It is not a wonder that Pakistan is a land of wonders. The much hackneyed phrase owes its validity much to region lying North of Pakistan know as Gilgit Baltistan.
Even if one leaves no room for exaggeration , Gilgit Baltistan cab be rightly claimed as the jewel in the crown with our homeland Pakistan being the crown and Gilgit Baltistan its jewel.
Apart from drawing analogies for the sake of comparison, Gilgit Baltistan is a land able to be claimed the paradise of Pakistan if not the whole world.
If we talk about the geography, GB lies in the north of Pakistan bordering to China and India. This region spans over an area of 72971 km sq. with an estimated population of 180000. The region is divided in ten districts viz. Skardu, Ghanche, Shigar, Ghizer, Astore, Diamer, Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar, Chatimal etc.
Gilgit Baltistan constitutes of two divisions Gilgit division and Baltistan division. Both have a succession of districts. The capital city of GB is Gilgit city whereas the biggest is Skardu city. Islam and Urdu binds the different socio;lingioand ethnic entities together.
Gilgit Baltistan has owned a world renowned recognition as a tourism hotspot in the previous years. This region thrives for eons in the silhouette of three great mountain ranges. These are the Himalayas the Karakorum and the Hindu Kush.
Gilgit baltistsa is abode to 5 peaks which are over eight thousand meters. Mount Austin Godwin also known as K2 which is only succeeded by mount Everest in length is located just at a stones throw from skardu city. This region is truly a paradise for the people who have passion for scaling mountains.
The description of Gilgit Baltistan would not be done justice with, sans the emblazonment of glaciers. Gilgit Baltistan homes to some of the very few glaciers in the world outside the North pole.
Gilgit Baltistan also has an exotic array of flora and fauna. These include the Markhore (deer), the ptarmigan and the rarest snow leopard. These fauna add savor and are a cherry on top to the beautiful panorama and scenic swathes and terraces of Gilgit Baltistan.
The regions hosts a massive influx of people, tormented by scorching heat. People find their way to the benignity serenity and tranquility of Gilgit Baltistan. The largeness of nature emulsified in benevolence is testimonial to the philosophy that dictates the healing power invested by Allah in nature.
The abundance of sublime beauty of Nature entices not visitors only from Pakistan but the world at large. Apart from trekkers and mountaineers a large chunk of tourists hailing from all walks of life visit Gilgit Baltistan to hold the magnificence of mighty mountains lush green plains and frozen lakes in their eyes. One is truly lost for words even after a cursory look of nature in its unsullied form in here.
Islam was introduced in the region of Gilgit Baltistan by Sufi Muslim preachers who came from Persia and Central Asia in the 14th century. During this era many local rulers ruled the region. Maqpon Dynasty of Skardu and the Rajas of Hunza were the most famous among them. In the following years, Gilgit Baltistan was merged with Chitral and Ladakh by the Maqpons of Skardu. This was done particularly in the era of Ali Sher Khan Anchan who introduced and entertained a number of sports in Gilgit including Polo.
As far as the modern history of the region is concerned, it involves the Dogra rule. Zorawar Singh was the Dogra Commander. In November 1839, he initiated a campaign against Baltistan. By the year 1840, he was able to conquer Skardu and successfully capture its ruler named Ahmad Shah. However, in the following year many rulers including, Ali Khan of Rondu, Hiadar Khan of Shigar and Daulat Ali Khan stood against the Dogra dynasty and were able to capture many Dogra commanders. Later on these leaders were imprisoned and many of them died in prison.
In 1842, Baltistan was recaptured by a Dogra Commander named Wasir Lakhpat. Till 1860, the whole region of Gilgit Baltistan was under the Sikhs and then the Dogras. In the First Anglo-Sikh War, Sikhs were defeated. Gilgit Baltistan then became a part of Jammu and Kashmir and remained with it till 1 November, 1947. Gilgit Baltistan got independence from the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir on 1st November, 1947.
This administrative unit has a complex history before 1935,the Gilgit Baltistan region was a part of the princely state of Kashmir under a Hindu maharaja as stated above.
In 1935,the Gilgit Baltistan division had been given on lease to the British.
In 1947 as per the partition plan, the British attempted to return the Gilgit agency to the maharaja of Kashmir who wished to join India contrary to the wishes of the local population aided by the Gilgit scouts and Muslim officers of the army forced the governor GandaraSingh to surrender and Gilgit Baltistan agency join the Pakistan federation.
On the other hand India claim that Gilgit-Baltistan was part of Jammu and Kashmir and had been illegally occupied by Pakistan just like Azad Kashmir.
In 1948,the issue went to united nation with calls for plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir territorial dispute .Pakistan wanted the pro Pakistan Gilgit Baltistan region to be a part of plebiscite to secure more votes in its favor.Although the plebiscite did not happen and the Kashmir issue remained unresolved.
Gilgit Baltistan territories have never been constitutionally recognized as part of Pakistan. From 1947 to 1949, the Gilgit Agency was governed as part of Azad Kashmir. In 1947, the area was transferred to Federal Pakistan, controlled via the Kashmir Agreement. Hence forth, the area was governed under the Frontier Crimes Regulation directly by the Federation with no constitution, representative governance, due processes or fundamental rights for the citizens. In 1970, Gilgit and Baltistan were merged into a single unit named Northern Areas, to be governed by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Differential Reforms such as the Northern Areas Council Legal framework Orders 1975 and 1994, the reform package of 2007 failed to transfer actual control from the federation to local legislature. In 1984, the KKH (Karakorum highway) connecting China and Pakistan through Gilgit-Baltistan was built, raising its strategic importance of the region and its connectivity with the rest of the countryIn 1999, in Al-Jehad Trust versus the Federation. The Supreme Court ordered the government to grant citizenship and constitutional rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. In 2009, the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and self-governance order was passed, the region was named Gilgit-Baltistan. And fundamental rights were introduced.
In May 2018, the Gilgit-Baltistan Government Order was passed pursuant to the recommendations of Sartaj Aziz Commission. This was historic Legislation due to its: 1. Establishment of a comprehensive fundamental rights framework for the citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan 2. Abolition of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council and transference of power to the elected Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and the Prime Minister of Pakistan 3. Establishment of Judiciary System with High Courts and the Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court 4. Streamlining of financial procedures and 5. Creation of PSC
In November 2018, a Seven-Members Bench of the Supreme Court upon hearing a constitutional petition regarding the legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan gave the government 15 days to conclusively resolve the matter whether the government form a commission headed by Ali Amin Gandapur to consider Provisional Province status for the GB. Although the PM has approved the Provisional Province status for Gilgit-Baltistan, the matter is under debate in Federal Cabinet.
GB is a multi-ethnic and a multi-lingual area, more than six different languages are spoken in GB. Shina language is primarily spoken in Diamer, Astore, Gilgit, Ghizer and Nagar. There are small amount of Shina speakers in Skardu, Kharmang and Hunza too. Shina is a Dardic Language which is Indo-Arian language. Balti language is spoken in Skardu, Shigar, Kharmang and Guanche in Baltistan Division. Its sister language is Ladakhi. Balti is one of the Tibetan classic language.
Brushaski language is spoken in Hunza, Yasin and Nagar Valley while Wakhi is spoken in upper parts of Hunza valley. Khuwar language is spoken in upper parts of Ghizer valley: Phander, Yasin and Ishkomen.