After Ladakh, can Gilgit Baltistan be the next flash point between India and China?
According to local media reports, Pakistan is holding elections in Gilgit-Baltistan on the 15th of November.
The government of Pakistan has decided to upgrade the status of Gilgit Baltistan as the country’s fifth province. Experts believe that the move has been made on China’s request and could intensely escalate India-Pakistan tensions or even lead to a ‘two-front’ war against Pakistan and China.
According to local media reports, Pakistan is holding elections in Gilgit-Baltistan on the 15th of November on the Supreme Court’s order. Following this, the province’s status could be established.
However, India has fervently objected to the move, saying that GB is a division of the Indian occupied Kashmir, which is a fundamental part of Pakistan and India. Pakistan’s judiciary has no locus stand on the territory illegally occupied by it.
“Instead, Pakistan should instantly vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the Indian External Affairs Ministry said.
Experts Stance on the Issue
A Current Affairs Analyst, Tom Hussain, said, “The move is expected to heighten military tensions between India and Pakistan.”
Citing analysts, Hussain emphasized that Pakistan’s move to make Gilgit-Baltistan the country’s fifth province would be viewed by India and the United States as hugely influenced by China.
A Senior South Asian Associate at the Wilson Centre, Michael Kugelman, said, ” Modi’s extreme Hindu nationalist government would see Pakistan’s plan for Gilgit-Baltistan as something more than just reciprocation for India’s decision regarding Kashmir. In August last year, India revoked the semi-autonomous constitutional status of the parts the Indian occupied Kashmir.
Kugelman added, “India and the US believe that China is behind Pakistan’s decision to make Gilgit Baltistan a province. Besides, what better way to do so than to try to put a sudden end to India’s claim to GB as it happens to be a key location for CPEC.”
Another expert, A Professor of International Relations at King’s College London, Harsh V. Pant, said, “By trying to give Gilgit-Baltistan a status of a province, Pakistan is trying not only to help the Chinese investors in the CPEC but also giving China greater access in the region.”
Pant added, “It also made the two-front war with China and Pakistan scenario “very realistic.”
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