Gilgit Baltistan is located in north of Pakistan. It borders China in North East and Afghanistan in west and Indian occupied Kashmir in South. Here are facts about GilgitBaltistan that may amaze you.
The strategic importance of Gilgit Baltistan is well known in the world. Before 1947 Russia tried to make a deal with local Rajas of Hunza in order to access India and Arabian Sea. But British took over the area from Maharaja Jammu Kashmir. British separated Gilgit and Ladakh Baltitan and created Gilgit Agency. In fact British leased the area until 1947. After that British gave back the area to Maharaja Jammu. But again British feared due to India Russia relation. So Major Brown convinced local people to revolt against Maharaja and Indian troops. The local people fought against Maharaja Jammu and captured Gurze valley and Kargil. On another side tribal militias and local people of Punch captured many areas in Kashmir. In fear of that Maharaja Jammu annexed Jammu Kashmir with India but fighting continues until 1948 when India went to United Nation. After that the Kashmir issue is still hanging. Gilgit Baltistan is then directly controlled by federal government of Pakistan through various systems and orders.
GB is located in between Karakoram and Himalayas worlds highest mountains.
Longest glaciers outside polar region are found here like Baltoro,Batura and Hispar.
GB is multi lingual and culturally diverse area. More than 6 languages are spoken.
Fresh and Dry Fruits
Top quality fruits are produced.
FACTS ABOUT GILGIT- BALTISTAN
1) NATURAL RESOURCES
Blessed with the nature’s boon and plethora of natural resources and minerals in the area, the area of Gilgit-Baltistan region is rich in the possession of metallic, non-metallic, energy minerals, precious/dimension stones and different rocks of industrial use. It has a very high capacity stores of gold and base metals extraction. It also has copper in the Skardu and Shigar districts of the area. It also has a huge reserves of precious gemstones and the areas have been notified and acknowledged. Some rich minerals include granite, copper, arsenic, palladium etc.
Gold has been spotted and extracted from time immemorial in the areas of Hunza, Ghizer and near the Indus river.
Problems which relate to it are the usage of old technologies for mining which means the blasting techniques, which results in the loss of around 75% of the total yield.
This industry has a lot of scope and space to flourish in the region. The tourism industry is the image booster of any country. It places you among one of the most prosperous, rich countries. Tourism industry works as a branding industry and an perception changer for any country. Same ways the region of Gilgit- Baltistan is blessed with a natural beauty and a mesmerising sceneries of the nature. The nature’s gift is showered on the region and hence rightly proving it as a heaven on earth. It has the Worlds Most Famous Mountain Ranges The Himalayas, Karakorum & Hindukush. It also has a range of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, game reserves etc. By being a part of India and its rich heritage and culture , it also posses and has a rich culture of hospitality and heritage. It has UNESCO world heritage sites, Historical forts, traces of the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim empire, arcahelogical sites etc.
The problems with this industry is that it has yielded years of ignorance from the authorities. Its tourism potential has not been utilised to its full extent because of apathy shown by the governments. Absense of tourism policy, lack of security providing, lack of trust among people because of its location and the image of Pakistan as one of the world’s dangerous country adds to all the misery about this industry and not realising its full potential.
3) HYDRO POWER POTENTIAL
The region of gilgit-baltistan is also blessed with water resources because of the rivers and the glaciers. It is the water bank due to these regions. It’s Catchment Area is 72496 Sq Km, which include about 27 % glaciers, the biggest in the world outside polar region. One of the sources of the hydro is power through its river Indus which has 06 (Olding River, Shyoke River, Shigar River, Gilgit River, Hunza River & Astore River). Hydro power potential on Main Tributaries & Indus River is 40,000 MW.
Between the 7th and the 19th century Gilgit or the northern parts were ruled by Tarakhans of Gilgit, Maghloths of Nagar, Ayasho of Hunza, Burshai of Punyal, Maqpoons of Skardu, Anchans of Shigar, Yabgos of Khaplu. These were the dynasties and rulers of the area. But in the 19th century there were a turn of events as the area came under the rule of Dogra rulers of Kashmir one of the regions ehno-linguistic groups. Following a century old domination and rulership, the local population overthrew the rulers which were lead by Raja Shah Rais Khan and Colonel Mirza Hassan Khan. That rule only lasted for 16 days as the control of the region was given to the Maharaj Hari Singh of Kashmir by virtue of Indian Independence Act 1947. Later it was attacked and intruded by the kabalis of Pakistan and is under their illegal occupation since then.
5) WATER RESOURCES
This area is blessed with fresh and plethora of water resources where three of the four glaciers are situated in this region outside the polar regions. It has a rich potential of the fresh water resources. Biafo Glacier, Baltoro Glacier and Batura Glacier are situated there as the biggest glaciers of the world outside polar regions. Besides these around 5000 smaller glaciers and around 2500 smaller glacial lakes are situated in the region. The best part is that the main resources have not been utilised and use and are raw and fresh. But there is a threat to the natural resources of water as Pakistan is trying to build around mega dams project, ignoring the protocol between India and Pakistan and ignoring the UNCIP.
