Increasing number of voices are heard in PoK/Gilgit-Baltistan for the merger of the regions with India

Skardu: Hundreds of thousands of locals gathered in the Skardu area in Gilgit Baltistan to protest against the Pakistani government demanding an immediate release of their leader and top Shia cleric Agha Baqir Al-Hussaini.

Hussaini was booked and picked up by Pak security agencies for his remarks during a Ulema conference in Skardu

The protestors chanted slogans against Pakistan authorities and Army General Asim Munir. Raising cries of “Asim Munir Murdabad” and “Chalo Chalo Kargil Chalo”.

The protesters warned of civil war and their merger with India if their demands were not immediately met. Slogans were raised and vows were taken.

Earlier too, there were gatherings at large scale and massive protests were witnessed at Skardu over an FIR against a Shia Cleric in the PoK. The Shia community in Skardu has also expressed their discontent over the amendments in blasphemy laws.

The matter pertains to Baqir Al-Hussaini’s remarks which were called “blasphemous” by some people.

On August 22, protests erupted in the Sunni-majority Diamer district against the remarks made by Baqir. The Karakoram Highway (KKH) was blocked for two days by the protesters demanding his arrest.

The protesters called Baqir’s statement “blasphemous” and demanded that he should be arrested and tried under the relevant sections of blasphemy law. The administration tried to pacify the protesters and open KKH but failed in its efforts.

Meanwhile, counter-protests and rallies were held in Shia-majority Skardu, where protesters demanded the abolishment of FIR against Baqir and said that Baqir would not apologise for his statement.

Baqir had earlier stated that he stands by his position and will never ask for forgiveness, no matter how many FIRs are registered against him or if he is arrested or killed.

The protesters said that if the administration cannot keep the highway to Punjab open then they also don’t want to go there and instead asked it to open the route to Kargil.

In the wake of the prevailing law and order situation, the administration decided to keep all educational institutions closed in Skardu. Many tourists are reportedly stranded in the area due to the closure of KKH. Reports of the highway being opened are coming out on social media but it is still not fully opened and the atmosphere remains very tense.