The situation in Gilgit has improved considerably but night curfew has not yet been lifted. The law enforcement agencies, including the army, Scouts and other paramilitary troops continue their patrolling in the troubled areas and determination to keep an eye on the terror elements seems to be reassuring. Though the media has not been provided an opportunity to show the real picture of the situation, sources say that the army has made it clear to the provincial government as well as the police that until the last terrorist was apprehended and brought to justice their operation would continue in the area. Under the pan, in the first stage of the operation, all the activists and leaders of the extremist groups belonging to both the communities in the area would be arrested followed by an aggressive operation to clear the city of all illegal arms and ammunition. Besides, it has also been decided that mobile service will remained suspended for an indefinite period. It may be recalled that the modus operandi adopted by the army to deal with a similar situation in Parachinar had achieved the desired results. The reason behind the restoration of mobile service in Skardu was the ongoing rescue operation in the Gayari sector of Siachen where 138 army personnel and civilians remain trapped under an avalanche. And as soon as the operation reaches its conclusion the service will be suspended again.
The fact of the matter is that the nation has not come out of the April 3 tragedy during which innocent people were put to death mercilessly. This gory incident left the whole region divided into Sunni and Shia blocs sending a wave of shock and anger throughout the region. The chief minister later also acknowledged that had curfew not been clamped in the region, hundreds of more innocent people would have fallen victims to the senseless killings. Besides, the suspension of mobile service also worked in some way to keep the situation under control. Even though the government had to take all these extraordinary steps, people of the region still live in fear and avoid unnecessary movement out of their four walls. Apart from that, travel on the Karakoram Highway remains full of danger and after the recent killing of a truck driver at Nagar, the drivers went on a strike at Bisham but there was no one to give them guarantee of security.
After the April 3 killings, the police have registered about 17 cases of murder, arson and armed attacks but so far there is no details about how many people have been arrested and where they are being kept. The chief minister and most of his cabinet members still remain encamped in Sakrdu and seem not so interested in the law and order situation in other parts of the region. However, during the recent visit to Skardu by President Asif Ali Zardar, the chief minister demanded of the army chief that the police of Gilgit-Baltistan should be provided with modern arms and ammunition. After that the army chief ordered provision of about 3,000 guns to the police from the Wah ordnances factories. After supply of these arms, the chief minister should have no more excuse that a stick-wielding police can not deal with the terror elements. Actually, the main issue here is not lack of arms and personnel but spirit and sincerity to deal with the menace of terrorism and sectarian killings. Unfortunately, the chief minister lacks these elements. For the last over two years, people from different walks of life have been giving advices and proposals to improve law and order and end sectarian hatred in the region but the chief minister has failed to work on even one of them.
The other day President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Rza Gilani reviewed the overall security and law and order situation in the country and the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan was on top of the agenda. They also discussed ways to make the KKH safe for all types of travels. Though details of the meeting were not shared with the media, it is learnt that the meeting discussed deployment of army and other forces on the vital highway. Besides, the meeting also approved provision of all needed resources to the GB Scouts and police and induct more personnel in it. Some time back Interior Misister Rehman Malik had also approved appointment of about 1,000 personnel in the police but as it was part of the prime minister’s package it also met the same fate as the package which remained a dream. But now the situation in the region ahs forced the federal government to take immediate steps in this regard. But here a question arises: whether increase in the number of police would be enough to control the situation and restore durable peace in the region. We are of the opinion that to achieve the desired result, promotion of sectarian harmony and tolerance is of utmost importance compared to induction in the police and other security forces.
Besides, it is the responsibility of people from all walks of life to come out for maintenance of peace and sectarian harmony in the region. It is also necessary that people belonging to all schools of thought buried their hatchet and start a new beginning to live in peace and harmony. The common people of the region have fed up with the frequent killings and violence in the name of religion and they want to live in peace and harmony as they have been living in the region for centuries. Now they also understand the reality that some elements were hell-bent on destroying the peace of the area and pitch the people against each other to achieve their own interests. It is time we as a nation stop living as a silent spectator to the drama and raise our collective voice for the betterment of humanity so that our coming generations live in peace and without the fear of being put to death in the name of their sectarian affiliations.
Writer, DJ Mathal is from Gilgit Baltistan he is Chief Editor of BangShare – Newspaper. He can be reached through email@example.com