Baltistan has been under sectarian stress for some time now. Traditionally known for the Baltis’ love of peaceful coexistence, the districts of Ghanche and Skardu have recently gone through two major events having sectarian dimensions.
First, two teachers were accused of producing and circulating ‘blasphemous’ material about the Ahl-e-Bait (family of the holy Prophet) in Skardu District. Enraged people took to the streets and demanded action against the accused. The authority, after considerable delay that led to massive protests and unrest, arrested the accused and the agitation was quelled. The accused were tried in a Court and sentenced to imprisonment.
Second, the house and library of a scholar of the Noor Bakhshi sect was set on fire in Karis village. The police made several arrests, in a bid to indict the arsonists. The situation has taken an interesting turn with people in Ghanche agitating for release of one of the accused arsonists.
Yesterday a massive protest was held in Khapulu, headquarter of Ghanche District. The protest was organized by the Noor Bakhsh Youth Federation. The agitators accused the government of registering false cases against innocent people belonging to the Noor Bakhsh sect. Similar protests have also been held in Islamabad.
What we need to understand is that sectarianism is a cancer that spreads throughout the society and corrodes the fabrics of harmony and trust. The peaceful people of Baltistan must realize that dialogue is the only way forward. In order to ensure sustenance of the social heritage of Baltistan, of which love, harmony, mutual trust and tolerance are important elements, collective action is needed from all segments of the society, under leadership of the elected government. This is the only way towards peace. All other paths lead to chaos.
With an elected government in place with a Balti from Skardu as Chief Minister and another Balti from Ghanche as Senior Minister, all efforts must be focused on provision of justice to the grieved people.
Gilgit – Baltistan cannot afford more sectarianism. We all will have to act with cool minds and open hearts to resolve the issues and contribute towards betterment of the impoverished and malnourished regions of Gilgit – Baltistan.