CPEC: Debt-ridden Pakistan may gift Gilgit-Baltistan to China

Taking over the Gilgit-Baltistan region will be a boon for China's expansion into South Asia. The Chinese had earlier been ceded a significant portion of PoK by Pakistan and now want Gilgit-Baltistan, as the Karakoram highway in this rugged, mountainous region is a crucial part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

CPEC: Debt-ridden Pakistan may gift Gilgit-Baltistan to China
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Protests against Pakistan, China in Gilgit-Baltistan (Image Credit: ANI)

Islamabad: Pakistan may lease the strategically important Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to China in order to repay its mounting debt to the Chinese.

Mumtaz Nagri, president of the Karakoram National Movement, also expressed apprehensions that isolated and neglected, Gilgit Baltistan may become a battleground for competing world powers in the future.

Gilgit-Baltistan, the northernmost part of the erstwhile kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, borders the Xinjiang region of China and is illegally occupied by Pakistan.

Taking over the Gilgit-Baltistan region will be a boon for China's expansion into South Asia. The Chinese had earlier been ceded a significant portion of PoK by Pakistan and now want Gilgit-Baltistan, as the Karakoram highway in this rugged, mountainous region is a crucial part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Cedeing the Gilgit-Baltistan region to China will help Pakistan in dealing with its current economic crisis. But it may also prompt the US to refuse or delay a US$3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Pakistan may also be blacklisted for the foreseeable future from receiving funds from the IMF, World Bank and other global agencies.

However, China's takeover of Gilgit-Baltistan will not be easy, despite full civil and military control by the federal government of Pakistan and extremely limited powers given to the local administration.

The Chinese takeover may trigger local protests, as the population already feels neglected when it comes to development projects, the way the development gains of the CPEC bypassed Gilgit-Baltistan at the behest of the Pakistan government.

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