A dog bone between India and Pakistan- Kashmir seems to be nothing more than that for the neighbouring country. This Himalayan state is constantly under the radar for the power game to be accomplished by Pakistan. Although what Kashmir receives from that country is nothing but distress. Gilgit-Baltistan, a province in Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK), is under grave sectarian violence and being constantly tossed between Pakistan and its incontrovertibly friendly nation- China.
The ghastly attack on Syed Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, a conspicuous Shia leader of Gilgit’s Imamia Mosque in January 2005 led to Sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The assassination attempt led to a violent reaction by Shia Muslims in the region. Over a dozen people were killed and an undetermined number were injured. Eventually, troops were positioned to reinstate law and order and a curfew was imposed in the area.
The situation in this region still remains the same, the curfew is lifted at times, but the sectarian conflict has not declined.
The government has taken no steps to strengthen the judicial system, enforce laws and there is no prohibition to hate speeches, especially during Friday sermons. Besides, there is no guarantee of equal access to human rights.
On the other hand, a lustrous highway is being constructed by thousands of Chinese workers. The new Silk Road is under construction, a $46 billion economic corridor planned by Pakistan and China. Gilgit-Baltistan, a land of peaks and glaciers, of verdant valleys and azure lakes, is highly suspected of achieving any gain out of this project rather is sure of their natural environment adversely getting affected.
One of the eminent local labour activists in Gilgit-Baltistan, Baba Jan, has been held captive under the charges of “terrorism” since 2011 for organizing an anti-government protest.
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan yet don’t have any voting rights in the national elections and hence feel alienated from Islamabad. Their opinion is also not considered for the economic corridor.
However, the people of Baltistan have considerable hope from India- constructing the Kargil and Skardu highway as it would revive the traditional route for the association of trade and commerce, linking several adjoining areas which were the case until 1947 (before Baltistan was taken over by Pakistani administration).
The distance between Skardu the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kargil is barely 170 kilometres (this is the closest major city to Kargil).
This being the situation of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan is not only appalling but also displays Pakistan’s real intentions towards the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. This collaboration of Pakistan and China is an inhuman movement. The people of Baltistan are essentially indigenous people from the city of Ladakh in India though they have fallen into the trap of the dog bone game between the two nations.
Their geographical and religious affinities lie with India and this historical and present condition of Gilgit-Baltistan only symbolises the real intentions of Pakistan’s towards attaining the rest of the Kashmir region for the sole purpose of territorial gain.