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Gilgit-Baltistan :10 facts you need to know

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Pankaj Jamtani
PhD Research Scholar, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

[Most of the people know Jammu Kashmir as paradise on earth, being unaware of the fact that the beautiful terrain of Gilgit Baltistan which helped the erstwhile State to draw this tag is currently under illegal occupation of Pakistan. A substantial area of Jammu Kashmir has been lost to Pakistan in 1947 i.e. Pakistan Occupied Jammu Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Territories of Ladakh. This illegally occupied territory of Ladakh by Pak comprise of Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza, Nagar, Ghizzer etc. It is important to know here that, Jammu Kashmir acceded to India on 26th October, 1947 through an Instrument of Accession by Maharaja of JK, which included the region of POJK and POTL too.]

Here we will understand few things about Gilgit Baltistan, through following points.

1) Strikingly Beautiful and Scenic Place on Earth

Undoubtedly, Gilgit Baltistan is most beautiful place on this earth. Located in Jammu Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan is one of the major tourist destination for tourists across the world, but unfortunately large no. of tourist cannot visit this place as Pakistan don’t give permit so. Large no. of Lakes, Snow Clad Mountains, Lush Green Meadows of this area has no parallel in World. Yet the vivid beauty remained unexplored by even interested travellers.

2) Huge Reserves of Gold Mines, Uranium, Marble & Gems

Those who have a penchant for reading history, must be knowing that this place was very rich prosperous once upon a time, the Jagir of Hunza, Ghizer and other subsidiary rulers used to pay tribute and other taxes to Maharaja of JK in gold dust. Moreover, Australian Mineral Development Corporation also claimed of gold deposits in this area. Ruby, Topaz, Quartz, Iron, Sulphur and Oil are one of many precious resources found in this region.

3) Most Strategic Place of JK

It is not because of Srinagar only that Jammu Kashmir is important for India, it is the Gilgit Baltistan which is most strategic part of JK. Because it is this area which links Pak with China. This is the area which dominates the access of India to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet and China.

4) Home to Three  of World’s Largest Glacier outside the Polar Region

Fresh Water acts as a lifeline of any country. Bulk of Fresh water source emanates from this area. Though it can be called an irony because the place which gives water to 95% of Pakistan, is itself dependant upon discretion of Pak authorities for supply of water for weeks.

5) Export Dried Nuts to the World

Apricot is the most common fruit in Gilgit Baltistan. Approx. 1 lac tone of Fresh Apricot is produced annually in this region. This outstanding fruit is grown as Cash Crop here. One more reason for growing this fruit is the fuel wood obtained by local families. Figs, cherries and Almond are other popular dry fruits of this region.

6) Losing  Cultural Heritage

Using Swastik, Peacock Feathers are part of cultural identities here. Residents of Gilgit Baltistan  are proud of their rich cultural heritage which they cherish from pre Islamic rule. But Pakistan leave no effort to bury local culture under Islamic identity. Languages like shina, kohistani are getting extinct as these are different from languages of Pak. Thus linguistic identity is getting ruined day by day.

7) No Daily Newspapers, Radio or T.V Station

Gilgit Baltistan, a region greater than 78,000 (around 54 Times of area of  Delhi) don’t have its own radio Stations or T.V Stations. Due to this, people are isolated from rest of the World. This might be intentionally, as Pak don’t want the world to see the impoverishment of locals and lack of basic facilities in this region.

8) People living under Sub-Human Conditions

The standard of living in this region is really dismal. 85% of people live below Poverty line. People here are forced to live in conditions which lacks medical services and educational institutions.

9) Literacy rate below 14%, Its Shocking!

This is the most tragic thing in Gilgit Baltistan as literacy rate of this region is even lower than Pak’s National average of 31%. Due to lack of educational institutions, inhabitants are forced to derive their livelihood from agriculture only.

10) People asking Help from India

Protest by locals against the repressive Pakistan’s regime has become a daily feature in this region. No political rights are given to people here. Pakistan using this area as colony, leading to resentment in locals. They look forward to India for protection of their rights as legally they are living in the region which is an integral part of India.

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Pankaj Jamtani
PhD Research Scholar, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

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