A protest broke out in the Gilgit-Baltistan region — illegally occupied by Pakistan — on Wednesday over arson at Karakoram International University.
The protesting youths were engineering aspirants whose hopes and dreams were killed overnight. The under-construction engineering department of the Karakoram International University was set on fire by some unknown people, and this has deprived them of technical education and a better future.
A protester expressed anguish over the arson and requested the government to take stern action against the miscreants.
“The government needs to take action against the arsonists; we are upset at the burning down of the university. Today, they are burning down buildings of the university, in the future they can attack the university,” he said.
The students and the administrative staff of the university have demanded a thorough investigation of the incident.
“This is an extraordinary situation, all the university staff, students, and teachers are scared that tomorrow they (arsonists) will enter the campus and create chaos,” said a teacher of the Karakoram International University.
“It is not the first or an isolated incident of this nature. Educational institutes have been targeted time and again by terrorists who are allegedly backed by Islamabad. In August 2018, around a dozen schools were burnt down overnight in the Diamer district of the region,” added the teacher.
Another staff at the protest site criticised the government’s ineptitude and said, “Today they are burning down the university, tomorrow they will burn down the hospitals and in future the city itself”.
The literacy rate of the illegally occupied regions of Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is higher than Pakistan‘s national average. In the past, locals have accused the Pakistan government of systematically denying people of Gilgit Baltistan education that can help them improve their job prospects.
Observers have also said that a backward and unstable occupied region is in Islamabad’s interest as it can be exploited with little effort. The Pakistan army is virtually in charge of all affairs of Gilgit Baltistan and POK with the generals devising political policies and implementing them.
Observers say that the Army is behind such attacks in the region as it senses that informed and educated people can be rebellious. Nipping their aspirations in the bud has been the modus operandi and a successful policy thus far for Pakistan.