Prelims Syllabus : International relations Mains Syllabus : GS 2: “India and Neighbourhood relations”.
- India on Friday summoned a Pakistani diplomat and protested against a recent order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan that brought the region of Gilgit-Baltistan within its ambit.
- “The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan was summoned today and a strong protest was lodged on recent order by Supreme Court of Pakistan on the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’, which is an interference in India’s internal affairs,” the Ministry said.
- The response came after the Pakistani court said in an order on Thursday that Gilgit-Baltistan came within its domain. It was delivering its comments after the Government of Pakistan ordered constitutional safeguards for the region which previously was not given these safeguards explicitly.
- Pakistan in recent months had taken a series of steps to ensure full constitutional and legal guarantees to the region which was strategically important for the country especially in view of the passage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through the region.
- “India rejected such continued attempts by Pakistan to bring material change in these occupied territories and to camouflage grave human rights violations, exploitation and sufferings of the people living there. Pakistan was asked to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the statement from the Ministry declared indicating that it did not recognise the observations of the Pakistan Supreme Court.
- The Gilgit Baltistan was a region of princely state of India ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. Before independence; a rebellion occurred and rebels established an independent rule for a short time. After that; keeping view of the Muslim predominance in the region; it has been merged with Pakistan but still the region is neither recognized as a part of Pakistan even by Pakistan supreme court nor it remains a part of India.
- The region has not fully integrated with Pakistan; being governed through special arrangements such as caretaker governments or special secretaries; inhabitants are still not given true representation.
- The demarcated ceasefire line between India and Pakistan that is Siachen is situated here. It has already led to many conflicts between the two countries. Gilgit- Baltistan bears strategic importance from the security and defense point of view. Also, control of Siachen glacier provides significant upper hand to Indian Army in the Kashmir region.
- Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan connecting Afghanistan to India is situated in Gilgit. In view of geopolitical importance of Afghanistan specially regarding recent changes of political scenario and withdrawal of American soldiers; this connecting link is vital. Karakoram Pass linking Pakistan to china is situated in Gilgit.
- China has active presence here through investments in various projects. Shares borders with China: under Chinese proposal of “CPEC”; the region will attract massive Chinese investment to boost regional & Pakistani economy; enhances Sino-Pak ties; region is essential to Chinese strategic vision.
- This region has been used by various successive governments as a ground to itch communal conflict between Shia and Sunni for political purpose. Gilgit-Baltistan is Shia dominated region. It has been at receiving ends from Sunni terror groups; influx of Sunni from rest of Pakistan has led to ethnic conflicts. Highly militarized. India China and Pakistan maintain heavy military presence around the region. Besides the LoC Indian
- troops occupy the Siachen Glacier while Chinese troops are also present on the Karakoram pass. Therefore, any flare-up or escalation around this region could become the focal point of a larger conflict.
- Chinese inroads into the region should be cause of worry for India; as it will undermine India’s regional interests and surround India along Land borders.