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.
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.
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