February 28, 2024

Gilgit-Baltistan issue

Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2

Context:

As per media reports, Pakistani authorities have finalized a law to award provisional provincial status to strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan.

About Gilgit-Baltistan

  • Gilgit-Baltistan is thenorthernmost territory administered by Pakistan, providing the country’s only territorial frontier, and thus a land route, with China, where it meets the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
  • It borders PoK to the south, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, the Xinjiang region of China, to the east and northeast, and the Indian-administered union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the southeast.
  • The territory of present-day Gilgit-Baltistan became a separate administrative unit in 1970 under the name “Northern Areas”.

Significance of Gilgit-Baltistan

  • Military significance: In case of a two-front war against India, control over GB region is capable of drastically affecting and determining the outcome. An advanced Air Force base in GB can devastate the enemy’s confidence and steer the movement of conflict to India’s side.
  • Rich in resources: Home to valuable earthy resources, GB is rich in minerals 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.
  • Strategic importance for India: The area’s strategic importance for India has increased in light of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement, under which Beijing is investing hugely to develop the area as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, and the concerns of a two-front war after the standoff in Eastern Ladakh in 2020.

Implications for India

  • The decision by Pakistan is likely to trigger massive outrage as it will have wider repercussions which will aggravate tensions already being played out in the east along the LAC (line of actual control) on the India-China border.

India’s stand

  • India regards Gilgit-Baltistan as Indian Territory. A part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan comprises a major chunk of the territory Pakistan occupied during its war with India that year. Gilgit-Baltistan together with Azad Kashmir is referred to by New Delhi as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
  • According to the Indian argument, since Gilgit-Baltistan was a part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, whose Maharaja acceded to India, it is legally India’s

Way Forward:

Trilateral dialogue: India, Pakistan and China should begin a trilateral dialogue for dispute-resolution, cooperation and common development. The problems in Jammu and Kashmir have become trilateral in nature, especially after the India-China standoff at the LAC in eastern Ladakh. Therefore, the solutions to these problems, acceptable to all concerned, can only come out of a trilateral dialogue.

The Indian Express Link:

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/why-gilgit-baltistan-matters-to-india-and-pakistan-7435353/

Question- What are the implications of Gilgit Baltistan region fro India’s security point of view?

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