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Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the formerly princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, then called Kashmir and Jammu.Under the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, the princely state consisted of five regions.

The five regions were: Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit Wazarat, and Gilgit Agency.

Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent statement in the Parliament has sufficiently amplified India’s broadened vision that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir including the so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit- Baltistan (G-B) belong to India.

Where is Gilgit Baltistan located?

Geographically, Gilgit-Baltistan is situated in the trans-Himalayan region on the northwestern corner of the Kashmir Valley, a part of which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan since it invaded the region after the partition of India.

Thus Located in the northern Pakistan. It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west, Tajikistan in the north west and Kashmir in the south east.

It shares a geographical boundary with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK.

It has a regional assembly and an elected Chief Minister.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also passes through this region.

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight- thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft).

Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an area of 13,297 sq km, which was under the control of the Pakistani forces when the ceasefire line came into effect on January 1, 1949. That was after a 14-month period of hostilities between India and Pakistan, which began with an invasion of Kashmir by Pashtun tribesmen, and later its Army, to seize Kashmir.

The Pakistani occupation

The British sold it, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846, but retained controlled over the area through a lease extracted from the Maharaja.

This lease was last renewed in 1935. In 1947, a British army officer of the rank of Colonel imprisoned Maharaja Hari Singh’s governor in the region, and handed over the area for accession to Pakistan.

Recent developments

Pakistan, in 2017, proposed to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth Province.

Gilgit- Baltistan is part of J&K and any such move would seriously damage Pakistan’s Kashmir case. Two UN resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 clearly established a link between GB and the Kashmir issue.

Making the region its fifth province would thus violate the Karachi Agreement — perhaps the only instrument that provides doubtful legal authority to Pakistan’s administration of GB — as well as the UN resolutions that would damage its position on the Kashmir issue.

Any such move would also be violative of the 1963 Pak-China Boundary Agreementthat calls for the sovereign authority to reopen negotiations with China “after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India” and of the 1972 Simla Agreement that mentions that “neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation”.

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