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Current Affairs

Importance of Gilgit-Baltistan to India and Pakistan

Date: 04 August 2021 Tags: India & World

Issue

A draft legislation for bringing Gilgit-Baltistan as a part of Pakistan is being prepared by its Ministry of Law and Justice.

 

Background

The Gilgit-Baltistan area was known as Northern Areas before 2009. India has not yet responded to the moves made by the Pakistan.

 

Details

  • India considers Gilgit-Baltistan as integral part of the country as a virtue of the instrument of accession of Jammu and Kashmir signed in 1947.

  • The area has become more strategic for India after the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was conceived, which passes through this region.

  • China has invested heavily in development of the region, which incidentally also comes under its grand Belt and Road Initiative.

  • After the standoff in Ladakh, India is increasingly concerned about a potential two-front war in future.

 

The history

  • Gilgit-Baltistan region was ruled directly by the British after taking it on lease. It was part of princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • The Gilgit scouts led by British commander rose in rebellion after the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir acceded his state to Union of India.

  • Baltistan was then part of Ladakh but was captured by the Gilgit scouts. Kargil, Dras and Skardu were also taken but won back by Indian forces.

  • Revolutionary Council of Gilgit-Baltistan, a political outfit had earlier declared independence but later acceded to Pakistan.

 

Constitutional status

  • Pakistan’s 1974 constitution names only Punjab, Sind, Balochistan and Khyber Pakthunkhwa as its four provinces.

  • Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir were not given such status as it would have undermined Pakistan’s case at the UN regarding self determination in form of plebiscite.

  • The residents of Shia-dominated Northern Areas were considered Pakistani citizens but they were outside the constitutional protection given to residents of the main four provinces.

 

The reason for changes

  • The complete inclusion of the province into the country was necessitated after China’s mega-construction works.

  • The region is the only link between Pakistan and China through land. It is partly due to Chinese pressure that Pakistan is planning to change the status.

  • There is also a belief that Pakistan has accepted the Indian changes to Jammu and Kashmir by formally inducting this part of the territory into their country.