Protests in Baltistan amid Pak political crisis

Kashmir

Pakistan has seen mass mobilizations both in protest and celebration since parliament on April 10 voted to remove Imran Khan as prime minister. The vote took place three days after the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that an order by Khan to dissolve the parliament was unconstitutional. Parliament’s lower house appointed the leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, as the new prime minister. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, staged a walkout from the Assembly ahead of the vote.

Opposition to Khan has been mounting in the remote and contested Himalayan region of Baltistan. April 6 saw a protest outside government offices in the Baltistan town of Skardu, with residents demanding the return of properties they say have been usurped by local officials. Protesters accused the Khan administration of illegal and forceful acquisition of their properties on behalf of “land mafias” dominated by regional oligarchs.

Baltistan is part of the territory claimed by India as within the disputed province of Kashmir. However, Islamabad has had it administratively severed from the rest of Pakistan-held Kashmir, together with the adjacent region of Gilgit. The governor of the “autonomous territory” of Gilgit-Baltistan, Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon, resigned after Khan was removed from power. (Jurist, Indian Express, Hindustan TimesDunya News, ANI)

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