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Gilgit-Baltistan (; ,
Balti
Balti
: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
as an administrative territory, and constitutes the northern portion of the larger
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale ...

Kashmir
region, which has been the subject of a dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947, and between India and China since 1950s.The application of the term "administered" to the various regions of
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale ...

Kashmir
and a mention of the Kashmir dispute is supported by the tertiary sources (a) through (d), reflecting due weight in the coverage. Although "controlled" and "held" are also applied neutrally to the names of the disputants or to the regions administered by them, as evidenced in sources (e) through (g) below, "held" is also considered politicised usage, as is the term "occupied," (see (h) below):
(a) (subscription required) Quote: "Kashmir, region of the northwestern Indian subcontinent ... has been the subject of dispute between India and Pakistan since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The northern and western portions are administered by Pakistan and comprise three areas: Azad Kashmir, Gilgit, and Baltistan, the last two being part of a territory called the Northern Areas. Administered by India are the southern and southeastern portions, which constitute the state of Jammu and Kashmir but are slated to be split into two union territories.";
(b) (subscription required) Quote: "Aksai Chin, Chinese (Pinyin) Aksayqin, portion of the Kashmir region, at the northernmost extent of the Indian subcontinent in south-central Asia. It constitutes nearly all the territory of the Chinese-administered sector of Kashmir that is claimed by India to be part of the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir state.";
(c) C. E Bosworth, University of Manchester Quote: "KASHMIR, kash'mer, the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, administered partly by India, partly by Pakistan, and partly by China. The region has been the subject of a bitter dispute between India and Pakistan since they became independent in 1947";
(d) Quote: "We move from a disputed international border to a dotted line on the map that represents a military border not recognized in international law. The line of control separates the Indian and Pakistani administered areas of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir.";
(e) (subscription required) Quote: "... China became active in the eastern area of Kashmir in the 1950s and has controlled the northeastern part of Ladakh (the easternmost portion of the region) since 1962.";
(f) Quote: "J&K: Jammu and Kashmir. The former princely state that is the subject of the Kashmir dispute. Besides IJK (Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. The larger and more populous part of the former princely state. It has a population of slightly over 10 million, and comprises three regions: Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh.) and AJK ('Azad" (Free) Jammu and Kashmir. The more populous part of Pakistani-controlled J&K, with a population of approximately 2.5 million. AJK has six districts: Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bagh, Kodi, Rawalakot, and Poonch. Its capital is the town of Muzaffarabad. AJK has its own institutions, but its political life is heavily controlled by Pakistani authorities, especially the military), it includes the sparsely populated "Northern Areas" of Gilgit and Baltistan, remote mountainous regions which are directly administered, unlike AJK, by the Pakistani central authorities, and some high-altitude uninhabitable tracts under Chinese control."
(g) Quote: "Kashmir's identity remains hotly disputed with a UN-supervised "Line of Control" still separating Pakistani-held Azad ("Free") Kashmir from Indian-held Kashmir.";
(h) Quote:"Some politicised terms also are used to describe parts of J&K. These terms include the words 'occupied' and 'held'."
It is the northernmost area administered by
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
. It borders Pakistan-administered
Azad Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan as a nominally self-governing entitySee: ...

Azad Kashmir
to the south, the Pakistani province of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (; ps, خیبر پښتونخوا; ), often abbreviated as KP or KPK and formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province, is one of the Administrative units of Pakistan, four provinces of Pakistan. It is located in the Geo ...

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
to the west, the
Wakhan Corridor The Wakhan Corridor ( ps, واخان دهلېز, translit=wāxān dahléz, Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organizat ...

Wakhan Corridor
of
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
to the north, the
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
region of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, to the east and northeast, and the Indian-administered union territories
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
and
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
to the southeast. Gilgit-Baltistan is part of the greater
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale ...

Kashmir
region, which is the subject of
a long-running conflict
a long-running conflict
between Pakistan and India. The territory shares a border with
Azad Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan as a nominally self-governing entitySee: ...

Azad Kashmir
, together with which it is referred to by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
and other international organisations as "
Pakistan administered Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range ...

Pakistan administered Kashmir
". Gilgit-Baltistan is six times the size of Azad Kashmir. The territory also borders Indian-administered union territories
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
and
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
to the south, and is separated from them by the
Line of Control The Line of Control (LoC) is a military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former Jammu and Kashmir (princely state), princely state of Jammu and Kashmir—a line which does not constitute a legally recogni ...
, the ''de facto'' border between India and Pakistan. The territory of present-day Gilgit-Baltistan became a separate administrative unit in 1970 under the name "Northern Areas". It was formed by the amalgamation of the former
Gilgit Agency The Gilgit Agency ( ur, ) was an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanism ...
, the
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
district and several small former
princely states A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state A vassal state is any state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State ...
, the largest of which were Hunza and Nagar. In 2009, it was granted limited autonomy and renamed Gilgit-Baltistan through the Self-Governance Order signed by President of Pakistan
Asif Ali Zardari Asif Ali Zardari ( ur, ; sd, ; born 26 July 1955) is a Pakistani politician who is the president of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians The Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) is a Pakistani political party and an electoral ...

Asif Ali Zardari
, intended to also empower the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. However, scholars state that the real power rests with the governor and not with the chief minister or elected assembly. Much of the population of Gilgit-Baltistan wants it to become a fifth province of Pakistan and opposes integration with Kashmir. The Pakistani government had rejected Gilgit-Baltistani calls for provincial status on the grounds that granting it would jeopardise its demands for the entire to be resolved according to UN resolutions. However, in November 2020, Pakistani prime minister
Imran Khan Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi ( ur, , ps, عمران احمد خان نیازی; born 5 October 1952) is a Pakistani politician and former cricketer who is the List of Prime Ministers of Pakistan, 22nd and current prime minister of Pakistan. ...

Imran Khan
announced that Gilgit-Baltistan would attain provisional provincial status after the
2020 Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly election The 2020 Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly elections were held on 15 November 2020. Elections will be held in 24 constituencies, each electing one member to the 3rd Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly (GBA), formerly know ...
, a long-standing demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan covers an area of over 72,971 km2 (28,174 sq mi) and is highly mountainous. It had an estimated population of 1.249 million in 2013Geography & Demography of Gilgit Baltistan
Gilgit Baltistan Scouts, retrieved 30 March 2020.

News18, 18 August 2019.
(estimated as 1.8 million in 2015 by ). Its capital city is
Gilgit Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...

