Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
- Prime Minister Imran Khan has angered India after declaring that part of the contested Kashmir region will provisionally become a full province of Pakistan.
- Any change in status would require a constitutional amendment. If finalised, it would make Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan’s fifth province.
- Pakistan has administered the area now known as Gilgit-Baltistan since shortly after the country’s birth in 1947, but New Delhi asserts the mountainous territory bordering China and Afghanistan is an integral part of Kashmir.
China has spent years building infrastructure projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, home to an estimated 1.3 million people, including a long stretch of the Karakoram Highway, a key component to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
India’s View of ‘Illegal occupation’
- India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “Such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its illegal occupation, cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan-occupied territories.”
- Two of the three wars the rival neighbours have fought since independence have been over Kashmir — home to shrinking Himalayan glaciers seen as vital lifelines to the water stressed countries.
- Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the disputed territories of India.
- It is a chunk of high-altitude territory located on the north western corner of the Union Territory of Ladakh.
- It is located strategically as it borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.
- The region was a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, but has been under Pakistan’s control since 4th November, 1947, following the invasion of Kashmir by tribal militias and the Pakistan army.
- Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra ruler of J&K, had signed the Instrument of Accession with India on 26th October 1947.
- India moved to the United Nations Security Council to raise the issue of Pakistan’s invasion on 1st January 1948.
- The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for Pakistan to withdraw from all of Jammu and Kashmir and then India had to reduce its forces to the minimum level following which a plebiscite would be held to ascertain people’s wishes.
- However, no withdrawal was ever carried out and it remains a point of contention between two countries.
- The Gilgit-Baltistan region is at the centre of USD 65 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor Infrastructure development plan.
-Source: The Hindu