GILGIT: The traders observed shutter down strike in Skardu against imposition of taxes on the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan without determining constitutional statues of the region.

The protesting traders announced to boycott transactions in private and government banks for five days. The protest call was given by Anjuman-i- Tajeeran Skardu. The markets, shops and bazaars in Skardu remained closed from 10 am to 12 noon. People faced difficulties in purchasing daily use items.

A large number of traders and workers of political parties including PPP and PTI gathered at Hussaini Chowk and staged a sit-in. The protesters then started moving toward the press club.

They were chanting slogans against the federal and regional governments for imposing withholding taxes, income taxes and other taxes on local people without declaring Gilgit-Balgistan a constitutional part of the country.

Sartaj Ali Kamal and other leaders of traders said that taxes could not be imposed on people of Gilgit-Baltistan until the region was declared a constitutional part of the country. They said that without representation in National Assembly and Senate, collecting of taxes from people of the region was unjust.

The protesters demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan should be declared a tax-free region. They said that people of the region rendered sacrifices for the country and annexed it into Pakistan unconditionally seven decades ago but the centre did not accept them. They demanded of the prime minister to look into the issue.

The protesters said that a movement would be launched if their demands were not met.

The opposition parties in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, GB Hotel Associations and Contractors Association also opposed imposition of taxes.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017

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