According to the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the central government’s development journey in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has only begun, and its northward journey will be complete after reaching Gilgit-Baltistan.
History of the region –
- Gilgit was part of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, but was ruled directly by the British, who had taken it on lease from Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of the Muslim-majority state.
- When Hari Singh acceded to India on October 26, 1947, the Gilgit Scouts rose in rebellion, led by their British commander Major William Alexander Brown. The Gilgit Scouts also moved to take over Baltistan, which was then part of Ladakh, and captured Skardu, Kargil and Dras. In battles thereafter, Indian forces retook Kargil and Dras in August 1948.
- Before that, on November 1, 1947, a political outfit called the Revolutionary Council of Gilgit-Baltistan had proclaimed the independent state of Gilgit-Baltistan. On November 15, it declared it was acceding to Pakistan.
- Following the India-Pakistan ceasefire of January 1, 1949, Pakistan in April that year entered into an agreement with the “provisional government” of “Azad Jammu & Kashmir” — parts that had been occupied by Pakistani troops and irregulars — to take over its defence and foreign affairs. Under this agreement, the “AJK” government also ceded administration of Gilgit-Baltistan to Pakistan.
Under Pakistani occupation –
- In 1974, Pakistan adopted its first full-fledged civilian Constitution, which lists four provinces —Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakthunkhwa.
- Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan were not incorporated as provinces. One reason ascribed to this is that Pakistan did not want to undermine its international case that the resolution of the Kashmir issue had to be in accordance with UN resolutions that called for a plebiscite.
- In 2009, Pakistan brought in the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009, replacing the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) with the Legislative Assembly, and the Northern Areas were given back the name of Gilgit-Baltistan.
- On November 1, 2020, observed in Gilgit-Baltistan as “Independence Day”, Imran Khan announced that his government would give the region “provisional provincial status”.