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Gilgit Baltistan Region Issue

The Gilgit Baltistan was a region of princely state of India ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. Before independence; a rebellion occurred and rebels established an independent rule for a short time. After that; keeping view of the Muslim predominance in the region; it has been merged with Pakistan but still the region is neither recognized as a part of Pakistan even by Pakistan supreme court nor it remains a part of India. The region has not fully integrated with Pakistan; being governed through special arrangements such as caretaker governments or special secretaries; inhabitants are still not given true representation

Geo-political importance:

  1. The demarcated ceasefire line between India and Pakistan that is Siachen is situated here. It has already led to many conflicts between the two countries. Gilgit-Baltistan bears strategic importance from the security and defense point of view. Also, control of Siachen glacier provides significant upper hand to Indian Army in the Kashmir region.
  2. Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan connecting Afghanistan to India is situated in Gilgit. In view of geopolitical importance of Afghanistan specially regarding recent changes of political scenario and withdrawal of American soldiers ; this connecting link is vital.
  3. Karakoram pass linking Pakistan to china is situated in Gilgit.
  4. China has active presence here through investments in various projects. Shares borders with China: under Chinese proposal of “CPEC”; the region will attract massive Chinese investment to boost regional & Pakistani economy; enhances Sino-Pak ties; region is essential to Chinese strategic vision.
  5. This region has been used by various successive governments as a ground to itch communal conflict between Shia and Sunni for political purpose. Gilgit-Baltistan is Shia dominated region. It has been at receiving ends from Sunni terror groups; influx of Sunni from rest of Pakistan has led to ethnic conflicts.
  6. Highly militarized. India China and Pakistan maintain heavy military presence around the region. Besides the LoC Indian troops occupy the Siachen Glacier while Chinese troops are also present on the Karakoram pass.
Therefore, any flare-up or escalation around this region could become the focal point of a larger conflict.
Chinese inroads into the region should be cause of worry for India; as it will undermine India’s regional interests and surround India along Land borders.

Current Affairs 2020

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