Gilgit
(population 216,760 est). Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the "
eight-thousander The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) recognises eight-thousanders as the 14 mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A ...
s" and has more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world's longest
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
s outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan. The main tourism activities are
trekking Backpacking is the outdoor recreation of carrying gear on one's back, while hiking Hiking is a long, vigorous walk Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of terrestrial locomotion among legged animals. Walking is ...

trekking
and
mountaineering Mountaineering, or alpinism, is the set of outdoor activities Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation" is a ...

mountaineering
, and this industry is growing in importance.


Early history

The rock carvings found in various places in Gilgit-Baltistan, especially in the
Passu Passu ( ur, ) is a small village located near Gulmit in the Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan region of Northern Pakistan. Situated along the Karakoram Highway The Karakoram Highway ( ur, , translit=śāhirāh qarāquram; known by its initia ...

Passu
village of , suggest a human presence since 2000 BC. Within the next few centuries of human settlement on the
Tibetan plateau The Tibetan Plateau (, also known as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau () or as the Himalayan Plateau in India, is a vast elevated plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and - ...
, this region became inhabited by Tibetans, who preceded the Balti people of
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
. Today Baltistan bears similarity to
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
physically and culturally (although not in religion).
Dards The Dards are a group of Indo-Aryan peoples found predominantly in northern Pakistan, northwestern India and eastern Afghanistan. They speak Dardic languages, which belong to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan group of the Indo-European langu ...
are found mainly in the western areas. These people are the -speaking peoples of Gilgit,
Chilas Chilas ( ur, ) is a city and is the divisional capital of Diamer District The Diamer District ( ur, ), also spelled Diamir District,) is one of the 14 districts of Pakistan-administered territory of Gilgit-Baltistan. The headquarters of the d ...
, and Diamir, while in Hunza and the upper regions,
Burushaski Burushaski (; ) is a language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. and are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. A ...
and
Khowar Khowar (), is an Indo-Aryan language The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages form a major language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, s ...

Khowar
speakers predominate. The Dards find mention in the works of
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
,
Nearchus Nearchus or Nearchos ( el, Νέαρχος; – 300 BC) was one of the officers, a navarch Navarch ( el, ναύαρχος, ) is an Anglicisation Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing ...
,
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
,
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...

Pliny
,
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
, and the geographical lists of the
Purana Purana (; sa, , '; literally meaning "ancient, old"Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas, , page 915) is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly about legends an ...
s. In the 1st century, the people of these regions were followers of the Bon religion while in the 2nd century, they practiced Buddhism. Between 399 and 414, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim
Faxian Faxian (337 CE – c. 422 CE), also referred to as Fa-Hien, Fa-hsien and Sehi, was a Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the ...
visited Gilgit-Baltistan. In the 6th century Somana Palola (greater Gilgit-Chilas) was ruled by an unknown king. Between 627 and 645, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim
Xuanzang Xuanzang (; fl. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui / Chen Yi (), also known as Hiuen Tsang, was a 7th-century Chinese Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a cla ...

Xuanzang
travelled through this region on his pilgrimage to India. According to Chinese records from the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
, between the 600s and the 700s, the region was governed by a Buddhist dynasty referred to as ''Bolü'' (), also transliterated as ''Palola'', ''Patola'', ''Balur''. They are believed to have been the Palola Sāhi dynasty mentioned in a
Brahmi Brahmi (; ISO 15919 ISO 15919 "Transliteration of Devanagari and related Indic scripts into Latin characters" is one of a List of ISO romanizations, series of international standards for romanization by the International Organization for Sta ...

Brahmi
inscription, and devout adherents of
Vajrayana Buddhism Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: "thunderbolt vehicle" or "diamond vehicle") along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's ...
. At the time, Little Palola () was used to refer to Gilgit, while Great Palola () was used to refer to Baltistan. However, the records do not consistently disambiguate the two. In mid-600s, Gilgit came under Chinese suzerainty after the fall of the
Western Turkic Khaganate The Western Turkic Khaganate () or Onoq Khaganate ( otk, 𐰆𐰣:𐰸:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, On oq budun, Ten arrow people) was a Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at le ...

Western Turkic Khaganate
to Tang military campaigns in the region. In the late 600s CE, the rising
Tibetan Empire The Tibetan Empire (, ; ) was an empire centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The empire further expanded under the 38th ...

Tibetan Empire
wrestled control of the region from the Chinese. However, faced with growing influence of the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under ...
and then the
Abbasid Caliphate The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the tit ...

Abbasid Caliphate
to the west, the Tibetans were forced to ally themselves with the Islamic caliphates. The region was then contested by Chinese and Tibetan forces, and their respective vassal states, until the mid-700s. Rulers of Gilgit formed an alliance with the Tang Chinese, and held back the Arabs with their help. Between 644 and 655, ''Navasurendrāditya-nandin'' became king of the Palola Sāhi dynasty in Gilgit. Numerous Sanskrit inscriptions, including the Danyor Rock Inscriptions, were discovered to be from his reign. In the late 600s and early 700s, Jayamaṅgalavikramāditya-nandin was king of Gilgit. According to Chinese court records, in 717 and 719 respectively, delegations of a ruler of Great Palola (Baltistan) named Su-fu-she-li-ji-li-ni () reached the Chinese imperial court. By at least 719/720,
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
(Mard) became part of the
Tibetan Empire The Tibetan Empire (, ; ) was an empire centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The empire further expanded under the 38th ...

Tibetan Empire
. By that time,
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
was practised in
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
, and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
was the written language. In 720, the delegation of ''Surendrāditya'' () reached the Chinese imperial court. He was referred to in Chinese records as the king of Great Palola; however, it is unknown if Baltistan was under Gilgit rule at the time. The Chinese emperor also granted the ruler of Cashmere, Chandrāpīḍa ("Tchen-fo-lo-pi-li"), the title of "King of Cashmere". By 721/722, Baltistan had come under the influence of the Tibetan Empire. In 721–722, the Tibetan army attempted but failed to capture Gilgit or Bruzha (
Yasin valley Yasin ( ur, ''Yāsīn''), also known as Babaye-i-Yasen () or Worshigum ( khw, ''Worśigūm''), is a high mountain valley in the Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush ( Dari, Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is ...
). By this time, according to Chinese records, the king of Little Palola was Mo-ching-mang (). He had visited the Tang court requesting military assistance against the Tibetans. Between 723 and 728, the Korean Buddhist pilgrim
Hyecho Hyecho (; 704–787), Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South ...

