Gilgit-Baltistan : The Newly Developing Dynamics of Conflict
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 25 Nov 2021

Gilgit-Baltistan : The Newly Developing Dynamics of Conflict

Pakistan’s Attempt at Provincializing the Region

Presages Racial & Cultural Ruin

 

By Onkareshwar Pandey

An interesting report by The Pakistani English daily, Dawn, has recently unraveled how the Chinese Government has contributed to distribute some 30,000 food packets among Gilgit-Baltistan’s underprivileged communities. The packets were reportedly delivered to Khalid Khursheed, chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan who belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party of Imran Khan.

 

November 25, 2021


The need for the food packets has arisen as the region is reeling under the debilitating effects of uncontrolled inflation. In fact entire Pakistan is suffering from a huge financial and resource crunch. But while the others have some means to stay afloat, places like Gilgit-Baltistan, already teetering under the burden of extreme poverty, are literally tearing apart.

 

What chance do these people have when even the lower-and middle-income classes are struggling to buy basic food items? On top of it, the Corona epidemic has severely impacted whatever little business activity was happening in the region.

The people have taken to the streets in order to compel the government to check the spiralling inflation. They are openly putting the blame on the ruling PTI and specifically its leader Prime Minister Imran Khan whom they define as unscrupulous and inept. However, protest did not yet pay any dividends since there is no one to listen to their voice, with the media put behind an iron wall.

The vibrant Diaspora of the region are the only ones to raise their voice but it seems to be quite inaudible and far away to reach or make even an iota of difference in the daily life of the common man.


It is harrowing  to witness that the proud people of Gilgit-Baltistan who are hard working, honest and fully capable of looking after themselves, and also the proud inheritors of vast natural resources, have been reduced to a level where they have to subsist on food doled out by a foreign power. The effusive thanks that Chief Minister Khalid Khursheed extended to the Chinese for the same was akin to putting salt on the wounds inflited on his very people by  extreme humiliation.


The federal government, through its stooges, is attempting to build trust in the minds of the locals towards the Chinese, whose increased presence in the region, to the extent of permanent settlement, has become a necessity since the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is manned exclusively by them. The few locals who may be employed in small, menial jobs are reportedly required to learn the Chinese language for which many centres have sprung  up in the region.


The process of Chinese settlement has already commenced with the tacit permission of the stooge government; there is also a talk of welcoming these foreigners and giving to them a “minority status.” It is just a matter of time before the Chinese will come in enough numbers to change the demography of the region. The Xinjiang model to turn the ethnic population into a minority and onward irrelevance will be applied here also.

The political machinations of the ruling federal government are also taking an ominous turn. In December 2020, Prime Minister Khan constituted a 12-member committee to make recommendations about changing the status of Gilgit-Baltistan to a Province of Pakistan. The PTI has already engineered a brutal majority in the Legislative Assembly through outright rigging of votes with active support from the Pakistan Army, and now it is using the same majority to push an joint resolution asking the federal government of the nation to grant it provincial status and provide it with representation in Parliament and other constitutional bodies. The resolution which supports the mandate of the committee, was moved personally by Chief Minister Khalid Khursheed which is enough indication of the importance that the ruling party is giving to the same.

 


Incidentally, there are a lot of corruption allegations against the chief minister himself, in one astounding case he is being accused of shaving off half of a Rs 100 crore budget passed to provide clean drinking water to Gilgit city. How can a corrupt politician of this nature be depended upon to look at the benefit of the people.


Assistance in defending the constitutional rights of the people is coming from India whose diplomatic channels have openly slammed the perfidious attempts by the Government of Pakistan to accord provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan in order to legalise the illegal occupation of the region.

 

The stand taken by India is

“firm rejection of all attempts by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad’s illegal and forcible occupation and initiation of steps to immediately vacate such areas.”


The matter has been further clarified by Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“Such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its illegal occupation, cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan occupied territories,”

Srivastava has stated.


The federal government is exercising a vice-like control over the strategically important and resource rich territory ever since partition of the country, while giving an impression to the world that it is supporting the right to self determination of the people. Since 2009, it has thrown caution to the winds and has been working towards amalgamation of the region as its integral province.


The aforementioned steps are designed to push through the provincial status and further strengthen the vice-like grip on the region. It is also an outcome of the compulsion to assist China in gaining control and thus divert its attention from the abject failure of the CPEC.
Overall, under Imran Khan, Pakistan is playing a very diabolical game in Gilgit-Baltistan. The other leaders also never had much time for the hapless people of this region but what Imran Khan is doing will lead to their annihilation as a distinct racial and cultural entity and will reduce them to the level of serfdom. India needs to remain steadfast on the principled stand that it has taken to assist the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Consistency in application of the pressure holds the key to success in this war of righteousness.

 

IMAGES COURTESY: Baltistan Today; Sara Razi's FB Travel Diaries; MAP Image - Vijayan IAS; & other Representative pics


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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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