Military operation in Gilgit-Baltistan likely | Pakistan Today

Military operation in Gilgit-Baltistan likely

–Mob attacks police station, set suspects of school attack free  

–Spokesperson says all schools in GB will reopen on Sept 1

ISLAMABAD: The situation in violence-hit areas of Tanger and Darel districts of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) remains tense as the local administration has failed to take action against the suspects involved in setting over a dozen schools, almost half of them for girls, on fire, as the authorities are set to hold a key meeting with local jirga on Tuesday to help bring the culprits to justice.

Though the GB government claims that the situation is returning back to normal, several sources have informed Pakistan Today that the militants have taken control over Tanger and Darel. They said that a mob attacked the Tanger Police Station and freed around half-a-dozen suspects arrested for putting the schools on fire.

A meeting was also held at PWD Rest House in Chilas on Monday to review the law and order situation. The meeting was attended by the corps commander, GB force commander and inspector general of police (IGP). Later, the officers left for Gilgit on choppers to take up the situation with GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, who is yet to visit the violence-hit areas.

The meeting was briefed on a possible operation against miscreants as the forces commanders agreed to apprehend all suspects involved in the schools’ ransack.

Sources at Tanger said that the area had virtually become a no-go area for the civilian administration. Though GB Spokesman Faizullah Faraq said that the CM would visit the violence-hit areas soon, he did not give a date for the same, reflecting the gravity of the situation on the ground.

The locals have also demanded the army to conduct operations across Diamer district. Though GB government is reluctant to opt for a military operation against the miscreants, the administration, led by the chief secretary, is in favour of a military operation.

According to a source, there will be a meeting on Tuesday between the influential of Diamer, local jirga and army officials headed by Northern Areas Force Commander Saqib Mehmood, at Chilas Rest House. The decision about an army operation is expected as the police have badly failed to deal with the situation.

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk has also phoned GB CM Haeezur Rehman and sought details about the incident of torching of girls schools in Chilas.

The chief minister briefed the prime minister about the progress in the investigation into the incident.

PM Mulk directed the chief minister to ensure that the elements involved in the incident are brought to book, adding that depriving girls of education will not be acceptable at all.

Keeping in view the rise of sectarian tensions amid the ransacking and setting on fire of girls’ schools, the authorities have launched various initiatives to purge the extremist forces in the area.

A de-radicalisation campaign has been launched in Gilgit-Baltistan to help eradicate the prevalent violent extremism and sectarian violence in the region and train the local youth about tackling the menace of terrorism and extremism.

The two-day workshop has been organised by Islamic Research Institute (IRI) of the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) at the Karakoram International University Gilgit to familiarise the students studying at universities and religious seminaries with the philosophy of Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative and disseminate the message of peace and harmony.

Representatives of all major religious schools of thought in the region including Noor Bakhsha community, Ismailis, Shias and Sunnis participated in the event.

Furthermore, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday decided that classes will resume on September 1 at all schools of Diamer district, including those attacked by extremists last week.

“The government has decided to reopen the educational institutions to defeat the terrorists,” GB government Spokesperson Faizullah Faraq said while talking to a private media outlet.

The government has directed officials of the schools and education department to show up to their jobs immediately, he said, adding that work will commence in 2-3 days to repair the schools that were targeted.

According to the spokesman, routine activities in Diamer that were hindered by the violence of the last few days have resumed.

Violence had erupted in the serene valley of Diamer on Friday when extremists opposing girls’ education set fire to more than a dozen schools. One of the girls’ schools had been torched at least five times in recent years.

It is pertinent to mention here that scores of lives have been lost in suicide bombings and explosions in GB during the last decade due to violent extremism and sectarian tensions prevalent in the region, shattering the peace and tranquillity of the area

Owing to its geographical location, Gilgit-Baltistan is an important and very sensitive region. The area is also of core importance vis-à-vis China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project jointly launched by the governments of Pakistan and China.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]



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