The Complex Calculus Behind Gilgit-Baltistans Provincial Upgrade

Kashmir, India, and China: The creation of Pakistan’s newest province will have far-flung geopolitical ripples

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced his government’s decision to grant Gilgit-Baltistan “provisional status.” In the far north of Pakistan-controlled territory, Gilgit Baltistan is strategically located. It shares boundaries with Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, India’s Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, as well as a Pakistan-controlled swathe of territory in western Kashmir that Islamabad refers to as “Azad Kashmir.” The Pakistani decision will impact the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan significantly.
They will now become Pakistani citizens. Provincial status for Gilgit-Baltistan will also have implications for Kashmiris as well as for India and China. Khan’s announcement evoked a swift
response from India, which claims the region as part of greater Kashmir. “Firmly” rejecting Pakistan’s attempt “to alter the status of these Indian territories,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs called on Pakistan “to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”

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