Flames in Gilgit

Law enforcers have failed to keep order in the tiny city where a sense of community holds strong.


Editorial August 27, 2010

There have been four days of violence in Gilgit. Law enforcers have failed to keep order in the tiny city where a sense of community holds strong. As a result, two people have died. There have been exchanges of fire in the central square and other areas; tensions run high and the Rangers have now been called out.  For some time the flames burning beneath some of the world’s highest peaks have gone unnoticed because of the turmoil caused by floods in so many parts of the country. The hill torrents that have raced down the slopes and wrecked villages across the Gilgit-Baltistan territory have not been enough to douse the violence that has sparked up in the capital. The area is prone to sectarian unrest. The latest killings appear to be a continuation of targeted attacks that began early this month. The problem itself dates back to the 1970s when sectarian ugliness reared its head for the first time in this picturesque haven. It expanded during the 1980s when more organised killings of Sunnis and Shias took place. Many believe outside elements were involved in stirring up feelings of hatred that had never existed before. In recent years the high profile murder of a clerical leader in 2005 has led to an increase in unease and communal hostility.

In an area that has established a reputation for immaculate law and order, it is unfortunate that such a state of affairs should prevail. It is still more unfortunate that the authorities in the territory have failed to curb the violence or eradicate the root causes behind it. The Ismailis of the region have also been periodically targeted.  It is time the situation was brought under control. This is what the people expect from a government they elected just months ago. This in fact is essential to them in more ways than one. Gilgit-Baltistan remains one of the few mountain areas that has continued to draw in tourists. Many families live off the trade. For this reason, and also for the sake of peace, everything possible must be done to prevent more death.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2010.

COMMENTS (6)

dr.mujtaba | 11 years ago | Reply people of gilgit baltistan are peace loving.whatever clan they might belong to they have coexisted with harmony.this problem started only when india started sponsoring secterian voilence in this area to divert international attention from the atrocities being done in held kashmir and to plead to the world that the real problem lies on the pakistani side.the govt should play a positive role by calling all the stake holders in gilgit baltistan for talks and try to difuse the situation and not let the innocent people be used in hands of foreign entities with malacious intent.
Mahmoud S. Aziz | 11 years ago | Reply What help can the unfortunate people of Gilgit-Baltistan expect from this current Pakistan government when it cannot even provide basic security and human rights for its people in Karachi or Islamabad? Incompetent and corrupt leaders, breed incompetent and corrupt governments and, unless they are removed from power and replaced by competent leadership, Pakistan is on its way to becoming a failed state.
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