The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir has given the northern region of Pakistan, particularly Gilgit, a complex political structure.
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Background: The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir has given the northern region of Pakistan, particularly Gilgit, a complex political structure.
The northern region occupies a strategic position as it has common borders with India, China, Russia and Afghanistan.
The very extensive tract of Gilgit region, Ladakh and Baltistan is a mountainous region having some of the highest peaks in the world. Approach by jeepable roads is tortuous. Recently PIA has introduced some flights.
Gilgit, Gilgit Waza at, Gilgit Agency, Hunza and Nagar are some of the prominent names which have figured in the India Pakistan history for some time.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Mr. Bhutto visited the northern region from 23 Sept to 27 September.
Visnews Pakistan representative visited Gilgit on Saturday, 21 Sept.
Mr. Bhutto visited Gilgit, Donyore--where thousands of Chinese are stationed in connexion with the construction of the Karakoram Road which is being jointly constructed by pakistan and China, and Skardu the administrative centre of Baltistan which is overwhelmingly Muslim.
Not much is known about the hill states of Gilgit, Yasin, Chilas, Hunza and Nagar. Along the Indus between Baltistan and the plains and to the north of the river in the mountains which extended to the borders of Chinese Turkestan, Sinkiang, and the Central Asian Khanates now under the Soviet rule there emerged several small kingdoms, most of them having Muslim populations.
These small states had enetered into relationships with their powerful neighbours in the eighteenth century. Some of them were paying some kind of tribute to these neighbouring countries.
Although the Dogras had tried to rule over these hill states, real authority was wielded by the british in the 1890s where they establish ed an Agent at Gilgit.
The British were vitally interested in the Gilgit region mainly as a buffer against Russian expansion from the north.
In 1935 the British leased Gilgit and its neighbourhood from Kashmir for a 60-year period. Many British maps showed the entire Gilgit Agency outside Kashmir. The leased area is variously described as 1480, 14,5000 square miles and so on by India, and others. The British considered tat they had acquired the rights over the whole of the Gilgit region.
The hill states were totally opposed to Dogra sovereignty. Even the politics of Kashmir's Sheikh Abdullah had any impact on these people. In 1947 the people of Gilgit got rid off of all vestiges of Dogrs rule and declared for Pakistan.
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After the ceasefire the eastern portion emerged as the
Northern Area, that is to say Gilgit and Ladakh. Based in Gilgit Pakistanis launched an offensive against India and Indians fought with tanks at altitudes higher than 10,000 ft. Pakistan could not keep Kargil and Ladakh. Pakistan's forward position was Skardu in Baltistan.
The Chinese were very much interested in these areas as they were very near the Chinese border and provided Indian access to Aksai Chin where China has constructed a road.
Since then Pakistan has been holding the Gilgit region, Baltistan and the harrow strip of the Kashmir provinve Poonch and Jammu long the Pakistan border. India is holding Ladakh, the bulk of Kashmir and Jamuu and about half of Poonch.
India Pakistan watchers know that the Gilgit region passed virtually without conflict into Pakistani hands during the last three months of 1947. During the late 19th century the British had kept the Gilgit region away from the contril of the Hindu Maharajah.
Following in the footstep of the British, Pakistan authorities did not allow the Azad Kashmir authorities to meddle in the affairs of the Northern Region. By the end of 1947 Gilgit, Hunza ad Nagar were outside the orbit of Kashmir.
The Gilgit region had been under direct British administration for more than half a century and the people of the region were not in the least interested in the oppressive rule of the Maharaja. When power was transferred by the British in 1947 the people of Gilgit revolted against the Maharaja of Kashmir's representative Brigadier Ghanasara Sigh. He was arrested by the local people and he had to surrender.
when the freedom fighters of the Northern Region tried to capture the capital of Baltistan, the Indian Government intervened and there were fierce battles in the mountainous regions, Then the United Nations intervened and the Indian Government promised to hold a plebescite in Kashmar which has not materialised even to this day.
Gilgit region is comparatively a backward area. The resident of Gilgit and Baltistan told newsmen covering Prime Minister Bhutto's five-day trip that even as late as 1949 the villagers has not seen a jeep being brought by air. When they villagers heard that an aircraft was lowering a jeep they thought that the aircraft had given birth to a child in the shape of a jeep. The whole village turned up near Gilgit to see the unusual phenomenon. Some of them even carried green grass for the "jeep baby" of the aircraft'.
The Karakoram Highways which is being built jointly by Pakistan and Chian has opened up the Gilgit area to the outside world.
The first two rolls serve as a curtain raiser to the Gilgot series of films centred round Mr. Bhutto's fiveday visit.