GB CM blames centre for wheat crisis, other issues.

GILGIT -- Amid a shutdown and transport strike across Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday against the land reforms, imposition of taxes, wheat shortage and prolonged blackouts in the region, GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid blamed the federal government for the issues being faced by the people.

Sources said negotiations between the chief minister and representatives of the protesters were held as the ongoing protest in Skardu entered ninth consecutive day amid freezing temperatures, but the protesters refused to call off the sit-in.

Shops, markets and business centres in various areas of 10 districts remained shut while traffic was thin as thousands of workers from different political and religious organisations participated in the demonstrations held in various areas blocking roads.

They chanted slogans against both the federal government and GB government for not solving their demands and vowed to continue their protest till the acceptance of their demands.

Meanwhile, the chief minister, who was accompanied by health minister Haji Gulbar, minister for works Wazir Saleem, agriculture minister Kazim Mesum, and president of Anjuman Tajiran, Skardu, Ghulam Hussain Athar, told a presser at CM House that most of the issues were created by the federal government.

He blamed the federal government for an unprecedented cut in GB budget that he said was used by the centre as a 'tool to put pressurise local government'. He said the PTI government in Gilgit-Baltistan had to allocate funds for wheat supply from its own budget after the federal government reduced the number of wheat bags from 1.6 million to 1.4m per year.

The GB government would convene a multi-party conference to discuss the issues, including budget cut, he said.

The chief minister said since land reforms was top priority of the PTI government, the GB Land Reforms Committee met on Thursday so that a comprehensive law related to land could be introduced to provide 'actual ownership of lands to locals'. He pledged that the PTI government would protect 'land rights of residents'.

Meanwhile, demonstrations were staged in Gilgit, Skardu, Nagar, Hunza, Ghizer, Ghanche, Shigar, Kharmang, Astore and Diamer, where...

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