Hyecho
passed through this area. In 737/738, Tibetan troops under the leadership of Minister Bel Kyesang Dongtsab of Emperor
Me Agtsom Me most often refers to: * Me (pronoun), the first-person singular pronoun, referring to the speaker Me, M.E. or ME may also refer to: Computing * .me, the top-level Internet domain for Montenegro * Me (computer science), a keyword in some prog ...
took control of Little Palola. By 747, the Chinese army under the leadership of the ethnic-Korean commander
Gao Xianzhi Gao Xianzhi, or Go Seonji, (died January 24, 756) was a Tang dynasty general of Goguryeo descent. He was known as a great commander during his lifetime. He is most well known for taking part in multiple military expeditions to conquer the Western Re ...
had recaptured Little Palola. Great Palola was subsequently captured by the Chinese army in 753 under military Governor
Feng Changqing Feng Changqing ( (died January 24, 756) was a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Feng was described as ugly in his appearance, and when he first met Gao Xianzhi and asked to be a guard for Gao, Gao initially rejected him, but eventually agreed ...
. However, by 755, due to the
An Lushan rebellion The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregn ...

An Lushan rebellion
, the Tang Chinese forces withdrew and were no longer able to exert influence in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
or in the regions around Gilgit-Baltistan. The control of the region was left to the Tibetan Empire. They referred to the region as Bruzha, a toponym that is consistent with the ethnonym " Burusho" used today. Tibetan control of the region lasted until late-800s CE. Turkic tribes practising
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
arrived in Gilgit during the 7th century, and founded the
Trakhan dynasty The Trakhan dynasty, initially known as the Kayānis dynasty until 1241 CE, was a dynasty of rulers in Gilgit and Hunza, established in the 8th-9th century CE after the overthrow of the Patola Shahis. The Trakhan dynasty is considered to be of Turk ...
in Gilgit.


Medieval history

In the 14th century, Sufi Muslim preachers from Persia and Central Asia introduced Islam in Baltistan. Famous amongst them was
Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani ( fa, میر سید علی همدانی; CE) was an Iranian peoples, Iranian scholar, poet and a Sufism, Sufi Muslim saint of the Kubrawiya order. He was born in Hamadan, Iran and preached Islam in Central Asia, Centra ...
, who came through
Kashmir Kashmir, ks, کٔشیٖر, kaśīr () is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the Kashmir Valley The Kashmir Valley, also known as the ''Vale ...

Kashmir
while in the Gilgit region Islam entered in the same century through Turkic
Tarkhan Tarkhan ( otk, 𐱃𐰺𐰴𐰣, Tarqan, mn, ''Darqan'' or ''Darkhan''; fa, ترخان; ; ar , طرخان; alternative spellings ''Tarkan'', ''Tarkhaan'', ''Tarqan'', ''Tarchan'', ''Turxan'', ''Tarcan'', ''Turgan'') is an ancient Central Asia ...

Tarkhan
rulers. Gilgit-Baltistan was ruled by many local rulers, amongst whom the Maqpon dynasty of
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
and the Rajas of Hunza were famous. The Maqpons of Skardu unified Gilgit-Baltistan with
Chitral Chitral ( ; khw, , lit=field, translit=ćhitrār) is a town situated on the Kunar River, Chitral River in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It serves as the capital of the Chitral District and likewise served as the capital of the Chitra ...

Chitral
and
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
, especially in the era of
Ali Sher Khan Anchan Ali Sher Khan Anchan (1590-1625) (Balti language, Balti: علی شیر خان انچن) (also called Ali Rai, Ray Alī, Alī Rai, Raja Sher Ali Mir, Mir Ali, Sher Ali and Ali Zad) was a famous Balti people, Balti king. He was a Maqpon dynasty kin ...
who had friendly relations with the
Mughal Mughal or Moghul may refer to: * The Mughal Empire The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. ...
court. Anchan's reign brought prosperity and entertained art, sport, and variety in architecture. He introduced polo to the Gilgit region, and sent a group of musicians from Chitral to
Delhi Delhi (; ''Dillī''; ''Dillī''; ''Dêhlī''), officially the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, is a city and a of containing , the capital of India. * * * Straddling the river, but primarily its western or right bank, Delhi ...

Delhi
to learn
Indian music Owing to India's vastness and diversity, Indian Music encompass numerous genres, multiple varieties and forms which include classical music Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including bot ...
;
Mughal architecture Mughal architecture is the type of Indo-Islamic architecture Indo-Islamic architecture is the architecture of the Indian subcontinent produced by and for Islamic patrons and purposes. Despite an initial Arab presence in Sindh Si ...

Mughal architecture
influenced the architecture of the region as well under his reign. Later Anchan in his successors Abdal Khan had great influence though in the popular literature of Baltistan, where he is still alive as a dark figure by the nickname "Mizos", "man-eater". The last Maqpon Raja, Ahmed Shah, ruled all of Baltistan between 1811 and 1840. The areas of Gilgit, Chitral and Hunza had already become independent of the Maqpons. Before the demise of Shribadat, a group of
Shina people The Shina, also known as the Shin or locally Dards are a Dardic tribe residing in southern Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Ar ...
migrated from Gilgit Dardistan and settled in the
Dras Dras (also spelt Drass, ISO 15919, ISO transliteration: ') is a hill station in the Kargil district of the union territory of Ladakh in India. It is on the National Highway 1 (India), NH 1 (former name National Highway 1D (India, old numbering) ...
and Kharmang areas. The descendants of those
Dardic people The Dards are a group of Indo-Aryan peoples Indo-Aryan peoples refers to both the pastoralist Indo- Aryan people migrating from Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and ...
can be still found today, and are believed to have maintained their Dardic culture and
Shina language Shina (ݜݨیاٗ, ) is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan family spoken by the Shina people, a plurality of the people in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (Arandu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Arandu, Damel, Biol, A ...

Shina language
up to the present time.


Modern history


Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir

In November 1839, Dogra commander Zorawar Singh, whose allegiance was to
Gulab Singh Maharaja Gulab Singh (1792–1857) was the founder of Dogra dynasty The Dogra dynasty Dogra Rajput The term Dogra Rajput refers to a number of Dogri speaking Rajput clans found in the Jammu region and parts of Himachal Pradesh. Dogra dynas ...

Gulab Singh
, started his campaign against Baltistan. By 1840 he conquered Skardu and captured its ruler, Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shah was then forced to accompany Zorawar Singh on his raid into Western Tibet. Meanwhile, Baghwan Singh was appointed as administrator ( thanadar) in Skardu. But in the following year, Ali Khan of Rondu, Haidar Khan of
Shigar Shigar () is the headquarter of its namesake district and tehsil in the Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, s ...

