A research team from the Centre for Social and Political Research visited Gilgit Baltistan to hold a series of talks with political representatives, social leaders as well as the local people to probe into the historical background, public opinion and political dynamics that revolve around the decision of Pakistani state to grant a provisional provincial status to the region. This report also examines the topic on the macro level discussing international conflicts regarding this region and the micro level as well discovering the cultural factors that determine the public opinion.
It is clear that misleading claims wherever they originate from, deeply hurt the sentiment and struggle of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who have rallied for years in order to receive their constitutional rights and be consolidated with Pakistan. All such fabricated claims are an attempt to deny the people of Gilgit-Baltistan their desire to receive proper provincial status.
The recent development in making Gilgit-Baltistan a province is a faint ray of hope for the 2 million population of Gilgit Baltistan. It has been the misfortune of Gilgit-Baltistan that the educated young generation here is still unable to think of the homeland. If the nation’s youth are deprived of the ability to think, and the purpose of education is only part of the employment. It is useless to pin hopes on the future of this nation. But even today, there is no shortage of people in this nation who have pain for the region who can play a savior role in the region’s future deprivations.
The question of provincializing Gilgit-Baltistan has haunted Pakistan time and again since the former’s unconditional accession in 1948. PTI government is grappling with similar challenges but came up with a resolute intention to make the territory – the fifth province of Pakistan, unlike her predecessor regimes. India has warned Islamabad of possible violations of her international commitments and deliberate alienation of Wilsonian right of self-determination for the long-troubled Kashmiris. Yet, it doesn’t appear to be affecting the government’s policy in any visible manner.
The press conference conducted by the federal minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ali Amin Gandapur, announced elections for the Gilgit Baltistan assembly on November 15, 2020. And at the same time, the federal minister circulated the news of granting provisional provincial autonomy to Gilgit Baltistan, which Prime Minister Imran Khan would officially announce soon. This news has brought in sharp reactions from the neighbor India.
It is a fact that Gilgit-Baltistan has become increasingly important since the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC), and the eyes of the world are now on Gilgit-Baltistan. The region is also involved in the Great Game between the world’s great powers. It is noteworthy that the decision to form the government has signaled a new interim province. However, how it will happen, no details have been revealed.