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May 28, 2018

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GB Order 2018: Opposition boycotts PM’s speech

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing members of Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly. APP

GILGIT: Protests broke out in 10 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan on Sunday against the Gilgit-Baltistan Executive Order 2018. The angry opposition members and people called the GB Order 2018 anti-people.

The residents of Gilgit-Baltistan boycotted all economic activity and staged protests, while opposition members in the GB Legislative Assembly, Awami Action Committee, lawyers, students and other stakeholders have been on the roads for the last three days.

The say the new order propagated by the federal government is completely silent on the basic political and constitutional status of the area. The protesters say the new order is nothing but a sham and a farce.

Earlier, a number of people were injured as the police tried to stop the protesters from approaching the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly for a sit-in against the GB Order 2018. The police fired teargas shells. Aerial firing by the police injured PTI lawmaker Raja Jahanzeb and MWM lawmaker Rizwan Ali along with another 12 local leaders.

The angry people have formed a coalition — Awami Action Party — to agitate against the government. Other than the opposition parties, bar councils and local traders union are supporting their call.

Maulana Sultan Raees, a young leader of the coalition, was also injured when the police opened fire to disperse the protesters. On Sunday, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived in Gilgit. The police sealed all the roads leading to the assembly while people observed a shutter-down strike.

They also staged protests and shouted slogans against the government. When the PM reached the assembly, opposition members tore apart the copies of GB Order 2018 and boycotted his speech. There are 11 opposition members representing the PPP, PTI, MWM and Islami Tehreek.

PTI’s Raja Jahanzeb arrived at the assembly on crutches as he had been injured. During the commotion in the assembly, PML-N lawmaker Major (retd) Muhammad Amin attacked Jahanzeb, who in turn attacked him with one of his crutches.

The opposition later staged a walkout. Addressing the joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and Gilgit-Baltistan Council, PM Abbasi said the GB Order 2018 had empowered the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly and its people.

“Gilgit-Baltistan is the base of CPEC and its people will gain benefits,” he said. He thanked Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Muhammad Barjees Tahir for supporting the new order.

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