Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Lahore on Saturday to oppose the arrest of activists Asif Naji and Shabbir Mayar from Gilgit-Baltistan.
The protestors shouted anti-Pakistan slogans and demanded the immediate release of Naji and Mayar, who were arrested by law enforcement agencies under schedule IV of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
Naji, an activist from Baltistan Students Federation, and Mayar, an activist of the Awami Workers Party were allegedly arrested for successfully mobilising the locals of Skardu on various occasions and raising their voice against Islamabad.
The duo had led the anti-tax movement and the uproar against Chief Secretary Babar Hayat Tarar after he used derogatory words against the locals.
Locals have often alleged that the Pakistan Army has been involved in gross human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan, and has been meting out brutalities on the common people of the region.
"Our perception of Gilgit-Baltistan is a region clad with beautiful mountains and sceneries. You all go there to enjoy those places. The same region is reeling under such atrocities which are beyond worldly description. Numerous attempts are made to silent the reasonable voices of the region, particularly in the case of Naji and Mayar, who were first put in the list of draconian schedule IV and later these two were picked from their homes," a protestor said.
Supplementing the views, another protestor added: "If somebody from Gilgit-Baltistan is found guilty of doing something wrong then he should be prosecuted in court. He should not be picked from his house and subsequently killed. Punjab, Gilgit and Pakistan by and large need to understand the pain of mothers and sisters who go through severe consequences after their loved ones are killed. You need to understand the pain of the children who are left orphaned after the deaths of their father. These people are just asking for the rights of their life and unless you support and become their voice, they are not going to get those rights."
Echoing the sentiments of the locals, a protester asserted that Naji and Mayar were arrested "just because they were fighting for the rights of Gilgit-Baltistan and their own people."
"We appeal to authorities to release them immediately and if they are not released, people from Gilgit-Baltistan, who are living in Lahore, will gather in front of press club and will protest again," he added.