Gilgit-Baltistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Gilgit-Baltistan
گلگت - بلتستان
གིལྒིཏ་བལྟིསྟན
Administrative Unit
Gilgit-Baltistān

Flag

Logo
Location of Gilgit-Baltistan, disputed (red) and (white), with Siachen Glacier (1949-1984)
Coordinates: 35°21′N 75°54′E / 35.35°N 75.9°E / 35.35; 75.9Coordinates: 35°21′N 75°54′E / 35.35°N 75.9°E / 35.35; 75.9
Country Pakistan
Established 1 July 1970
Capital Gilgit
Largest city Gilgit
Government
 • Type Autonomous territory of Pakistan
 • Body Legislative Assembly
 • Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah[1]
 • Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah[2]
Area
 • Total 72,496 km2 (27,991 sq mi)
Population (2008; est.)
 • Total 1,800,000
 • Density 24.8/km2 (64.3/sq mi)
Time zone PKT (UTC+5)
ISO 3166 code PK-NA
Main Language(s)
Assembly seats 33[3]
Districts 7
Towns 7

Gilgit Baltistan, (formerly known as the Northern Areas), (Urdu: گلگت بلتستان) is the northern political entity within the Pakistan-administered Kashmir. It is part of the former princely state of Kashmir and Jammu (now held by India). It shares borders with Pakistan proper to the west, Afghanistan to the north, China to the northeast, the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir also part of P.A.K. to the south, and the Indian controlled disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. Gilgit Baltistan, which became a single administrative unit in 1970, was formed from the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar. Gilgit Baltistan remains part of the Kashmir dispute and is claimed by India as part of its state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan regards the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir as "territory in dispute" to be resolved by a plebiscite to be held throughout the former state in order to determine the area's accession to either India or Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan is governed by a Governor and a Chief minister, the latter elected by a legislative assembly. Gilgit Baltistan covers 72,971 km² (28,174 mi²).

Semi-autonomous status and present-day Gilgit-Baltistan[change | edit source]

On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the country's President. The order granted self-rule to the people of the former Northern Areas, now renamed Gilgit-Baltistan, by creating, among other things, an elected legislative assembly. There has been criticism and opposition to this move in Pakistan, India, and Gilgit-Baltistan.[4][5]

Gilgit Baltistan United Movement—while rejecting the new package—demanded that an independent and autonomous legislative assembly for Gilgit-Baltistan should be formed with the installation of local authoritative government as per the UNCIP resolutions, where the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will elect their president and the prime minister.[6]

In early September 2009, Pakistan signed an agreement with the People's Republic of China for a mega energy project in Gilgit-Baltistan which includes the construction of a 7,000-megawatt dam at Bunji in the Astore District.[7] This also resulted in protest from India, although Indian concerns were immediately rejected by Pakistan, which claimed that the Government of India has no locus standi in the matter.[8]

On 29 September 2009, the Pakistani Prime Minister, while addressing a huge gathering in Gilgit-Baltistan, announced a multi-billion rupee development package aimed at the socio-economic uplifting of people in the area. Development projects will include the areas of education, health, agriculture, tourism and the basic needs of life.[9][10][11] The Prime Minister further went on to say:

"You are getting your identity today. It is your right and has been your demand, and today we are fulfilling it."[12] Gilgit–Baltistan thus gained de facto province-like status without constitutionally becoming part of Pakistan.[13][14] The official poistion of Pakistan has rejected Gilgit–Baltistani calls for integration with Pakistan on the grounds that it would prejudice its international obligations with regard to the Kashmir dispute.

An attempt in 1993 by the High Court of Azad Kashmir to annex Gilgit–Baltistan was quashed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, after protests by the predominantly Shia population of Gilgit–Baltistan, who feared domination by the Sunni Kashmiris.[15]

Government[change | edit source]

The Government of Gilgit Baltistan also known as the State Government of the Northern Areas, is the highest governing authority of the territory and its 7 districts. It consists of an executive, led by the Governor of Gilgit Baltistan, a judiciary and a legislative branch.

