Pakistani authorities have finalised a law to award provisional provincial status to strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan.
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Dimensions of the Article:
- Developments in status of Gilgit Baltistan
- Why does Pakistan want to make Gilgit-Baltistan a Province?
- 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.
Developments in status of Gilgit Baltistan
- Gilgit Baltistan has been under Pakistan’s control since 4th November, 1947, following the invasion of Kashmir by tribal militias and the Pakistan army.
- 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.
- Until 2009, the region was simply called Northern Areas and got its present name only with the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order passed by Pakistan in 2009, which replaced the Northern Areas Legislative Council with the Legislative Assembly.
- Gilgit-Baltistan is an autonomous region now and is not a part of the four provinces (namely Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh) in Pakistan. But if the 2021 bill is passed by Pakistan, it will become the 5th province of the country.
- 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.
Why does Pakistan want to make Gilgit-Baltistan a Province?
- Gilgit-Baltistan is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan. It is Pakistan’s only territorial frontier, and thus a land route, with China.
- The Gilgit-Baltistan region is at the centre of the USD 65 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Infrastructure development plan.
- The CPEC has made the region vital for both countries. The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China’’s ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- Some experts on India-Pakistan relations also assert that Pakistan’s decision might have come from India’s reassertion of its claims after the 5th August, 2019 reorganisation of Jammu & Kashmir.
-Source: The Hindu