Sunday, August 7, 2022

Pakistan may hand over Gilgit-Baltistan to China to repay its rising debt: Report

Image Source : Facebook / Shahbaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif

Highlight

  • Locals fear that Pakistan may hand over GB to China
  • With this move, Pakistan can get a huge amount on lease which can help in dealing with its economic crisis.
  • It may also trigger local protests in the area.

Pakistan may lease the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region (PoK) Gilgit Baltistan (GB) to China to pay its mounting debt. Mumtaz Nagri, president of the Karakoram National Movement, also expressed fears that isolated and neglected, Gilgit Baltistan could become a future battleground to compete for world powers, Al Arabiya Post reports. The northernmost part of Kashmir is bordering China and the city has expressed apprehension that Pakistan may hand over GB to China. Reports in Pakistani media said that Nagri is waking up people and asked them not to be afraid of ISI and be ready to go to jail.

The GB illegally occupied by Pakistan would be a boon for China’s South Asian expansion. It has used the area that Pakistan had previously ceded and the GB wants as the Karakoram is on the way to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Any such move could fetch Pakistan a hefty amount on lease which could help it tide over its current economic crisis. But it could also nudge the US to refuse or delay a US$3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But, it could also blacklist Pakistan for the foreseeable future from receiving funds from the IMF, World Bank and other global agencies, reports Al Arabiya Post.

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A move on the GB would not be easy, despite full civil and military control from the federal government and extremely limited powers given to local administration. For this, it may trigger local protests as the population already feels small when it comes to development projects, with the way the CPEC bypassed the GB at the behest of Islamabad. Pakistani media reports state that GB has a low population, able-bodied people migrating with their families where they find work and poor living conditions. Worryingly, one report states that nine percent of all suicides in Pakistan occur in GB.

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Despite providing electricity to the rest of the country, Gilgit-Baltistan only has electricity available for two hours, as the region is not part of Pakistan’s national grid. In addition, it suffers from food shortages and has no control over hydropower or other resources. With such socio-economic conditions present in GB, a desperate population can be troubled. The US, on the other hand, smartly under a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, and in no mood to abandon the region, wants to block this potential Chinese expansion into South Asia and, instead, seeks an outpost of its own, Reported by al Arab Post.

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“If Gilgit-Baltistan was in India and Balochistan was independent, the US could have an advantage in Afghanistan,” said the US Congressional candidate for Rhode Island, Bob Lancia, Al Arabiya Post reported. (a) “Indian-controlled Gilgit Baltistan would also be a major blow to America’s number one rival, China, and the China Belt and Roads Initiative, by denying China direct access to ports on the Arabian Sea,” Lancia said on June 8. One report said widely moved to the US.

As reported by Al Arabiya Post, Lancia said that the US’ failure to exit Afghanistan has a lot to do with India not being there as a partner. Lancia is a former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He took to Twitter to focus on India’s strategic position and geopolitical prowess as a player in ensuring South Asia’s interests on the global map. He said that if Balochistan was an independent country, the US could use it to supply US forces in Afghanistan instead of relying on Pakistan, the Al Arabiya Post reported.

(ANI inputs)

Read also | Pakistan: The cash-strapped country has signed an agreement with the IMF to restore the stalled $ 6 billion aid

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