Like other states in India, the head of state of Gilgit Baltistan is the governor. The governor is chosen by the President of Pakistan on the advice of the central government. The governor's post is largely ceremonial. It does not have much power. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is holds most of the executive powers.

The Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly is a 33-seat unicameral legislative body. It was formed as part of the Gilgit–Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009. This order gave the region self-rule and an elected legislative assembly.[16][17] Before this, the region had been directly ruled from Islamabad.

Districts of Gilgit Baltistan[change | edit source]

Geography and climate[change | edit source]

K2 as seen from Concordia
Satpara Lake, Skardu, in 2002

Gilgit–Baltistan borders the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang to the northeast, the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir to the south and southeast, the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south, and Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west.

Gilgi-Baltistan is home to five of the "eight-thousanders" and to more than fifty peaks above 7000 meters. Gilgit and Skardu are the two main hubs for expeditions to those mountains. 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. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) and Nanga Parbat, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.

The Deosai Plains are located above the tree line, and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world at 4,115 meters (14,500 feet) after the Chinese region of Tibet. The plateau lies east of Astore, south of Skardu and west of Ladakh. The area was declared as a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover an area of almost 5,000 square kilometres. For over half the year (between September and May), Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from rest of Astore & Baltistan in winters. The village of Deosai lies close to Chilum chokki and is connected with the Kargil District of Ladakh in the occupied Kashmir disputed region through an all-weather road.

References[change | edit source]

  1. "Pir Karam Ali Shah appointed GB Governor". The News. 2011-01-26. http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=10133. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  2. "Associated Press Of Pakistan ( Pakistan's Premier NEWS Agency ) - Public service policy to be pursued in Gilgit-Baltistan: PM". Ftp.app.com.pk. http://ftp.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=92218&Itemid=1. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  3. Legislative Assembly will have directly elected 24 members, besides six women and three technocrats. "Gilgit Baltistan: New Pakistani Package or Governor Rule" 3 September 2009, The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)
  4. "The Gilgit-Baltistan bungle". Thenews.jang.com.pk. 2009-09-10. http://www.pkcolumnist.com/asif-ezdi/the-gilgit-baltistan-bungle. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  5. Gilgit-Baltistan package termed an eyewash, Dawn, 2009-08-30
  6. "Gilgit-Baltistan: GBUM Calls for Self-Rule Under UN Resolutions". UNPO. 2009-09-09. http://www.unpo.org/content/view/10031/236/. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  7. "Pakistan | Gilgit-Baltistan autonomy". Dawn.Com. 2009-09-09. http://www.pakistanprobe.com/2010/05/gilgit-baltistan-autonomy-province-like.html. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  8. Mumtaz Hamid Rao (2009). "Pakistan rejects Indian protest on Gilgit-Baltistan, Bunji dam". Pakistan Times. http://pakistantimes.net/pt/detail.php?newsId=4184. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  9. "Gilani announces development package for Gilgit Baltistan". Associated Press of Pakistan. 29 September 2009. http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=86767. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  10. Manzar Shigri (2009-11-12). "Pakistan's disputed Northern Areas go to polls". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AB1ZE20091112. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  11. "Pakistani president signs Gilgit-Baltistan autonomy order _English_Xinhua". News.xinhuanet.com. 2009-09-07. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-09/07/content_12011387.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  12. "Gilani announces development package for Gilgit Baltistan". GEO.tv. 2009-09-29. http://www.geo.tv/9-29-2009/49958.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  13. Nadeem (2009-09-21). "Gilgit-Baltistan: A question of autonomy". Indian Express. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gilgitbaltistan-a-question-of-autonomy/519428/1. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  14. "DAWN: Gilgit-Baltistan autonomy". Archives.dawn.com. 2009-09-09. http://archives.dawn.com/archives/30198. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  15. Schofield, Victoria (2000). Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan, and the Unending War. I.B. Tauris. pp. 180–181.
  16. Shigri, Manzar. "Pakistan's disputed Northern Areas go to polls". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/11/12/us-pakistan-election-idUSTRE5AB1ZE20091112. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
  17. "Gilgit-Baltistan Council". Gilgit-Baltistan Council. http://www.gbcouncil.com. Retrieved 20 July 2013.