News Excerpt
Recently, Pakistan government announced the provisional provincial status for Gilgit-Baltistan.  To convert Pakistan occupied Kashmir's (PoK) Gilgit Baltistan as the 5th province of the country. By holding elections in GB, Pakistan is trying to strengthen its claim on the region without addressing the region’s demand for self-determination. India has firmly rejected the attempt by Pakistan to bring "material changes" to a "part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation".

•    Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakistan as an administrative territory, and constituting the northern portion of the larger Kashmir region which has been the subject of a dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947.
•    It is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan. It borders Azad Kashmir to the south, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, the Xinjiang region of China, to the east and northeast, and the Indian-administered union territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the southeast.
•    The region is home to some of the world's highest mountain ranges. The main ranges are the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. The Pamir Mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Three of the world's longest glaciers (Biafo Glacier, Baltoro Glacier, and Batura Glacier) outside the Polar Regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.
•    The region also includes, Deosai Plains, it constitutes the second-highest plateau in the world after Tibet.
•    Through a conspiracy, the Federal government of Pakistan signed the Karachi Agreement with the POJK government in 1949 and carved out G-B from it.

    The region suffers from absolute statelessness and the army has been given a free hand to rule the region. Locals have been hitting the streets to protest against the human rights breaches  carried out by the Pakistani Army.
    According to the International Crisis Group (ICG), the Karachi Agreement, which formed the basis of Pakistan’s administration over G-B, is highly unpopular in the area because G-B was not a party to it even while its fate was being decided upon.
    Incidentally, the Pakistani constitution does not recognise G-B to be a territory of Pakistan. The Unrepresented People’s Organisation (UNPO) has noticed, “In Gilgit-Baltistan, the majority of human rights activists charged with sedition or terrorism for participating in peaceful demonstrations are being tried in front of military anti-terrorism courts outside the scope of the Constitution, which is not applicable in the region, due to the fact that Gilgit-Baltistan is not a part of Pakistan.
    The timing for this assertion over GB and interest in declaring it as a fifth province, conjoins with the Chinese CPEC whose starting point is the region. The disputed legal status of the region is a bane for both Pakistan and China in effecting the CPEC.
    The arrival of CPEC project added to the sufferings of people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Locals see the Chinese hand behind the aggression through which Pakistan is trying to consolidate power and unilaterally merge the area within its territory.
    The 2019 report of OHCHR on Jammu and Kashmir has noted that the fashion in which the CPEC projects are being implemented in G-B, raises issues about the enjoyment of rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Pakistan is a party.
    Wahhabi Sunni workers permanently settle in G-B, further radicalising the region and wiping out the Shia majority and the Chinese are exploiting the local population and local resources of the region.
    Amidst everything, the voices of G-B residents are getting prominence over the global fora and the Pakistani establishment is facing embarrassments to clarify its position and justify its deeds.