Internet denied to Gilgit-Baltistan; citizens vent their anger

New Delhi (NVI): People of Gilgit-Baltistan, the territories of Jammu and Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan, are being denied proper access to internet since past many months, prompting the exasperated citizens to openly voice their agitation against the discrimination and subjugation.

The denial of internet has hit the people of the region very hard as it has come in the midst of coronavirus pandemic and the increased need for internet. The studies of their children and work of others have been adversely impacted by the lack of internet.

The people have staged protests in Gilgit Baltistan and its citizens living outside have launched a social media campaign #Internet4GilgitBaltistan to highlight the denial of the important facility, which amounts to denial of rights.

What is worse is that Special Communications Organization (SCO), a Pakistan government entity and the only telecom provider in the region, has been dubbing those demanding internet as ‘anti-State”.

“The #Internet4GilgitBaltistan campaign is far bigger than just speaking against a service provider whose system is faulty yet charges more for less. #HumanRights organisations should take notices of the digital disparity that has become evident during the #Covid19 crisis,” tweeted Imran Hunzai, who introduces himself as a documentary photographer and filmmaker living in Islamabad.

“High time we raise our voices for everything we have been kept deprived of,” tweeted Nida Ibrahim Shah, a corporate professional from Gilgit-Baltistan living in Lahore.

Basharat Issa, a lecturer, also tweeted, “We are much more than your tourist destination, detox spot, destination wedding plan, summer houses, camping, strategic asset and soft image! We are people, we are a civilisation! Think before dehumanising us!” The tweet was clearly addressed to the Pakistani authorities.

These are just a few examples of angst being expressed by the citizens of Gilgit Baltistan on social media.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir and it was illegally occupied by Pakistan by military force in 1947. Since then, the mountainous region has been witnessing immense subjugation at the hands of Pakistan and its Army.