Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) police Inspector General (IG) Hussain Asghar has denied any foreign involvement in the recent strain of violence in the region, which has claimed around 20 lives.
Talking to The Express Tribune via telephone, the IG maintained that few job opportunities and a high literacy rate among the resident youth was fueling dissatisfaction and was feeding the rise in sectarianism.
“I don’t think there is any foreign hand involved in the sectarian riots. The key thing in my understanding is the high rate of literacy without employment opportunities, which allows the frustrated youth to be easily used by some elements,” he said.
Talking about the 32 people held hostage in the Nagar area following the killing of passengers in Chilas by a protesting mob, the IG said efforts were still underway to recover them safely. He added that he was sure they would not be harmed considering the people of Nagar had no prior record of harming people.
Asghar said that a few suspects have been arrested and are being interrogated. However, he was reluctant to disclose the names and exact numbers of those apprehended.
The IG dispelled impressions that a major military operation had been launched in the city.
“We have imposed curfew to normalise the situation and avoiding further riots,” he maintained. He claimed the situation was now under control and heading towards normalcy, especially since both political and religious leaders made efforts to placate the masses.
He also rejected the presence of huge weapon and ammunition caches in the city.
Talking about farsighted measures to stem sectarianism from the picturesque region, he suggested establishing industries to absorb the educated youth on a large scale. This would, according to him, keep them from involvement in sectarian activities.
“G-B has among the highest literacy rates in the country, but few employment oppurtunities. Such a situation frustrates the youth,” he said. “If they have jobs and are busy with work, they will not have time to indulge such activities,” he suggested.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2012.