The blame game between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has surfaced once again, this time, the issue at hand is the Kohistan massacre, in which 16 residents of G-B were killed after they were taken of a bus travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, G-B ministers and legislators criticised politicians from Kohistan for issuing premature statements and blaming G-B for the incident. Previously, it was the Diamer-Bhasha Dam boundary dispute which had flared tempers in G-B .
G-B Health Minister Gulbar Khan, Parliamentary Secretary Rehmat Khaliq, Minister for Works Bashir Ahmed and Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly member Maulana Sarwar addressed the media during the press conference.
“Instead of blaming us, they should trace the culprits. It is their responsibility since the incident took place in their territory,” said Ahmed.
His remarks come following a statement by Mehboob Khan, a member of K-P assembly who had earlier blamed the people of G-B for carrying out the attack in Kohistan to settle their personal scores.
“We won’t rule out the possibility of involvement of G-B residents. If anyone from the region is found to be involved, we will fully support the government in his arrest,” said Sarwar.
The legislators called for a joint investigation team to probe the incident.
Tensions between G-B and K-P have escalated ever since the boundary row over Diamer-Bhasha Dam surfaced last year.
The K-P assembly had taken the matter to the Supreme Court after the G-B assembly passed a resolution last month rejecting K-P’s claim over part of the land near the dam.
The act triggered a sharp reaction in G-B, instilling a feeling of alienation among people who believed the K-P government was trying to gain a share in the royalty from the dam.
Meanwhile, life in Gilgit remained tense on the third day of the incident as the police recovered a body from a mountain in Napur. The roads remained deserted and shops were closed in most areas.
Earlier on Tuesday, a man was killed and two others injured in reprisal attempts following the Kohistan attack.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.