Shigar
and Daulat Ali Khan from
Khaplu Khaplu (Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organi ...

Khaplu
led a successful uprising against the Dogras in Baltistan and captured the Dogra commander Baghwan Singh in Skardu. In 1842, Dogra Commander Wasir Lakhpat, with the active support of Ali Sher Khan (III) from Kartaksho, conquered Baltistan for the second time. There was a violent capture of the fortress of . Haidar Khan from Shigar, one of the leaders of the uprising against the Dogras, was imprisoned and died in captivity. Gosaun was appointed as administrator (Thanadar) of Baltistan and till 1860, the entire region of Gilgit-Baltistan was under the
Sikhs Sikhs ( or ; pa, ਸਿੱਖ, ', ) are people who adhere to Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in the late 15th century '' by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, 1882: Muhammad XII surrenders to Ferdinand and Isabella The 15th ...
and then the
Dogras The Dogras or Dogra people, are an Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theor ...
. After the defeat of the Sikhs in the
First Anglo-Sikh War The First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire The Sikh Empire ( fa, , Sarkār-ē-Khālsā, lit=Government of the Khalsa; pa, , ਸਿੱਖ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ , Sikkh Khālsā Rāj, lit=Sikh Khalsa rule), al ...
, the region became a part of the
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
princely state, which since 1846 had remained under the rule of the Dogras. The population in Gilgit perceived itself as ethnically different from Kashmiris and disliked being ruled by the Kashmir state. The region remained with the princely state, with temporary leases of some areas assigned to the British, until 1 November 1947.


First Kashmir War

After Pakistan's independence, Jammu and Kashmir initially remained an independent state. Later on 22 October 1947, tribal militias backed by Pakistan crossed the border into Jammu and Kashmir.
Hari Singh Maharaja Sir Hari Singh (23 September 1895 – 26 April 1961) was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (princely state), Jammu and Kashmir. Hari Singh was the son of Amar Singh and Bhotiali Chib. In 1923, foll ...

Hari Singh
made a plea to India for assistance and signed the
Instrument of Accession The Instrument of Accession was a legal document first introduced by the Government of India Act 1935 The Government of India Act, 1935 was an Act of Parliament, Act adapted from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It originally receive ...
, making his state a part of India. India air-lifted troops to defend the Kashmir Valley and the invaders were pushed back behind
Uri A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, concep ...
. Gilgit's population did not favour the State's accession to India. The Muslims of the ''frontier ilaqas'' (Gilgit and the adjoining hill states) had wanted to join Pakistan. Sensing their discontent, Major William Brown, the Maharaja's commander of the
Gilgit Scouts The Gilgit Scouts constituted a paramilitary force of the Gilgit Agency in northern Jammu and Kashmir (princely state), Jammu and Kashmir. They were raised by the British Raj in 1913, on behalf of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, to police ...
, mutinied on 1 November 1947, overthrowing the governor Ghansara Singh. The bloodless ''coup d'état'' was planned by Brown to the last detail under the code name "Datta Khel", which was also joined by a rebellious section of the
Jammu and Kashmir State Forces Jammu is the winter capital Some countries have multiple capitals. In some cases, one city is the capital for some purposes, and one or more others are capital for other purposes, without any being considered an official capital in preference ...
under Mirza Hassan Khan. Brown ensured that the treasury was secured and minorities were protected. A provisional government (''Aburi Hakoomat'') was established by the Gilgit locals with Raja Shah Rais Khan as the president and Mirza Hassan Khan as the commander-in-chief. However, Major Brown had already telegraphed
Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri ( ur, عبدالقیوم خان کشمیری) (16 July 1901 – 23 October 1981) was a major figure in British India The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency ...
asking Pakistan to take over. Pakistan's political agent, Khan Mohammad Alam Khan, arrived on 16 November and took over the administration of Gilgit. Brown outmaneuvered the pro-Independence group and secured the approval of the mirs and rajas for accession to Pakistan. According to Brown, The provisional government lasted 16 days. According to scholar Yaqub Khan Bangash, it lacked sway over the population. The Gilgit rebellion did not have civilian involvement and was solely the work of military leaders, not all of whom had been in favour of joining Pakistan, at least in the short term. Historian Ahmed Hasan Dani says that although there had been a lack of public participation in the rebellion, pro-Pakistan sentiments were intense in the civilian population and their anti-Kashmiri sentiments were also clear. According to various scholars, the people of Gilgit as well as those of Chilas, Koh Ghizr,
Ishkoman The Ishkoman ( ur, ) valley lies in the north of Ghizer DistrictGhizer District may refer to: * Ghizer District (1974–2019) * Ghizer District (2019–) {{Geodis District name disambiguation pages ... in Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit-Bal ...
, Yasin,
Punial The valley of Punial (Urdu: ڀو نيا ل) is situated in Ghizer DistrictGhizer District may refer to: * Ghizer District (1974–2019) * Ghizer District (2019–) {{Geodis District name disambiguation pages ... in the Gilgit-Baltistan, Pa ...
, Hunza and Nagar joined Pakistan by choice. After taking control of Gilgit, the Gilgit Scouts along with Azad irregulars moved towards
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
and
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
and captured
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
by May 1948. They successfully blocked Indian reinforcements sent to relieve Skardu, and proceeded towards
Kargil Kargil is a city and a joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh in India. It is also the headquarters of the Kargil district. It is the second-largest city in Ladakh after Leh. Kargil is located to the east of Srinagar in Jammu and Ka ...

Kargil
and
Leh Leh () is the joint capital and largest town of the union territory of Ladakh in India. Leh, located in the Leh district, was also the historical capital of the Kingdom of Ladakh, the seat of which was in the Leh Palace, the former residence ...

Leh
. Indian forces mounted an offensive in the autumn of 1948 to push them back from Ladakh, but Baltistan came into the rebels' territory. On 1 January 1948, India took the issue of Jammu and Kashmir to the
United Nations Security Council The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed ...

United Nations Security Council
. In April 1948, the Council passed a resolution calling for Pakistan to withdraw from all of Jammu and Kashmir and for India to reduce its forces to the minimum level, following which a plebiscite would be held to ascertain the people's wishes. However, no withdrawal was ever carried out. India insisted that Pakistan had to withdraw first and Pakistan contended there was no guarantee that India would withdraw afterwards. Gilgit-Baltistan, along with the western districts that came to be called
Azad Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan as a nominally self-governing entitySee: ...
, have remained under the control of Pakistan ever since.


