Pakistan is preparing for yet one more mischief in Jammu and Kashmir. There are hot rumours that she is mulling to declare Gilgit and Baltistan as her fifth province. Even some preliminary legal and constitutional opinions have been framed towards seeing to it that this strategically crucial area is made an integral part of the Pakistan Federation.
Gilgit-Baltistan is strategically important because borders of five countries meet here. With the building of Karakoram Highway by China and Pakistan together strategic importance of the region has increased manifold. However, India has rightly pointed out that integrating GB into Pakistan will be an illegal move and India protests against it. One has to remember that Pakistan has already ceded more than 5,000 sq kilometers of Aksaichin to China and the latter has built a road connection to Tibet via that portion of land. Pakistan has been inviting China for so-called task of building the infrastructure. But China has military objectives also in building a gas pipeline and also railway line across the KKH. This is tantamount to intimidating India and create threat scenario in the region.
The world knows that there is great resentment among the people of Gilgit and Baltistan against Pakistan for latter’s discriminatory treatment of people in Gilgit and Baltistan. They demand independence and even some years ago the High Court of PoK also gave its verdict that “Northern Areas” were part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan has deliberately kept the precise status of GB in a state of controversy. However, we learn that China has categorically told Pakistan to clarify the status of GB if the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was to be given practical shape. China wants the indecisive status of GB to come to an end and that is why Pakistan Government is now mulling the integration of GB into the Pak Federation. If it does so that will be violation of Shimla Agreement and also will vitiate the Resolution of the Indian Parliament saying that PoK and northern areas belong to India and she retains the right of taking these back from illegal occupation by China and Pakistan.
We cannot underestimate the possibility of Pakistan and China together contemplating changing the present status of Gilgit and Baltistan just because both are eager to begin work on prestigious project of CPEC. China has committed 46 billion US dollars for the project and she would not like this big project to run into disputes and counter claims by India. When India conducted the surgical strike across the LoC she said she had not violated any international rule because her troops had entered their own territory. This is the standpoint of Indian Government and the entire country stands behind the Government on this issue.