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Activists speak against Online Classes and Internet Issue in Gilgit-Baltistan



Protest against internet issues in Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit Baltistan with a population of around 2 million has always been a famous tourist spot due to its natural beauty and serene environment. Sometimes referred to as the fifth province of Pakistan yet in a constitutional limbo, Gilgit-Baltistan plays a vital role in promoting a softer image of Pakistan at an international level.

GB’s youth is very enthusiastic about education and have proven themselves to be competent in all fields of life, from arts to science and military to sports. The activism for rights, however, has been not that smooth, thanks to the infamous Anti-Terrorism Act or ATA. For decades, there has been a fear to speak out but the ice seems to finally break.

During the past few months, GB’s youth has been active than ever both on online platforms and on the ground for their basic human rights and necessities. One such example is the #Internet4GilgitBaltistan campaign on Twitter and Facebook that made it to international media and the government finally took some measures to ensure the progress is made on the issues raised by the students and professionals.

The alarming situation of Coronavirus has taken over the world right now. Like many nations, a large population of Gilgit-Baltistan is facing several issues to carry out basic everyday activities. Due to prolonged oversight from the government, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are facing tremendous issues in terms of health, education, and other basic facilities.

Students are facing issues accessing quality internet which is a key for e-learning and online classes. Professionals and freelancers whose bread and butter depend on access to the internet are fearful of economic challenges while businesses and small enterprises try hard to recover from the financial blow of Covid-19.

COVID-19 is declared as a global pandemic, by WHO (World Health Organization), a challenge not only for Pakistan but the whole world. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, people are enduring severe threats due to the lack of medical facilities, lack of medical staff, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and lack of corona testing laboratories.

Due to the indifference of the Pakistan government and not giving the region its share of aid received from different organizations, there is an enlargement in the number of corona cases on a daily basis. Dr. Usama Riaz, a young general surgeon from Gilgit Baltistan and first Pakistani doctor, died from COVID19. There was a shortage of personal protective kit and other safety equipment where he was deployed and unfortunately contracted the virus.

The unavailability of access to the internet is causing another massive challenges for students who are reliant on the internet for online learning and other online purposes. During the closure of the institutes due to the global pandemic, the locals with one of the most elevated proficiency rates need to get a rapid and good internet connection.

Within the other parts of Pakistan, the internet has given much-needed alleviation to individuals stuck up at homes. Concerns regarding the issues have been raised multiple times by the students from parts of Gilgit through social media platforms using various hashtags and protesting, demanding the government and authorities for access to quality internet service and respite of the semester acknowledging the impediment towards online classes.

Students from across the Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu, and Ghizer are complaining against the issue on Twitter and other social media platforms demanding their digital rights, making it the topmost trend in Pakistan, #Internet4GilgitBaltistan within less than 24 hours.

And few celebrities came forward to support the movement on social media following the hashtag. The students and the professionals have been demanding their digital rights for the last few months, through campaigns and protests. But unluckily, the government and the authorities have not yet been able to make any development, the issue is quiet pending.

People from other parts of the country and world, prefer to relish the serene environment of Gilgit Baltistan, but unfortunately many seem to feel indifferent when it comes to giving basic rights to the region like access to quality internet and the proper medical facilities during these testing times.

Every life matters, the voices of Gilgit-Baltistan need to be heard and G-B must be given equal rights there other citizens of this country enjoy.

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