Pakistan set to elevate Gilgit Baltistan to provincial status

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is set to elevate Gilgit Baltistan to provincial status and with this single move it will be able to meet at least seven decades old demand of people of

Gilgit-Baltistan to merge with main land constitutionally, secure vital geo-strategic route of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and protect tourism, economic water and energy interests with construction of Bunji and Diamer-Bhasha dams.

However, few quarters have raised objections to the move on varying narratives which need to be addressed. All stakeholders including key political parties have agreed to the proposal for granting provisional provincial status to the Gilgit Baltistan. The decision will meet long term aspirations of people and will help address local concerns and issues of representation.

In September 2020, the government of Pakistan announced its intention to make Gilgit-Baltistan an interim province that had representation in the parliament. On November 1, 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that his government would give the provisional provincial status to the region.

The government also issued a new political map on August 4, 2020, showing the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan as a disputed region awaiting settlement based on the United Nations Security Council resolution.

On March 9, 2021, the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly unanimously adopted a resolution to make the region an interim province of the country. The resolution stated that a bill to amend the constitution of Pakistan to declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province should be passed keeping in view Pakistan’s principal stance on Kashmir.

The opposition parties have agreed in principle to support the move to make

Gilgit-Baltistan an interim province. The people of the region wanted their area to be merged into Pakistan and be declared as a separate province.

This action will have no negative effects on the Kashmir issue as it will be linked to the final settlement of the issue based on Pakistan’s principal stand. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan will continue to support their Kashmiri brothers politically and morally.

Pakistan is only granting provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan while its stance on United Nations Security Council resolution on Kashmir remained the same. Pakistan and China jointly built Karakoram through Gilgit-Baltistan while China Pakistan Economic Corridor followed the same route.

Leadership of Kashmir has been taken into confidence and they already understood that India relied on twisting of facts and fake news on this issue.

Pakistan’s political and military leadership had raised the issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir on international forums including United Nations Security Council, UN General Assembly and human rights organizations and announcing that there was no compromise on right of self-determination of Kashmiris.

Past government followed a policy of appeasement of India and put the Kashmir issue at the back burner. Such stance on Kashmir encouraged Modi to change the status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

People of Gilgit-Baltistan fought for liberation of Gilgit-Baltistan and have demanded for provisional status of a province, the new arrangement would have a provision to cater for plebiscite as per United Nations Security Council resolution for final settlement of the issue.

Grant of provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan will be a landmark step in opening new avenues of development for the area. The Prime Minister is expected to also make an important statement regarding granting Gilgit-Baltistan the status of a province of Pakistan. The federal government has already embarked upon a comprehensive programme for development of tourism in Northern Areas, a region second to none in beauty, charm and hospitality in the world. China Pakistan Economic Corridor related infrastructural developments have further eased the traveling and will contribute to positive developments.