Inside Pakistan

While the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan expressed a desire to join Pakistan after gaining independence from Maharaja
Hari Singh Maharaja Sir Hari Singh (23 September 1895 – 26 April 1961) was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (princely state), Jammu and Kashmir. Hari Singh was the son of Amar Singh and Bhotiali Chib. In 1923, foll ...

Hari Singh
, Pakistan declined to merge the region into itself because of the territory's link to
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
. For a short period after joining Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan was governed by Azad Kashmir if only "theoretically, but not practically" through its claim of being an alternative government for Jammu and Kashmir. In 1949, the Government of Azad Kashmir handed over the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan to the federal government under the
Karachi Agreement The Karachi Agreement of 1949 was signed by the military representatives of India and Pakistan, supervised by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, establishing a cease-fire line in Kashmir following the Indo-Pakistani War of ...
. According to Indian journalist Paul Sahni, this is seen as an effort by Pakistan to legitimise its rule over Gilgit-Baltistan. According to Pakistani analyst Ershad Mahmud, there were two reasons why administration was transferred from Azad Kashmir to Pakistan: * the region was inaccessible from Azad Kashmir, and * because both the governments of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan knew that the people of the region were in favour of joining Pakistan in a potential referendum over Kashmir's final status. According to the
International Crisis Group The International Crisis Group (ICG; also known as the Crisis Group) is a transnational non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity ...
, the Karachi Agreement is highly unpopular in Gilgit-Baltistan because Gilgit-Baltistan was not a party to it even while it was its own fate was being decided. From then until the 1990s, Gilgit-Baltistan was governed through the colonial-era
Frontier Crimes Regulations The Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) were a special set of laws of British India The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in I ...
, which were originally creeated for the northwest tribal regions. They treated tribal people as "barbaric and uncivilised," levying collective fines and punishments. People had no right to legal representation or appeal. Members of tribes had to obtain prior permission from the police to travel anywhere, and had to keep the police informed about their movements. There was no democratic set-up during this period. All political and judicial powers remained in the hands of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA). The people of Gilgit-Baltistan were deprived of rights enjoyed by citizens of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. A primary reason for this state of affairs was the remoteness of Gilgit-Baltistan. Another factor was that the whole of Pakistan itself was deficient in democratic norms and principles, therefore the federal government did not prioritise democratic development in the region. There was also a lack of public pressure as an active civil society was absent in the region, with young educated residents usually opting to live in Pakistan's urban centers instead of staying in the region.


Northern Areas

In 1970 the two parts of the territory, viz., the
Gilgit Agency The Gilgit Agency ( ur, ) was an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanism ...
and
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
, were merged into a single administrative unit, and given the name "Northern Areas". The Shaksgam tract was ceded by Pakistan to China following the signing of the Sino-Pakistani Frontier Agreement in 1963. In 1969, a Northern Areas Advisory Council (NAAC) was created, later renamed to Northern Areas Council (NAC) in 1974 and Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) in 1994. But it was devoid of legislative powers. All law-making was concentrated in the KANA Ministry of Pakistan. In 1994, a Legal Framework Order (LFO) was created by the KANA Ministry to serve as the ''de facto'' constitution for the region. In 1974, the former State Subject law was abolished in Gilgit Baltistan, and Pakistanis from other areas could buy land and settle. In 1984 the territory's importance shot up within Pakistan with the opening of the
Karakoram Highway The Karakoram Highway ( ur, , translit=śāhirāh qarāquram; known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 ( ur, ) or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a National Highways of Pakistan, national highway whi ...

Karakoram Highway
and the region's population became more connected to mainland Pakistan. The improved connectivity facilitated the local population to avail itself of educational opportunities in the rest of Pakistan. Italso allowed the political parties of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir to set up local branches, raise political awareness in the region. According to Ershad Mahmud, these Pakistani political parties have played a 'laudable role' in organising a movement for democratic rights among the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan. In the 1988 Gilgit Massacre, groups of Islamist Sunnis, supported by
Osama bin Laden Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, ') (March 10, 1957 – May 2, 2011), also transliterated as Usama bin Ladin, was a Saudi Arabian terrorist and founder of the Pan-Islamic militant organization . The group is designated as a List of des ...

Osama bin Laden
,
Pervez Musharraf Pervez Musharraf ( ur, , Parvez Muśarraf; born 11 August 1943) is a Pakistani politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, ...

Pervez Musharraf
, General Zia-ul Haq and
Mirza Aslam Beg General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral z ...
slaughtered hundreds of local Shias.: "Undaunted, Musharraf had in 1988 been called on by General Beg to put down a Shia riot in Gilgit, in the north of Pakistan. Rather than get the Pakistan army bloodied, he inducted a tribal band of Pashtun and Sunni irregulars, many from the SSP which had recently put out a contract on Bhutto, led by the mercenary Osama bin Laden (who had been hired by Hamid Gul to do the same four years earlier)."


Present structure

In the late 1990s, the President of Al-Jihad Trust filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to determine the legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan. In its judgement of 28 May 1999, the Court directed the Government of Pakistan to ensure the provision of equal rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, and gave it six months to do so. Following the Supreme Court decision, the government took several steps to devolve power to the local level. However, in several policy circles, the point was raised that the Pakistani government was helpless to comply with the court verdict because of the strong political and sectarian divisions in Gilgit-Baltistan and also because of the territory's historical connection with the still disputed Kashmir region, and that this prevented the determination of Gilgit-Baltistan's real status. A position of 'Deputy Chief Executive' was created to act as the local administrator, but the real powers still rested with the 'Chief Executive', who was the Federal Minister of KANA. "The secretaries were more powerful than the concerned advisors," in the words of one commentator. In spite of various reforms packages over the years, the situation is essentially unchanged. Meanwhile, public rage in Gilgit-Baltistan " rewalarmingly." Prominent "antagonist groups" have mushroomed protesting the absence of civic rights and democracy. The Pakistani government has debated granting provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. According to Antia Mato Bouzas, the PPP-led Pakistani government has attempted a compromise through its 2009 reforms between its traditional stand on the Kashmir dispute and the demands of locals, most of whom may have pro-Pakistan sentiments. While the 2009 reforms have added to the self-identification of the region, they have not resolved the constitutional status of the region within Pakistan. According to news reports, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan want to merge into Pakistan as a separate fifth province. However, leaders of
Azad Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan as a nominally self-governing entitySee: ...

