Gilgit-Baltistan, September 27: Roads wear a deserted look, shopping and business centres remain shut and attendance in government offices and schools stays thin. This is the situation in Gilgit Baltistan, which is facing sectarian strife. The root cause is the influx of Sunnis from Pakistan – essentially Pashtuns. Since the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto regime in the mid 1970s, Islamabad has been continuously encouraging sectarian polarization in Gilgit-Baltistan. The situation worsened dramatically under General Zia-ul-Haq, when the military dictator encouraged cadres of the radical Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) to extend its activities to the Gilgit-Baltistan region. ISI-backed Sunni extremist organizations are now engaged in activities like bomb blasts and killings that provoke sectarian clashes.