Pakistan: Complete shut down in Gilgit-Baltistan against imposition of taxes
People are accusing Islamabad of undermining the special constitutional status of the region
Traders, businessmen and political activists of Gilgit-Baltistan continued with their ongoing shutter-down strike for the third consecutive day on Tuesday against the Pakistani government for undermining special constitutional status of the region before announcing unlawful imposition of taxes.
Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and is under the occupation of Pakistan since 1947. Gilgit-Baltistan has a special constitutional status in Pakistan and had been enjoying a different taxation system.
Earlier, the talks held among several stakeholders failed to break the deadlock on taxes, evoking widespread resentment against the Pakistani authorities who otherwise are accused of oppressing people and plundering resources of the region.
Markets and business centres in major towns remained closed and attendance in private and government offices, educational institutions was thin because of non-availability of transport on roads, The Dawn reported, adding that business activity between Pakistan and China at the Sust dry port also remained suspended.
Lawyers across the region boycotted courts in solidarity with the protesters who vowed to continue with the agitation till implementation of their demands, according to the report.
Speaking at a protest meeting, traders’ body president, Gilgit chapter, Mohammad Ibrahim, and others alleged that the federal Pakistani and the Gilgit-Baltistan governments had been deceiving the people.
Traders are of the view that imposition of taxes is illegal and unconstitutional. Islamabad which imposed the taxes is now ready for talks but the Chief Minister is out of the country. Traders are not ready to wait for the notification for abolishing taxes while the Pakistani authorities are saying that the notification would be released soon.
“Business and commercial activities remained suspended in all ten districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. Traders and political parties held rallies demanding withdrawal of the taxes imposed on the people of the region. They said the imposition of taxes without determining the constitutional status of the region is illegal and unconstitutional,” reported Pamir Times, a community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan.
The report said that the acting Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan, Muhammad Akbar Taban, told Radio Pakistan that the federal government has fulfilled the demand of the business community by issuing notification for not collecting advance tax on banking transactions.
“He said that a committee led by Minister for Law and Works Dr Muhammad Iqbal and Parliamentary Secretary Aurangzeb Khan has been constituted to address the matter through dialogue,” the report added.
Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Hafiz, Hifizu Rehman, according to reports in the Pakistani media, is in the UK on vacation and the administration has failed to break the deadlock with Anjuman-i-Tajran and Awami Action Committee.