The ‘Great Game’ in Gilgit Baltistan

The possible presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan may signal the start of a new 'great game' in the region.

Shabir Ahmed October 26, 2010
The latest allegation by India about the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit-Baltistan has sparked a new debate in the region.

Some accuse India of attempting to malign Pakistan and say that it is time-tested friend China through ‘baseless’ propaganda; while others construe it as the beginning of a new "Great Game."

The term “great game” is not new to the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, as the mountain-locked area has suffered a history of invasions.

The British captured Gilgit-Baltistan during the 19th century and ruled over it for years, in order to keep a check on the increasing Russian influence in the region.

Although they succeeded in their efforts, it was the local population that had to pay the price of destruction and slavery.

Notwithstanding the question of the Chinese army’s presence in Gilgit-Baltistan, speculations that the northern part of Pakistan is going to be the next battlefield of the Great Game are gaining strength.

The recent flood that devastated the infrastructure of Gilgit and the rest of its valleys were followed by an influx of relief aid flown in by the US. This has raised many eyebrows, reinforcing the conspiracy associated with American interests in G-B: to contain China’s “advancement” inside Pakistan (The Karakoram highway may be an example of it).

And for that matter, who else could be a better aide for America than India?

Although it was officially declared that US aircrafts and the Pakistan army’s C-130s carried winter stocks for flood victims in G-B, it didn’t put an end to speculations looking for a nexus between the two events – the presence of China’s army and the rush of C-17 aircraft.

The onslaught of US aircrafts, especially in Skardu in the past month, has sparked suspicions that America has hidden motives in the region, with regard to China.

If the new Great Game theory takes form in reality, the three important players-China, India and the US -will fight their wars in land best suited to it: Gilgit-Baltistan.

Let’s hope that the speculations are mere assumptions that have basis in reality.
Shabir Ahmed A reporter for The Express Tribune.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


andrea | 13 years ago | Reply @SKChadha: Speak to anyone from Gilgit Baltistan and you'll see very soon that no one there thinks of themselves as Indian and no one wants to be part of India- period. If anything locals there are more committed to free occupied Kashmir because we suffered the most under the Dogras. We may have challenges within Pakistan but it is our home and we are with it.
M H Nagri | 13 years ago | Reply I deem it wise to agree with Mr Chand whatever he commented except the opinion that "GB is part of Kashmir". Mr SK Chand has rightly highlighted the grievances ,deprivations and dirty games played by military cum non local bureaucracy. I also agree with Noor Muhammad who raised such valuable comments.
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