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Gilgit-Baltistan – More Pakistani Mischief

May 10, 2020 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


In an effort to showcase to the world its control over its illegal occupation of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Pakistan has made another mischievous move. In a recent ruling, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed the government to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorising the Prime Minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects. On May 4, India lodged protest with Pakistan for its efforts to bring "material change" in Pak-occupied territories and asked it to vacate them. The Ministry of External Affairs (EA) said Pakistan was told that entire Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India and that Islamabad should immediately vacate the areas under its “illegal occupation”, the MEA statement saying, “India demarched senior Pakistan diplomat and lodged a strong protest to Pakistan against Supreme Court of Pakistan order on the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’. It was clearly conveyed that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession. India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.

The MEA said the government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly” occupied by it and that Pakistan’s recent actions can neither hide the “illegal occupation” of parts of union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh by it nor the “grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom” to the people residing in these areas for the past seven decades. But the Pakistani response was on expected lines. Same day it summoned a senior Indian diplomat to convey its rejection of what it called India’s “baseless and fallacious contention” regarding a verdict by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on the holding of general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that a senior Indian diplomat was summoned to convey Pakistan’s rejection of India’s baseless and fallacious contention against the apex court verdict on Gilgit-Baltistan.It said Pakistan clearly conveyed that the Indian statement over Jammu and Kashmir as an ‘integral part’ of India” had no legal basis whatsoever”, adding, “The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is a ‘disputed’ territory and is recognised as such by the international community”. It is well known that post the partition of India, the British conspired invasion of J&K through Mountbatten – former Viceroy and first Governor General of Independent India, Lockhart – C-in-C of Indian Army, and Douglas Gracey – C-in-C of Pakistan Army, keeping Nehru in dark and Jinnah in picture, to ensure Pakistan Army got a foothold in J&K, making it party to dispute when referred to UN on behest of Mountbatten. Ironically, Pandit Nehru called for ceasefire and approached the UN when the Pakistani invaders were on the run. The British Prime Minister instructed Douglas Gracey to let India and Pakistan fight but “keep a piece of India”, so that both keep fighting in perpetuity. Pakistani invasion of so-called Razakars had mix of Pakistani regulars and all were armed by the Pakistan army. British officers in Pakistan army guided Pakistani infiltrators into Shyok and Nubra Valley of Ladakh but the Nubra Guards of Ladakhis fought and made them retreat. Douglas Gracey organised fall and massacre of Skardu garrison of India, which was holding on for eight months. Fall of Skardu threatened Kargil and Leh, for which Indian Army had to mount attacks, including for securing Zoji La, with more loss of lives. British plan was to keep Gilgit–Baltistan with a country of their making (Pakistan) to fight communist threat of Russia and China on borders of Kashmir.

The irony today is that Pakistan is sitting in the lap of communist China and has become the epicentre of terrorism. Had British not deceived India by “keeping a piece of India”, Pakistan would have no border with China because accession of the State of J&K joined India with Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor in the northwest. Over the years, Pakistan has changed the demography of Gilgit-Baltistan by moving population from the plains into these areas. The original Shia population has been reduced from 70 per cent to 50 per cent already. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been constructed through Gilgit-Baltistan and China is undertaking projects in these areas without reference to India, leave aside seeking concurrence. Pakistan has been waging proxy war on India past three decades behind the belief that conventional war is not possible with both nations being nuclear armed. It is emboldened more because of PLA presence in POK and Pakistan. The Indian Government has been talking of taking back POK but ironically has done little to do so, not even exploiting the numerous fault lines of Pakistan. One reason for this perhaps is because Pakistan continues to stoke the fires in J&K while India remains on the defensive – an adverse asymmetry at the sub-conventional level that India has not bridged.