Azad Kashmir
are opposed to any step towards integrating Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan oppose any integration with Azad Kashmir. They desire Pakistani citizenship and a constitutional status for their region. Gilgit-Baltistan has been a member state of the
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is an international organization established to facilitate the voices of unrepresented and marginalised nations and peoples worldwide. It was formed on 11 February 1991 in The Hague Th ...
since 2008. In September 2020, it was reported that Pakistan decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan's status to that of a full-fledged province.


Government

The territory of present-day Gilgit-Baltistan became a separate administrative unit in 1970 under the name "Northern Areas". It was formed by the amalgamation of the former
Gilgit Agency The Gilgit Agency ( ur, ) was an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanism ...
, the
Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, script=Tibt), is a mountainous region in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmi ...

Baltistan
District of the Ladakh Wazarat and the hill states of Hunza and Nagar. It presently consists of fourteen districts, has a population approaching one million and an area of approximately , and shares borders with Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and India. In 1993, an attempt was made by the High Court of
Azad Jammu and Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in ...
to annex Gilgit-Baltistan but was quashed by the
Supreme Court of Pakistan The Supreme Court of Pakistan ( ur, ; ''Adālat-e-Uzma Pākistān'') is the apex court The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of ...

Supreme Court of Pakistan
after protests by the locals of Gilgit-Baltistan, who feared domination by the Kashmiris.
Government of Pakistan The Government of Pakistan ( ur, , translit=hakúmat-e pákistán) abbreviated as GoP, is a federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group ...
abolished State Subject Rule in Gilgit-Baltistan in 1974, which resulted in demographic changes in the territory. While administratively controlled by Pakistan since the
First Kashmir War First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
, Gilgit-Baltistan has never been formally integrated into the Pakistani state and does not participate in Pakistan's constitutional political affairs. On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the then
President of Pakistan The President of Pakistan ( ur, , translit=s̤adr-i Pākiṣṭān), officially the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is the ceremonial head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (p ...
Asif Ali Zardari Asif Ali Zardari ( ur, ; sd, ; born 26 July 1955) is a Pakistani politician who is the president of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians The Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) is a Pakistani political party and an electoral ...

Asif Ali Zardari
. The order granted self-rule to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, by creating, among other things, an elected
Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly (GBA), formerly known as Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA), is a 33-seat unicameral house of elected representatives of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. The third 2020 Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly election, Gi ...
and
Gilgit-Baltistan Council The Gilgit-Baltistan Council has been established as per Article 33 of Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment & Self Governance) Order, 2009. Its Chairman is the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan is the Vice-Chairman over the si ...
. Gilgit-Baltistan thus gained a ''de facto'' province-like status without constitutionally becoming part of Pakistan. Currently, Gilgit-Baltistan is neither a province nor a state. It has a semi-provincial status. Officially, the Pakistan government had rejected Gilgit-Baltistani calls for integration with Pakistan on the grounds that it would jeopardise its demands for the whole to be resolved according to UN resolutions. Some Kashmiri nationalist groups, such as the
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is a political organization active in both the India, Indian-administered and Pakistan, Pakistani-administered territories of Kashmir. It was founded by Amanullah Khan (JKLF), Amanullah Khan, with Maqboo ...
, claim Gilgit-Baltistan as part of a future independent state to match what existed in 1947. India, on the other hand, maintains that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the former princely state of
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
that is "an integral part of the country
ndia Ndia or NDIA may refer to: * Ndia Constituency, Kirinyaga District, Central Province, Kenya *Alternative name for the Southern Kirinyaga dialect of the Kikuyu language Kikuyu or Gikuyu ( ki, Gĩkũyũ ) is a Bantu language spoken by the (''Ag ...
" The Gilgit-Baltistan Police (GBP) is responsible for law enforcement in Gilgit-Baltistan. The mission of the force is the prevention and detection of crime, maintenance of law and order and enforcement of the Constitution of Pakistan.


Regions

Gilgit-Baltistan is administratively divided into three divisions: Baltistan, Diamer and Gilgit, which, in turn, are divided into fourteen districts. The principal administrative centers are the towns of
Gilgit Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...

Gilgit
and
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
. * Combined population of Skardu, Shigar, Kharmang and Roundu districts. Shigar and Kharmang Districts were carved out of Skardu District after 1998. The estimated population of Gilgit-Baltistan was about 1.8 million in 2015 and the overall population growth rate between 1998 and 2011 was 63.1% making it 4.85% annually.


Security

Security in Gilgit-Baltistan is provided by the Gilgit-Baltistan Police, the
Gilgit Baltistan Scouts Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...
(a paramilitary force), and the
Northern Light Infantry The Northern Light Infantry (NLI) is a light infantry regiment in the Pakistan Army, based and currently headquartered in Gilgit, Pakistan. Along with other forces of the Pakistan Armed Forces, Pakistani military, the NLI has the primary responsi ...
(part of the Pakistani Army).


Geography and climate

Gilgit-Baltistan borders Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province to the west, a small portion of the
Wakhan Corridor The Wakhan Corridor ( ps, واخان دهلېز, translit=wāxān dahléz, Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organizat ...

Wakhan Corridor
of Afghanistan to the north, China's
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC romanization, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Postal romanization, formerly roman ...
to the northeast, the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast, and the Pakistani-administered state of
Azad Jammu and Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in ...
to the south. Gilgit-Baltistan is home to all five of Pakistan's "
eight-thousander The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) recognises eight-thousanders as the 14 mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A ...
s" and to more than fifty peaks above .
Gilgit Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...

Gilgit
and
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
are the two main hubs for expeditions to those mountains. The region is home to some of the world's highest mountain ranges. The main ranges are the
Karakoram The Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and ...

Karakoram
and the western
Himalayas The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ar ...

Himalayas
. The
Pamir Mountains The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignme ...

Pamir Mountains
are to the north, and the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are (Mount Godwin-Austen) and
Nanga Parbat Nanga Parbat (; ), known locally as Diamer (), is the ninth-highest mountain on Earth, its summit at above sea level. Lying immediately southeast of the northernmost bend of the Indus river The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A tr ...

Nanga Parbat
, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world. Three of the world's longest
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
s outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan: the
Biafo Glacier The Biafo Glacier ( ur, ) is a -long glacier A glacier ( or ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its Ablation#Glaciology, ablation over ma ...
, the
Baltoro Glacier The Baltoro Glacier (), at in length, is List of glaciers#List of longest glaciers in world in non-polar regions, one of the longest glaciers outside the polar regions.The Fedchenko Glacier in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan is 77 km long ...

Baltoro Glacier
, and the Batura Glacier. There are, in addition, several high-altitude lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan: * Sheosar Lake in the Deosai Plains,
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
* Naltar lakes in the Naltar Valley,
Gilgit Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...