6) STRATEGIC LOCATION
One of the most important aspect of the region is that it is an area having a strategic importance for India. It is a gateway through the central Asia, and also the middle east. It can give us a direct land access to the European markets as well. It is highly rich on minerals and resources and is strategically placed. Without that area Gwadar is of no use to China, the hostile conditions of our Jawans in the Siachen Glacier can be done away with once we have our control over this area. The TAPI or the IPI gasline projects have a future because of this region. With our direct access to the border of Afghanistan by having this area by Wakhan corridor, the Pakistan and the Terrorism problem can be contained. An important area which also links us to the countries in the central Asia where we can have our direct access to the countries like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan Kazakhstan etc and can have a limiting effect of china’s dominance in the region. The energy rich area of the central Asia can be fully utilised and our factors of dominance will increase manifold. This area is important as the major chunk of the CPEC passes through this area and India can be a dominant player in the BRI then. The karakoram highway is one of a kind in the world and is now a booster and a player in connectivity.
7) KARAKORAM HIGHWAY
Karakoram highway is the world’s highest paved international roads which connects Pakistan to China via Khunajarab pass. Khunjarab Pass is near where the world’s five highest mountain ranges Himalayas, the Karakorams, the Hindu Kush, the Kunlan Shan and the Tien Shan all meet. Also nearby is 18,000-foot Karakoram Pass which was used by Bactrian camel caravans until it was in he 1950s. Six countries also come together here: China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics of Tajikstan and Kyrgyzstan. The $46 billion China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) which is being built, the karakoram highways is a part of that project. These are the backbone of the CPEC as it connects very difficult and rugged, Mountaineous areas for its trade route.
8) MULTI- CULTURISM
A mixture or a confluence of many cultures and history the area of gilgit-baltistan has many multi ethno-linguistic groups. There are the people who share similarities and co-existence theories with the People of Tibet, Central Asia, people of Ladakh, and Kashmir too. The population of this autonomous region is divided in 4 of the Islamic faith – Shia’s constitute 35%, Sunnis 35%, Ismailis 25% and Noorbukshies are 5%. There are many ethnic groups like shias, Baltis, Yashkuns, Moghal, Kashmiris, Pathans, Laddakis and Turks. This region is also multi-lingual in nature as the languages which are spoken in the region are Balti in Baltistan district, Shina in the districts of Gilgit, Diamer, Astore and some parts of the Hunza Nagar and Skardu. Brushaski is spoken in Hunza and Yasin valley of Ghizer, Khwar in Ghizer and wakhi is spoken in Upper Hunza.
9) SECTARIAN VIOLENCE
The region of Gilgit -Baltistan has been one of the worst affected regions in terms of communal and sectarian violence. Due to the oppressive and a dictatorial regime currently ruling it, the people of the region had paid a price due to their nature and demand of not acceding to Pakistan in 1947. Pakistan has resorted to the state sponsored of sectarian form of violence giving an edge to the Sunni Wahhabis to kill and setlle through the area and reducing the peace loving Shia Populaion. An attempt to change the demography has been underway by the regime and hence it is one of the worst hit areas in Pakistan. As the authorities are mainly Sunni dominated and hence have shown their all efforts to contain and curb Shia population. The violence has been on a rise since 1980’s with the construction of the karakoram highway, which connects this once isolated area to pakistan and Chinese mainland. Now after the developments, there is an attempt to change the demography of this region as the tyrannical regime of Pakistan knows that the people of this region are fed up of their exploitation and hence they do not and had never wanted to be a part Pakistan. By changing the demographic alternatives, then the repressive regime of Pakistan can pursue their agenda.
10) NOT A PROVINCE OF PAKISTAN
The area of Gilgit- Baltistan is not recognised by the Pakistan constitution and it is not even a province nor any special area of Pakistan like Islamabad or FATA. It has an autonomous system of administration with a chief minister and a governor. They all are on the mercy of Pakistan and the leaders their do not have their freedom to express. The government of Pakistan does not involve this region into theirs as they know that it is not theirs legally and nor does it give a right to this people of representation and a free government. People do not have their basic rights like freedom to reside, freedom to express, freedom to speak etc, and it’s a hotspot of human rights violations. Those who speak against the violence are persecuted or killed like one of the political leaders named Baba Jan, who was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment by the Pakistanis. It does not have a proper judiciary, schools, poor growth model, poverty striken area, poor health facilities and poor education system. On the opposition of the CPEC project the locals were killed by the Pakistani forces and persecuted, eliminated and silenced.