Wakhan is a strip of land in the Pamir Mountain range where China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan share borders. The Wakhan Corridor runs North East from mainland Afghanistan to the border of China, while Tajikistan is in the north and Pakistan is in the south. The strip is 350 kilometers long and 13 to 65 kilometres wide. The total area of the strip is 10,300 square kilometers, and the population is around 15,000 individuals.
It is the place where three of the highest mountain ranges in the world converge—namely the Karakoram, Hindukush, and Pamir. The Darkot pass is a link from Yasin (GB) to Chitral (KP) and Wakhan through the Baroghil Pass. The Irshad Pass connects the Chupursan river valley, Baba Ghundi, and Gojal (Hunza) with the Wakhan Corridor. The Broghil pass of Chitral crosses the Hindukush range and connects Wakhan.
The inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor are Wakhis and Kirghiz. The Wakhi are the Ismaili Muslims who have close links with the people of Hunza and Ghizer in Gilgit Baltistan. The Kirghiz are of Turkish origin as they descend from the Turko-Mangolian nomads of Chinese Turkestan. The inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor, including parts of Tajikistan, Wakhan district, Kashgar, Chitral, Ishkoman, and upper Hunza (Gojal) share a common history, culture, and language. The century-long rivalry between Russia and British India for the control of Central Asian States is known as the great game. John Keay has discussed the great game played in Gilgit and Wakhan in his book ‘The Gilgit Game.
The Soviets considered Gilgit as the potential launching pad to occupy the Central Asian States from British India. The Britishers were desperate to make sure that their northern border was safe so that Russians could not sneak down through the Hindukush and Pamirs into Gilgit and Chitral.
The earliest history of Wakhan was revealed by a Chinese pilgrim, Hsuan Psung, in 644. Marco Polo passed through it to go to China during the thirteenth century. It was ruled by independent Mirs and, in 1883, the area was under the control of the governor of Badakhshan. The Silk Route from China westward passed over the north of Pamir towards Samarkand or across small valleys south of it through Wakhan, Badakhshan, and onwards to Bacteria—north of Hindukush in the valley of Oxus.
The British sent out expeditions into the area; the first one in the area was Moorcroft, then John Wood in 1937, and followed by Lord Curzan who was searching for the source of the Oxus river. Sire Aurel Stein, the famous British archaeologist, also passed through the region.
In the 19th century, the British adopted a “forward policy,” and at that time Afghanistan was an independent country but under the control of Britishers after the treaty of Gandamak. During the Great Game, the Wakhan Corridor was an independent state which acted as a buffer between the Russian and British empires. Russia claimed Roshan, Shignan, and Wakhan as a successor to the Kokand Khanate.
The Amir of Afghanistan was interested in Roshan and Shignan. However, the Britishers persuaded Amir to exchange Roshan and Shignan with Wakhan. In July 1895, the demarcation of frontiers between Russia, the British Indian Empire, and Afghanistan was carried out. The commission agreed to give all land north of Amur Darya to Russia and all land south of the Amu Darya to Afghanistan. This agreement created the Wakhan Corridor which included the district of Wakhan and went up to the Chinese territory of Xinjiang. The corridor further separated British India from direct contact with Russia.
The British constructed a fort at Kalamdarchi in the Misgar valley of Hunza at the junction of the Kilk and Mintaka pass to check Russian advances from Wakhan Corridor. After the invasion of Afghanistan, Russia established military bases across the country including a base in the Wakhan Corridor which overlooked China and Pakistan strategically.
In June 1981, Wakhan was officially handed to Russia through an agreement between Babrak Karmal and Brezhnev. After the occupation of Wakhan, Russians expelled 2000 to 3000 Kirghiz from the region. The majority of the Kirghiz population fled to Ishkoman in Gilgit under their leader Rahman Gul. I saw Rehman Gul and his companions in the Gilgit bazaar while I was in school. After spending three years there, they were airlifted to Turkey and settled in an area similar to that of Pamir.
Today again, the region has become the center of a new great game played by various players initially after the construction of the Karakoram Highway and now, with the start of CPEC. In 197, The Financial Times wrote that the Karakoram Highway was China’s new outlet to Africa and the Middle East. In the 80s, the Karakoram Highway was termed the ‘Chinese Window to South Asia’.
