Pakistan’s top civil and military leaders have decided to give greater administrative and financial authority to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, the region through which the controversial $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes.
During a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) — the top civil and military body — Sartaj Aziz, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan, on Saturday briefed the Committee on the PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan reform proposals, an official statement said.
It is located in northern Pakistan. It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west, Tajikistan in the north-west and Kashmir in the south-east. Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. It has a regional Assembly and an elected Chief Minister.
Gilgit-Baltistan shares a geographical boundary with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK. The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also passes through this region.
Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 meters (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.
India has termed as “entirely unacceptable” any possible attempt by Pakistan to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region, bordering the disputed Pakistan-administered Kashmir, as the fifth province.