The Gilgit-Baltistan government announced on Monday the formation of a special highway task force to monitor the security situation on the Karakoram Highway (KKH).
“The task force will be led by a serving major of the Pakistan Army while Gilgit-Baltistan Scouts, Frontier Constabulary (FC) and elite units of the police force will be part of it,” said G-B Education Minister Ali Madad Sher, while talking to the media after chairing a cabinet meeting.
This was the first cabinet meeting held since sectarian violence gripped the region, claiming more than 20 lives and bringing everyday life to a complete standstill.
Ali Madad Sher, who is also the provincial spokesperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), asserted that security checkposts will be established every 8-10 kilometres along the KKH since traffic remains suspended on the vital trade route in the aftermath of the sectarian turbulence.
“This will ensure a smooth flow of traffic as well as trading goods to G-B,” he said.
When asked whether any efforts have been made to arrest those responsible for the unrest, Sher asserted that 20 ‘most wanted’ criminals have been nabbed.
In order to restore peace in the region, Sher said that a Jirga, comprising 20 representatives from both Sunni and Shia sects, will be convened soon.
“Another seven arrests will be made shortly from the Nagar area, where the army is constantly holding negotiations with tribal elders,” he added.
The minister further said that cellular networks will soon be restored G the areas of Ghizer, Astore and Skardu. “In Gilgit, the process will take some more time,” he added, cautiously.
The minister further said that the curfew would remain in place in Gilgit during night time until complete peace is restored in the area. He added that a judicial commission would be constituted soon to thoroughly investigate the causes that led to the sectarian pandemonium.
“Fifty-seven prisoners have also been moved from the sub-jail where they had been kept previously, after authorities decided to abolish the prison facility,” Sher revealed.
Inmates of a particular sect were being kept in the prison.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.