Gilgit-Baltistan In ‘PLA Clutches’; Pakistan Could Cede Part Of Kashmir To China In Barter Trade: OPED

OPED By Veteran Journalist R. C. Ganjoo

Pakistan has inconspicuously planned a new deal with China to hand over Gilgit-Baltistan for 50 years. The reason is the country’s troubled economic conditions and tensions with the US.

However, the caretaker, the Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza, has denied it. On the other hand, the Northern Gilgit-Baltistan province and the Chinese province of Gansu signed a memorandum of understanding on December 9, 2023.

The MoU is for transferring high-mountain agriculture technology and machinery to the mountainous region to help local farmers increase their production of various crops.

Gansu province, in Chinese, is the center of the Belt and Road Initiative, and Gilgit-Baltistan is the gateway to CPEC. On the pretext of improving communication between these two regions, the Chinese government will help the government of Gilgit-Baltistan “to develop agriculture, food security, and human and livestock development.”

It is pertinent to mention that GB is not officially a part of Pakistan but forms part of the portion of disputed Kashmir that is administered by Pakistan. The region is Pakistan’s only land link to China and is at the heart of the US$65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure development plan.

CPEC started in 2013, with US$62 billion spent to date. But now, debt-ridden Pakistan is searching for loans to pay older loans. Whoever will give — and on whichever terms — is to be heartily embraced. The ‘unbreakable bonds’ of the Pakistan-China friendship are under stress.

According to IMF data, China holds roughly US$30 billion of Pakistan’s US$126 billion total external foreign debt. This is greatly its IMF debt (US$7.8 billion) and exceeds its borrowings from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank combined.

So why is mighty China awaiting the green signal from the American-led IMF before releasing some relief? Shouldn’t it at least reschedule Pakistan’s debt? Or, better, wipe it off?

The original State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which acceded to India in October 1947, comprised 2,22,236 sq km. But today, India is in physical occupation of only 1,06,566 sq km of the original state of J&K. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) is 72,935 sq km. In 1963, Pakistan illegally leased Shaksgam Valley (Indian Territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) to China in exchange for military and nuclear technology.

In the past few months, over 30 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) have been inked between China and Pakistan across various sectors, including mineral exploration, processing and extraction, climate protection, industrial production, commerce, communication, transport, connectivity, food security, media, space cooperation, urban development, capacity building, and vaccine development.

Pakistan ceded Shasgam Valley to appease China and to get help and support for their cause when they claimed J&K in its entirety at the UN and other international forums. Pakistan knows that no legal documents back its occupation of J&K territory, and it has only a UN card in its favor.

Then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared the J&K issue as disputed. But in reality, there is no such dispute according to the instrument of accession of 1947 when Jammu Kashmir wholly acceded to India, as signed by Maharaja Hari Singh.

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Muslim population claims backfired as J&K and PoK’s people never supported Pakistan’s illegal occupation or claim, and they asked Pakistan to vacate their region immediately. Pakistan avails this as an opportunity to team up with China and ascertain that J&K is disputed to add value to their point. Thus, the Shashgen Valley gifted to China is nothing but appeasement politics to counter India’s legal claim on J&K!

Pakistan is too miserably poor, shady, and corrupt to freely gift two Sindh islands as well as the Gilgit-Baltistan to China. At best, it is bartering/selling Sindh islands precisely to cash on them with the ulterior motive of deliberately bringing the pestering and wily dragon to India’s doorstep.

Pakistan has already made tons of Chinese money by selling PoK property legally belonging to India, especially in the Gilgit-Baltistan zone. But China and Pakistan are playing with fire.

How can Pakistan sell property in dispute to China, and how can China accept land from Pakistan, knowing fully well that India has a legal claim over it? India has vehemently protested this fraudulent and shady deal, loud and clear, before the world.

  • R. C. Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist having more than 30 years experience of covering issues concerning national security, particularly Kashmir. He is a native of Kashmir Valley.