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Gilgit and Baltistan can cause fresh tensions between India and Pakistan

Last Updated on September 29, 2020 at 7:34 pm

The tension at the border that took place due to a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers is not cooling down and another tension has arisen for India.

In order to gain full control of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, Islamabad has decided to upgrade its status as the fifth province of Pakistan. According to the experts, the Pakistani government made this move after the Chinese government ordered them as this step of Pakistan could escalate the tensions between India and China and could even lead to a war between India against Pakistan and China. The Indian government has raised objections against the scheduled elections in Gilgit and Baltistan. 

Gilgit-Baltistan was earlier known as Northern areas and is governed by Pakistani administration but it has a portion of the larger Ladakh region which has been a matter of dispute since 1947 between India and Pakistan. The territory shares its borders with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). G-B is 6 times larger in terms of size than PoK. The territory also shares a border with the Union Territory of J&K and Ladakh and is separated by the Line Of Control (LOC). The territory covers an area of 28,174 sq. meters and has a population of 1.8 million in 2015. 

On 30 April, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Islamabad headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed gave permission to the Pakistan government to hold free and fair elections in G-B and to set up a government there that will be responsible for organizing smooth elections. Due to the situation of Coronavirus lockdown a formal order was mailed to Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi.

On Monday the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a strong protest against an order by Pakistan’s Supreme Court which allowed the Pakistani government to hold elections in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. The government said that it has issued a demarche to protest against Pakistan’s attempt to make material changes to the disputed area, by bringing federal authority to G-B which has been functioning as a provincial autonomous region since 2009.

MEA spokesperson while reacting to the order said that the government of Pakistan has occupied the territories illegally and forcibly. India is completely against these actions by the Pakistani government and the continued attempts by the Pakistani government to bring material changes in Pok. Instead of this, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.

Pakistan’s MoFA has responded to the demarche which India has issued by saying that the Indian government abolished article 370 last year in August illegally and violated the UNSC resolutions. The MoFA also said that the entire state of J&K is a disputed territory and is recognized as such by the International community.

The Pakistani government is giving the final touch to the plan of provisionally making the Gilgit-Baltistan region a part of Pakistan. This move by the Pakistani government is expected to give rise to the military tensions between India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s this move of making G-B, the fifth province will be seen by India and the USA as a decision greatly influenced by China. 

China has repeatedly criticized India’s decision of abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories at UNSC. The Indian government has responded to China’s criticism by saying not to comment on the internal affairs of other countries. China’s interest in Gilgit-Baltistan rises from the strategic importance of the China-Pakistan trade. The Chinese government has invested more than $60 billion in the project of CPEC and, is trying to develop infrastructure in the region to boost the trade. All these will generate more revenue and will improve the economy of both countries. 

Giving a conformation on the elections in G-B Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan at UNGA told that India was planning another ill-activity in the nuclearised environment but Pakistan was ready to fight for its freedom till the end. Khan also urged the UN Security Council to play its role in stopping India’s schemes which could endanger the entire region.

Imran Khan in his tweet described Kashmir as a nuclear flash point. He said that there is no durable peace and stability in South Asia until the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved on the basis of international legitimacy.  According to the reports, Pakistan is holding elections in Gilgit-Baltistan on 15 November after the order from Pakistan’s Supreme Court.