The curfew imposed in Gilgit on April 3 following deadly violence was finally lifted on Saturday, and cellular services were restored as well, officials said.
The decision was taken after Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Chief Minister Mehdi Shah met Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad and reviewed the law and order situation in the region, a press release issued from the chief minister secretariat said.
In an attempt to contain and quell the violence, the G-B government had suspended cellular services, following the imposition of curfew after more than 20 people were killed in Gilgit and Chilas on April 3.
However, residents of Gilgit said that the service was not fully restored yet.
Shah claimed that several suspected individuals were arrested after the riots broke out and those found innocent would be released soon. Frontier Corps and Rangers personnel have also been deployed to assist the G-B government to maintain law and order, he added.
He stated that the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) directorate will also be set up in Gilgit, while an FIA office will be opened in Skardu.
Religious scholars were also being taken on board in order to promote religious harmony in Gilgit and other areas, the chief minister reiterated.
‘Mosque Board’ proposed
In an attempt to effect reconciliation between the two warring sects, the Gilgit-Baltistan government is planning to constitute a ‘Mosque Board’.
The two central mosques in Gilgit, one each for Sunnis and Shias, were sealed a week earlier after sectarian violence claimed the lives of more than 20 people.
The board will look after the financial matters of the two mosques, besides ensuring that the places of worship are not used for sermons and speeches which spread hate. “The names of the people on the board will be finalised within the next three days,” sources said. Those who are privy to the matter say the board will comprise at least 20 people from both sects and will be selected by a committee.
They added that consultations with clerics of both sects were held for three consecutive days in the meeting hall of G-B’s legislative assembly.
Regional Law Minister Wazir Shakeel confirmed that a code of ethics was being prepared for the board, which would look after and regularise the affairs of both the central mosques in Gilgit.
“Once a draft of the code of ethics is ready, it will be shared with other stakeholders including the chief minister,” he said on Saturday.
Shakeel said the code would be given legal cover to ensure that it is not violated.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.