Gilgit
* Satpara Lake, Satpara Tso Lake in
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
, Baltistan * Kachura Lake, Katzura Tso Lake in
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
, Baltistan * Zharba Lake, Zharba Tso Lake in
Shigar Shigar () is the headquarter of its namesake district and tehsil in the Baltistan Baltistan ( ur, , bft, སྦལ་ཏི་སྟཱན, script=Tibt), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet ( bft, སྦལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།, s ...

Shigar
, Baltistan * Phoroq Tso Lake in Skardu, Baltistan * Lake Kharfak in Ghangche District, Gangche, Baltistan * Byarsa Tso Lake in Gultari Valley, Gultari, Astore * Borith Lake in Gojal, upper Hunza, Gilgit * Rama Lake (Pakistan), Rama Lake near Astore (city), Astore * Rush Lake (Pakistan), Rush Lake near Nagar, Pakistan, Nagar, Gilgit * Karambar Lake, Kromber Lake at Kromber Pass, Ishkoman Valley, Ghizer District (1974–2019), Ghizer District * Barodaroksh Lake in Bar Valley, Nagar * Ghorashi Lake in Ghandus Valley, Kharmang District, Kharmang The Deosai Plains are located above the tree line and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world after Tibet, at . The plateau lies east of Astore, south of
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
and west of
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu ...

Ladakh
. The area was declared as a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover an area of almost . For over half the year (between September and May), Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from rest of Astore and Baltistan in winters. The village of Deosai lies close to Chilum chokki and is connected with the Kargil district of Ladakh through an all-weather road. File:Lake Sudpara.JPG, Satpara Lake,
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
, in 2002 File:Beauty - Uppaer Kachura Lake Sakardu.jpg, Upper Kachura Lake File:Shangri-La, Skardu.jpg, Lower Kachura Lake, Shangrila Lake, Skardu File:Mantoka Waterfall Skardu.jpg, Manthokha Waterfall


Rock art and petroglyphs

There are more than 50,000 pieces of rock art (petroglyphs) and inscriptions all along the
Karakoram Highway The Karakoram Highway ( ur, , translit=śāhirāh qarāquram; known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 ( ur, ) or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a National Highways of Pakistan, national highway whi ...

Karakoram Highway
in Gilgit-Baltistan, concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The earliest date back to between 5000 and 1000 Common Era, BCE, showing single animals, triangular men and hunting scenes in which the animals are larger than the hunters. These Stone carving, carvings were pecked into the rock with stone tools and are covered with a thick patina that proves their age. The ethnologist has pieced together the history of the area from inscriptions and recorded his findings in ''Rock Carvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan'' and the later-released ''Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads — Rock Carvings Along the Karakoram Highway''. Many of these carvings and inscriptions will be inundated and/or destroyed when the planned Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Basha-Diamir dam is built and the
Karakoram Highway The Karakoram Highway ( ur, , translit=śāhirāh qarāquram; known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 ( ur, ) or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a National Highways of Pakistan, national highway whi ...

Karakoram Highway
is widened.


Climate

The climate of Gilgit-Baltistan varies from region to region, since the surrounding mountain ranges create sharp variations in weather. The eastern part has the moist zone of the western Himalayas, but going toward
Karakoram The Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and ...

Karakoram
and
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
, the climate gets considerably drier. There are towns like
Gilgit Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...

Gilgit
and
Chilas Chilas ( ur, ) is a city and is the divisional capital of Diamer District The Diamer District ( ur, ), also spelled Diamir District,) is one of the 14 districts of Pakistan-administered territory of Gilgit-Baltistan. The headquarters of the d ...
that are very hot during the day in summer yet cold at night and valleys like Astore Valley, Astore,
Khaplu Khaplu (Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organi ...

Khaplu
, Yasin, Hunza, and Nagar Valley, Nagar, where the temperatures are cold even in summer.


Economy and resources

The economy of the region is primarily based on a traditional trade route, the historic Silk Road. The China Trade Organization forum led the people of the area to actively invest and learn modern trade know-how from their Chinese neighbour,
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
. Later, the establishment of a chamber of commerce and the Sust dry port in Gojal Hunza are milestones. The rest of the economy is shouldered by mainly agriculture and tourism. Agricultural products are wheat, corn (maize), barley, and fruits. Tourism is mostly in trekking and
mountaineering Mountaineering, or alpinism, is the set of outdoor activities Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation" is a ...

mountaineering
, and this industry is growing in importance. In early September 2009,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
signed an agreement with the People's Republic of China for a major energy project in Gilgit-Baltistan which includes the construction of a 7,000-megawatt dam at Bunji, Pakistan, Bunji in the Astore District.


Mountaineering

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to more than 20 peaks of over , including K-2 the second highest mountain on Earth. Other well known peaks include Masherbrum (also known as K1), Broad Peak, Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum IV, and Chogolisa, situated in Khaplu Valley. The following peaks have so far been scaled by various expeditions:


Tourism

Gilgit Baltistan is the capital of tourism in
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
. Gilgit Baltistan is home to some of the highest peaks in the world, including the second highest peak in the world. Gilgit Baltistan's landscape includes mountains, lakes, glaciers and valleys. Gilgit Baltistan is not only known for its mountains — it is also visited for its landmarks, culture, history and people. K2 Basecamp, Deosai, Naltar Valley, Naltar, Fairy Meadows Bagrot Valley and Hushe valley are common places to visit in Gilgit Baltistan.


Transport

Before 1978, Gilgit-Baltistan was cut off from the rest of the Pakistan and the world due to the harsh terrain and the lack of accessible roads. All of the roads to the south opened toward the Pakistan-administered state of
Azad Kashmir Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ur, , translit=āzād jammū̃ o kaśmīr, translit-std=IAST, ), abbreviated as AJK and colloquially referred to as simply Azad Kashmir, is a region administered by Pakistan as a nominally self-governing entitySee: ...

Azad Kashmir
and to the southeast toward the present-day Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. During the summer, people could walk across the mountain passes to travel to Rawalpindi. The fastest way to travel was by air, but air travel was accessible only to a few privileged local people and to Pakistani military and civilian officials. Then, with the assistance of the Chinese government, Pakistan began construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), which was completed in 1978. The journey from Rawalpindi / Islamabad to Gilgit takes approximately 20 to 24 hours. The
Karakoram Highway The Karakoram Highway ( ur, , translit=śāhirāh qarāquram; known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 ( ur, ) or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a National Highways of Pakistan, national highway whi ...

