Wincent Churchill said, “We shall not fail or falter. We shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”
The above is apt in the present scenario of ongoing covert war in J&K. The Indian forces have neither failed nor faltered in their duty, they have neither weakened nor are tired; their vigilance has neither plummeted nor have they exerted. They only wait for orders to march ahead and finish the unfinished task.
This month, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) started reflecting region-wise forecasts of Jammu and Kashmir as “Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad”. The IMD move was not only to reflect the changed weather status of Union Territories but also to convey a significant message underlying holistic claim over entire Kashmir being part of the former princely state which is integral to the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja.
Gilgit Baltistan, originally the part of larger Jammu and Kashmir, is surrounded by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor to the North, China’s Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region to the North-West, Ladakh to the East and Kashmir to the South. The geo tri junction of the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Pamir, make Gilgit- Baltistan a unique natural scenic beauty that oversees the entire region of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Kashmir, Ladakh, Xinjiang and Wakhan Corridor. Apart from several high-altitude lakes, the region is also home to three of world’s longest glaciers, including the world’s highest war field, the Siachen glacier. Resourcefully, rich in mineral deposits, the region remains untapped to generate wealth. The region is a gateway to West, Central and South Asia making it a politico military conflict flash point.
Gilgit Baltistan, lost its sovereignty since 1948 due to forcible occupation and multiple atrocities inflicted upon by Pakistan which range from exiles, killings, jails & seizure of bank accounts to confiscation of properties for raising any voice on political and economic rights. Reportedly, Turkish and Arabs are secretly being established and settled in the region to compromise Baloch sovereignty and change its demography. Sunni masses are increasingly seen colonizing the area. It is a safe haven for every major terror outfit organization from JeM to HM sponsored, protected and fostered by ISI aimed to destabilizing India and annexing Kashmir. Losing Gilgit-Baltistan will therefore, be a catastrophic and calamitous both for Pakistan and its all weather friend China.
For China, the strategy of revival and expansion of silk route is the plan of accessing the west, most notably Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The CPEC part of BRI $ 60 billion project is a part of game plan to enhance influence through rail, road and gas pipeline to the Central and West Asia by linking Gwadar to Xingjiang through Gilgit. The CPEC project is to establish authoritarian control over Pak and its surrounding borders. Both CPEC and Karakoram projects pass through Gilgit and Baltistan making it the most fragile and volatile region.
China is repeatedly involved in border provocation and aggression, has been economically riveting Pak and Nepal against India. The recent Ladakh standoff and incursions are seen a stunt smoke screen and a diversionary tactics from Wuhan Covid spread, trembling economy, Taiwan and Honkong crises. Jack of all sleights, PLA have bolstered their presence, reportedly around Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi, to hinder Indian troop patrolling around the area. May it not be out of place to mention that 73 days standoff in Doklam tri junction in 2017 triggered fears of war between the two nuclear countries. Its claim over Arunachal Pradesh is also seen an expansionist agenda, a will-o-the-wisp of Beijing. With this multiple border impasse, the battle and win over Gilgit Baltistan will be strategically cul-de-sacs and worst nightmare for both China and Pakistan.
Since partition, Pakistan has been eyeing on the part of J&K under Indian occupation. It sent mercenaries, marauders, lost four wars and has been actively involved in terrorism. In the past, it forced to take over PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan even before the Indian Army could retaliate. Errors in the judgment of the Maharaja to entrust his forces to British officer, Col Sher Jung Thapa’s besieging by Gilgit Scouts and some political blunders were major factors of losing the regions. Now that India, recently, upped the ante against Pakistan post Handwara encounter, it has sent a clear message that the entire Jammu and Kashmir including PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan are part of India by virtue of Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja.
Need to be done is, filling up of vacant 24 PoK legislative assembly seats and 7 of parliamentary from refugees living in India and from those who have fled or exiled to other countries. Let, they be given representation and political space after granting citizenship. Let there be member representatives from Baltistan, Gilgit, Pok and Kashmiri Pandits in the state assembly and in the parliament. Let the tribunals and commissions be set up to investigate their atrocities and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. Let India militarily conquer PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan not through Muzaffarabad but through Khapalu and Skardu, not through Jhelum but through the Shyok. It is then Pakistan will rest permanently in slumber of defeat and never rise to challenge integrity and sovereignty of India. It is then our forces will heave a sigh of relief after finishing the unfinished task of securing PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan geo-strategically important for India.