the family.

As people cried out for help, the lawmakers travelled to Islamabad and foreign shores in the name of seeking aid but to escape public scorn. Pakistan's federal government has paid little attention and money to the poor region.

Of the promised Rs 4 billion package, Islamabad has approved only Pakistani rupees (PKR) 21 crore which has brought a majority of the development projects to a halt. The halted projects have spiked unemployment and misery among the people.

The misery and helplessness among the people have been so widespread that diverse communities have come together to raise their voices for the past several weeks. Public anger has been building over the years with the army treating the region as a colony, forcing the farm and land owners to give up their land for a cabal of land grabbers.

Recently, Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn reported that people of Gilgit Baltistan have taken to the streets in freezing temperatures for various reasons, including questions about land rights, taxation, extensive power cuts and reduction in the amount of subsidised wheat that the centre provides the region.

The issues have been existing in Gilgit Baltistan for decades. However, Pakistan has refused to pay attention to the problems faced by the people in Gilgit Baltistan. The Pakistani army's role in changing the demographic profile of the region, sowing seeds of sectarianism and open

loot of the region's resources has been well documented.

The Pakistani army made the loot "official" when the China-Economic Corridor project was implemented. Dissent began to swell across the region when people witnessed how the Islamabad Rawalpindi cabal took away their land to help themselves and their friends from China, dissent began to swell across the region.

The local residents have serious reservations about the state taking over the land in the region as they believe that the land belongs to the people, Dawn reported. The state has been acquiring land in Gilgit Baltistan for CPEC and other projects.

People of the region have been realising that the leaders of Islamabad and Rawalpindi under the garb of land acquisition are colonising them and making them poorer, helpless, and seething.