- Anti-state elements are considered to be threats to CPEC
- Police claim the arrested leaders of Balawaristan National Front have links with RAW
Though the situation is different in Gilgit-Baltistan as compared to Balochistan, the law enforcement agencies have started a massive crackdown against activists of nationalist parties and suspected separatists, as the security agencies smell India’s ‘involvement’ to foil China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Gilgit Baltistan police, with the help of other agencies, have arrested over a dozen leaders and activists of the Balawaristan National Front (BNF) and recovered weapons and literature from their possession during the crackdown in district Ghizar and others parts of the region. Last week, the police had arrested at least 12 members of the BNF on charges of anti-state activities.
The nationalist party, according to police, was formed in 1995 by a nationalist Abdul Hamid, who is presently in Belgium from where he is allegedly running the network in Pakistan and other parts of the world. According to Inspector General Police of GB, Zafar Iqbal Awan, the arrested activists of the nationalist party were trying to promote an anti-national ideology and had played into the hands of foreign agencies.
Police claim that the said nationalist party, being operated from outside the country, was getting funds from RAW to sabotage the multibillion dollar project of CPEC, and creating unrest in the area. The IGP during a recent press briefing in Gilgit has also claimed that the law enforcers have uncovered Rs300 million money trails of the party and their usage for purchase of weapons and properties.
Some party leaders, who wanted to address a press conference against the arrest of their fellows in Gilgit on Sunday, were also arrested by the police before the media talks. Talking to Pakistan Today, official sources at Home Department GB said that the crackdown against the anti-state element was initiated purely on intelligence basis and after credible information. They said apart from the action against BNF activists, government in GB is also taking necessary steps to bring back Abdul Hamid through Interpol.
They said a red warrant will be issued for his arrest through Interpol. The crackdown against the nationalist party is largely being carried out in Ghizar district from where a nationalist party leader Nazeer Naji had won election of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) in 2015. The preemptive action against the anti-state elements was taken in Ghizar area following the security alerts issued by Ministry of Interior in Islamabad.
Talking to the Pakistan Today, senior journalist in Gilgit, Manzar Shigri, said that though the activists of BNF and other nationalist organisations have been active for years promoting their political and national agenda which attracted some segment of the society especially the youth, their activities were being monitored by law enforcement agencies soon after there was visible progress on CPEC projects.
“Anti-China sentiments, found among some leaders of the nationalist party, have apparently alarmed the law enforces to check and monitor activities of the party and their leaders,” he said, adding the party has not been involved in any armed struggle or violence in the region. “It could be a preemptive step taken by the government to ensure undisrupted progress on the mega project, for which the area is gateway,” he added. “Their objective and struggle were to make GB a separate state,” Manzar said.