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The importance of Gilgit-Baltistan, and why Pakistan has given it provisional province status

On November 1, observed every year in Gilgit-Baltistan as “Independence Day”, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that his government would give the region “provisional provincial status”. When that happens, G-B will become the fifth province of Pakistan, although the region is claimed by India as part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu & Kashmir as it existed in 1947 at its accession to India.

Gilgit-Baltistan is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan, providing the country’s only territorial frontier, and thus a land route, with China, where it meets the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor has made the region vital for both countries. In a recent analysis by Andrew Small (Returning to the Shadow: China, Pakistan and the Fate of CPEC), this ambitious project is seen to have been going slow for a combination of reasons. But given the strategic interests of both countries, CPEC will continue.

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