Now, CPEC is the focus of attention of hostile agencies. Ajit Doval, the Indian national security advisor, went on the record to say that India has a 106 kilometers long non-contiguous border with Afghanistan (Wakhan Corridor). Recently, the Indian home minister made a similar statement in Lok Sabha. However, according to Indian media, even Shah’s own ministry does not recognize any border with Afghanistan.
In 2002, India established a base at Farkhor in Tajikistan with Russian support to transport Indian relief and reconstruction supplies into Afghanistan. Farkhor is linked with the Tajik Ayni air force base where Indian air force personnel are also stationed.
There are media reports that China is planning to construct a road through the Wakhjir pass, the old Silk route, to link Afghanistan and the Central Asian States. This road in the Wakhan Corridor would end up linking Afghanistan and the Central Asian States to the Karakoram Highway and Kashgar. Any road developed after the opening of the Wakhjir pass will give China an upper hand by enhancing its dominance in the region—a clear threat to Indian interest.
The road will also help landlocked Tajikistan to get access to the Karakoram Highway as well as Pakistani ports and Pakistan’s access to mineral-rich central Asian States is likely to improve. The Chinese presence in Afghanistan will be a threat to India. And so, India along with the West is protesting against the Chinese presence in Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor.
China has rejected these so-called claims and confirmed that only joint training with Afghan and Tajik security forces was carried out in the past. The Wakhan Corridor can become a transit route for trade with mineral-rich Central Asian States and will open new avenues of progress and prosperity.
Unlocking Economic and Strategic Benefits: The Gwadar-Kashgar Railway Project
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project is a significant infrastructure project that will connect the deep-water port of Gwadar in southwestern Pakistan to the city of Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. The project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and is expected to bring significant economic and strategic benefits to both Pakistan and China. In this article, we will explore the economic and strategic benefits of the project, as well as some of the environmental, security, financial, and geopolitical implications of the project.
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project is expected to transform the economies of both Pakistan and China. The project will provide a more efficient and cost-effective way of transporting goods between the two countries, opening up new trade routes and creating new job opportunities. The project will also have a transformative impact on the economy of Gilgit-Baltistan, providing new avenues for growth and development in the region. The railway line will connect China’s western region to Pakistan’s Gwadar port, giving China access to the Arabian Sea and a new trade route to the rest of the world. This will provide new markets and create new opportunities for economic growth and development.
The project will enhance Pakistan’s strategic importance as a key player in the region, with the potential to bring in significant investments and enhance its position as a regional power. It will also improve Pakistan’s energy security and reduce its dependence on existing trade routes that are vulnerable to geopolitical risks. The project will provide China with a new trade route to the Arabian Sea, diversify its energy supply, and enhance its strategic presence in the region. The project will also have broader strategic benefits for the wider region, helping to enhance regional stability and reduce the potential for conflict.
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project, as a major infrastructure project, raises several security concerns. The project passes through some areas that are currently affected by security concerns, including Balochistan and Xinjiang. These areas have experienced various incidents of terrorism, separatism, and unrest in recent years, which could pose a security threat to the project.
The security of the project will be a key concern for both Pakistan and China. Pakistan has faced significant security challenges in the past, particularly in its Balochistan province, where separatist groups have been active. These groups have targeted various infrastructure projects, including the Gwadar port, which has faced security threats in the past. Therefore, ensuring the security of the Gwadar-Kashgar railway project will be a major challenge for Pakistan.
Similarly, Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, has faced security challenges in recent years, particularly with regards to its Uyghur population. The Chinese government has been accused of human rights violations against the Uyghurs, and there have been reports of violent incidents in the region. The project’s route passes through Xinjiang, and there are concerns about the potential for security incidents in the region that could disrupt the project’s construction or operation.
Furthermore, the project could also have broader security implications for the region. The project’s proximity to Iran and Afghanistan, two countries with complex security situations, could pose additional security risks. The project could also be vulnerable to cyber-attacks, particularly given its reliance on digital technologies and infrastructure.
To mitigate security risks, both Pakistan and China will need to take steps to ensure the security of the project. This could involve deploying additional security personnel, implementing stricter security measures, and collaborating with local communities to address security concerns. The project’s planners will need to conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential security threats and develop appropriate mitigation strategies.
The security of the Gwadar-Kashgar railway project is a major concern, given the security challenges in the areas through which it passes. Pakistan and China will need to take proactive steps to ensure the security of the project and mitigate potential security risks. By doing so, they can help ensure the successful completion and operation of the project, and unlock its significant economic and strategic benefits.
