Public anger has risen in various parts of Gilgit-Baltistan against a new taxation law passed by the legislative assembly that will affect the common people already struggling with prolonged electricity shortage in the region.
The protesters, on Friday, said that the “Gilgit-Baltistan Revenue Authority Bill 2022” has imposed new taxes on 135 items, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The bill, that was passed by the assembly for the first time in August this year, was rejected by GB Governor Syed Mehdi Shah in September.
Mehdi Shah had refused to sign the bill and returned it to the assembly for review, the Dawn report said.
According to the Pakistan daily, the bill was again tabled in the assembly and was recently passed for the second time, effectively turning it into law.
Shops in a number of districts remained closed while the traffic on roads was also minimal after the call of GB traders body and hotel association.
In the Nasirabad area of Hunza, where locals took out a rally on Karakoram Highway, the demonstrations held placards and chanted slogans against the new taxes. The protest was against the imposition of new taxes on the people of GB, said Masoodur Rehman, central traders’ body President of Gilgit-Baltistan.
“The imposition of taxes on 135 items will affect the poor people,” Rehman said. While pointing to the taxes imposed to over 100 items, the trade body chief said people were already suffering losses due to prolonged electricity shortage in the region.
According to Rehman, the Shehbaz Sharif government was imposing the taxes under various names without granting constitutional rights to the people of GB. He further warned, “This is a token protest, if the government doesn’t reverse the bill, the next course of action will be more aggressive.”