J&K – The issues around the state

Back in news: Gilgit-Baltistan

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From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gilgit Baltistan

Mains level : Not Much

gilgit

Defence Minister has said that the mission of full integration of Jammu & Kashmir that started on August 5, 2019 will be complete when Gilgit-Baltistan and areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) will reunite with India.

Gilgit-Baltistan: How Pakistan occupied it?

  • During the first Indo-Pak war of October 1947, Pakistan occupied 78,114 sq. km of the land of Jammu and Kashmir, including the ‘Northern Areas’.
  • The Northern Areas is the other name of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) that Pakistan has used for administrative reasons because it was a disputed territory.
  • In 2020, it became the fifth State of Pakistan after Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

GB through history

  • The political nature of Gilgit-Baltistan has been directionless from the beginning.
  • Pakistan initially governed the region directly from the central authority after it was separated from ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ on April 28, 1949.
  • On March 2, 1963, Pakistan gave away 5,180 sq km of the region to China, despite local protests.
  • Under PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the name of the region was changed to the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA).
  • Pakistan passed the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order in 2009, which granted “self-rule” to the ‘Northern Areas’.

Its geographical features

  • It is home to K-2, the second-tallest mountain in the world.
  • Tourism remains restricted by many factors, including military hostility, though the region has some of ancient Buddhist sculptures and rock edicts.
  • It is also home to an old Shia community, which often finds itself subjected to persecution in Pakistan’s urban centers.
  • At present, a Governor and an elected Chief Minister rule the region, which is divided into Gilgit, Skardu, Diamer, Astore, Ghanche, Ghizer and Hunza-Nagar.

Geographic significance of the region

  • Geographic tri-junction of Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Pamir, GB possesses the most startling views of natural beauty.
  • Apart from several high-altitude lakes, the region is also home to three of world’s longest glaciers outside of the polar region, including the world’s highest war field, the Siachen glacier.

Strategic importance of GB

  • GB is home to some of the world’s most important and contentious strategic points capable of creating unremitting wars.
  • The region holds extreme volatility and if gets subjected to desuetude can cause a ruckus in the entire regions of South Asia, Central Asia and China, ultimately affecting the entire world.
  • The mountain province consists of 3 core divisions: Gilgit, Baltistan and Diamer.
  • This region is further divided into 10 districts along with its Shaksgam valley – which was gifted to China by occupier Pakistan in 1963 border agreement – of 5,180 square km.

Economic Potential

  • Home to valuable earthy resources, GB is rich in mineral deposits.
  • These include metallic, non-metallic, energy minerals, precious stones and different rocks of industrial use.
  • The southern areas of this region have substantial deposits of nickel, lead, copper and zircon.
  • In its northern regions, it contains deposits of iron, silver, gold, garnet and topaz.
  • Almost all of its mining potential is untapped and capable of generating ample wealth.

Chinese vested interest

  • Gilgit-Baltistan is important for China as it is the gateway for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
  • Significantly, the ongoing stand-off with China at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh has a Gilgit-Baltistan connection.
  • The Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road of India is viewed as a tactical roadway to access the Karakoram Pass, which provides China crucial access to Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan.

Why should India reclaim GB?

  • Gilgit Baltistan is an integral part of Indian Territory illegally occupied by Pakistan.
  • It is the key to the destruction of Chinese influence in South Asia; the string of China-Pakistan’s pearl necklace and also the Brahmastra for India against China.
  • India controlling GB can turn out to be the worst nightmare for China and eventually for Pakistan

Can India take back the BG/POK?

  • India can certainly get back POK, Gilgit-Baltistan as all of that territory belongs to India.
  • However, military use could trigger a nuclear response from Pakistan as the trigger is in the hands of terrorists and the army.
  • Diplomatic channels are another option but it will take too much time.
  • Pakistan now is appearing to destabilize all way worse than Sri Lanka did. It might collapse some day in near future.

 

Try this PYQ:

If you travel through the Himalayas, you are likely to see which of the following plants naturally growing there?

  1. Oak
  2. Rhododendron
  3. Sandalwood

Select the correct option using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.
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