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HomeFeatured StoriesMobile Int­er­net Services Suspended In Gilgit-Baltistan Amid Protests, Sectarian Tension

Mobile Int­er­net Services Suspended In Gilgit-Baltistan Amid Protests, Sectarian Tension

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In a statement issued on Sunday, Pakistan’s interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi reassured the public that the situation in Gilgit-Baltistan remains “completely peaceful.” This assertion comes amidst reports of escalating sectarian tensions in the region, which led to the indefinite suspension of mobile internet services.

Solangi, addressing the concerns on social media platform X, emphasised that the reports suggesting the deployment of the Pakistan Army were “completely baseless,” citing an official statement released by the region’s home department.

He further clarified that all roads, trade centres, businesses, and educational institutions in Gilgit-Baltistan are operating as usual, despite a history of rivalry between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the area.

Solangi elaborated on the involvement of the Pakistan Army and civil armed forces. He said that their presence was solely aimed at “maintaining law and order” in anticipation of the chehlum or Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day following the mourning period for Imam Hussain, the Prophet’s grandson, who was killed in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the seventh century.

Additionally, special security measures have been implemented to safeguard procession routes and Imambargahs, and a Section 144 order has been imposed across the region to prevent any untoward incidents.

Tensions flare up in Gilgit-Baltistan

The tensions in the region flared up on Friday, triggered by protests in Gilgit and surrounding areas, called for by a Shia group. These protests were in response to alleged derogatory remarks made by a prominent Sunni cleric during a separate demonstration in Gilgit. The protestors were demanding action against the cleric.

Furthermore, authorities in the region have suspended two police personnel and a schoolteacher on allegations of sharing sectarian posts on social media. Over 12 individuals have been detained for posting controversial content.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the United Kingdom joined Canada and the United States in advising its citizens to avoid visiting the northern areas of Pakistan. The U.S. Embassy cautioned American citizens to exercise heightened caution in Gilgit-Baltistan due to recent protests in Skardu and Diamer, as well as the potential for additional demonstrations, road closures, and disruptions to local mobile and internet networks.

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