Karakoram Highway
connects Islamabad to
Gilgit Gilgit (; Shina: ; ur, ) is the capital city of Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakista ...

Gilgit
and
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
, which are the two major hubs for mountaineering expeditions in Gilgit-Baltistan. Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO) offers bus and jeep transport service to the two hubs and several other popular destinations, lakes, and glaciers in the area. Landslides on the Karakoram Highway are very common. The Karakoram Highway connects Gilgit to Tashkurgan Town, Kashgar, China via Sust, the customs and health-inspection post on the Gilgit-Baltistan side, and the Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved international border crossing in the world at . In March 2006, the respective governments announced that, commencing on 1 June 2006, a thrice-weekly bus service would begin across the boundary from Gilgit to Kashgar and road-widening work would begin at of the Karakoram Highway. There would also be one daily bus in each direction between the Sust and Taxkorgan border areas of the two political entities. Pakistan International Airlines used to fly a Fokker F27 Friendship daily between Gilgit Airport and Benazir Bhutto International Airport. The flying time was approximately 50 minutes, and the flight was one of the most scenic in the world, as its route passed over
Nanga Parbat Nanga Parbat (; ), known locally as Diamer (), is the ninth-highest mountain on Earth, its summit at above sea level. Lying immediately southeast of the northernmost bend of the Indus river The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A tr ...

Nanga Parbat
, a mountain whose peak is higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. However, the Fokker F27 was retired after a crash at Multan in 2006. Currently, flights are being operated by PIA to Gilgit on the brand-new ATR 42-500, ATR 42–500, which was purchased in 2006. With the new plane, the cancellation of flights is much less frequent. Pakistan International Airlines also offers regular flights of a Boeing 737 between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights are subject to weather clearance; in winter, flights are often delayed by several days. A railway through the region has been proposed; see Khunjerab Railway for details.


Population


Demographics

The population of Gilgit Baltistan is 1,492,000 now and it was 873,000 in 1998. Approximately 14% of the population was urban. The estimated population of Gilgit-Baltistan in 2013 was 1.249 million. The population of Gilgit-Baltistan consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious sects, due in part to the many isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. The ethnic groups include Dard people, Shins, Yashkuns, Kashmiris, Kashgaris, Pamiris, Pathans, and Kohistanis. A significant number of people from Gilgit-Baltistan are residing in other parts of Pakistan, mainly in Punjab and Karachi. The literacy rate of Gilgit-Baltistan is approximately 72%. In 2017 census, Gilgit District has the highest population of 330,000 and Hunza District the lowest of 50,000.


Languages

Gilgit-Baltistan is a multilingual region where Urdu being a national and official language serves as the lingua franca for inter ethnic communications. English is co-official and also used in education, while Arabic is used for religious purposes. The table below shows a break-up of Gilgit-Baltistan first-language speakers.


Religion

The population of Gilgit-Baltistan is entirely Muslim and is denominationally the most diverse in the country. The region is also the only Shia-plurality area in an otherwise Sunni-dominant Pakistan. People in the Skardu district are mostly Shia, while Diamir and Astore districts have Sunni majorities. Ghanche has a Noorbakhshi population, and Ghizar has an Ismaili majority. The populations in Gilgit, Hunza and Nagar districts are composed of a mix of all of these sects. According to Cabinet Secretariat (India), Indian government official, B. Raman, the Shias and Ismailis constituted about 85% of the population in 1948. The proportion was brought down by General Zia ul-Haq through a conscious policy of demographic change by encouraging the migration of Sunnis from other provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The policy is said to have been motivated by a desire to counter the growing sectarian consciousness of the Shias after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.


Culture

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to diversified cultures, ethnic groups, languages and backgrounds. Major cultural events include the Shandoor Polo Festival, Babusar Polo Festival and Jashn-e-Baharan or the Harvest Time Festival (Navroz). Traditional dances include: ''Old Man Dance'' in which more than one person wears old-style dresses; ''Cow Boy Dance'' (Payaloo) in which a person wears old style dress, long leather shoes and holds a stick in hand and the ''Sword Dance'' in which the participants show taking one sword in right and shield in left. One to six participants can dance in pairs.


Sports

Many types of sports are in currency, throughout the region, but most popular of them is Polo. Almost every bigger valley has a polo ground, polo matches in such grounds attract locals as well as foreigners visitors during summer season. One of such polo tournament is held in Shandur Polo Festival, Shandur each year and polo teams of Gilgit with Chitral participates. Though very internationally unlikely, but even for some local historians like Hassan Hasrat from Skardu and for some national writers like Ahmed Hasan Dani it was originated in same region. For testimonies, they present the Epic of King Gesar of balti version where king gesar started polo by killing his step son and hit head of cadaver with a stick thus started the game they also held that the very simple rules of local polo game also testifies its primitiveness. The English word ''Polo'' has Balti language, balti origin, that is spoken in same region, dates back to the 19th century which means ball. Other popular sports are association football, football, cricket, volleyball (mostly play in winters) and other minor local sports. with growing facilities and particular local geography Climbing, trekking and other similar sports are also getting popularity. Samina Baig from Hunza valley is the only Pakistanis, Pakistani woman and the third Pakistani to climb Mount Everest and also the youngest Muslim woman to climb Everest, having done so at the age of 21 while Hassan Sadpara from
Skardu , nickname = , motto = , image_skyline = , map_caption = , pushpin_map = Gilgit Baltistan#Pakistan , pushpin_label_position ...

Skardu
valley is the first Pakistani to have climbed six eight-thousanders including the world's highest peak Everest (8848m) besides (8611m), Gasherbrum I (8080m), Gasherbrum II (8034m),
Nanga Parbat Nanga Parbat (; ), known locally as Diamer (), is the ninth-highest mountain on Earth, its summit at above sea level. Lying immediately southeast of the northernmost bend of the Indus river The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A tr ...

Nanga Parbat
(8126 m), Broad Peak (8051m).


See also

* Balti people * Balti language * List of mountains in Pakistan * List of cities in Gilgit Baltistan * List of cultural heritage sites in Gilgit-Baltistan


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * First published as * * *
* *


External links


Official Website of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council

Official Website of the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan

Official Tourism Website of the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan

Official Website of Ministry of Kashmir & Gilgit-Baltistan
* * {{DEFAULTSORT:GilgitBaltistan Gilgit-Baltistan, Subdivisions of Pakistan Disputed territories in Asia Foreign relations of Pakistan States and territories established in 1970 Territorial disputes of India