Financing and Funding:
The cost of the project is estimated to be around $58 billion, making it one of the largest infrastructure projects in the world. The project’s funding and financing arrangements will be a key consideration, and it is likely that a combination of public and private financing will be used to fund the project.
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project has significant geopolitical implications for the region, particularly in terms of its impact on the balance of power in South Asia and Central Asia. The project will not only strengthen economic ties between China and Pakistan but also have wider implications for the region’s security and political landscape.
Firstly, the project could lead to a significant shift in the balance of power in South Asia. The railway will provide China with a direct link to the Arabian Sea, which will help it bypass the strategically vulnerable Malacca Strait and reduce its dependence on the South China Sea for maritime trade. This will enhance China’s economic and military presence in the Indian Ocean region, and could potentially pose a challenge to India’s traditional dominance in the region.
Secondly, the project will increase Pakistan’s strategic significance for China. Pakistan is already a key partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and the completion of the Gwadar-Kashgar railway project will further strengthen their strategic partnership. This will enhance China’s ability to project its influence in the region, particularly in the context of the China-India rivalry.
Thirdly, the project will have significant implications for Central Asia. The railway will provide China with a direct link to the resource-rich Central Asian states, which are strategically located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. This will enable China to expand its economic influence in the region and challenge Russia’s traditional dominance in Central Asia.
Fourthly, the project could potentially exacerbate existing tensions in the region. The project passes through areas that are affected by security concerns, including Balochistan and Xinjiang, and could potentially exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions in the region. Additionally, the project could potentially heighten tensions between India and Pakistan, particularly given India’s concerns about China’s growing influence in the region.
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project has significant geopolitical implications for the region. While the project has the potential to strengthen economic ties between China and Pakistan and unlock significant economic and strategic benefits, it also poses potential security risks and could potentially exacerbate existing tensions in the region. The project’s planners will need to carefully consider these implications and develop appropriate mitigation strategies to ensure its success
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project has the potential to cause significant environmental damage, particularly to sensitive ecosystems in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is important for the project’s planners to take steps to minimize the environmental impact of the project.
The Gwadar-Kashgar railway project is a major milestone in the economic and strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. The project has the potential to transform the economies of both countries, as well as the wider region. It will provide a new trade route to the rest of the world, opening up new markets and creating new opportunities for economic growth and development. The project will also have significant strategic benefits, enhancing the strategic importance of both Pakistan and China and reducing their dependence on existing trade routes that are vulnerable to geopolitical risks. However, it is important to consider the environmental, security, financial, and geopolitical implications of the project as well. By doing so, we can ensure that the project delivers on its promise of unlocking economic and strategic benefits for all stakeholders
Gilgit-Baltistan and the Geopolitics of the Third Pole
The vast glaciers of the Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Pamirs, spreading across the highlands of Central and South Asia, are considered to be the globe’s third pole. Interestingly, these mountain ranges converge over Pakistan administered Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) in a unique way, making the region the undisputed core of the third pole. While mega glaciers underscore GB’s significance for regional hydrology and ecology, the region’s ability to connect Asia’s key peripheries makes it a distinctive geospatial entity. Notwithstanding growing climate change concerns and the need for a concerted climate action, India has recently been expressing an intent of confrontation vis-à-vis GB. India’s Defense Minister’s statement, “not to stop until reaching GB” seems to be an extension of the belligerent policies being adopted by the Modi government, especially towards Kashmir and Pakistan. By getting hold of GB, India could attempt to not only disconnect Pakistan and China but also get access to Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Given China’s strategic and economic interests, especially the country’s recent mega investments in GB’s infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Beijing has become a direct stakeholder in the region. Thus, India’s intentions of adventurism in GB might also have the motivation of killing two birds with one stone, or in other words, to give a try to its “two-front war” mantra. With general election in India due next year, the ruling party has to show to its public a disposition of a great power. Challenging both its nuclear rivals at a time would serve to win greater public mandate on the one hand, while on the other, the feat would put to test New Delhi’s partnership with Washington. For now, Washington appears to be turning a blind eye towards New Delhi’s actions in Kashmir. Any Indian actions to come eyeball to eyeball with China are likely to get the support of the U.S. Under the prevailing situation, it is imperative for Pakistan and China to take immediate measures to halt India from taking another unilateral decision and carry out any kind of adventurism in the third pole’s core.
A growing economy, popular government, and U.S. support seem to be a part of the reason behind India’s coercive diplomacy and policies. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s passive reactions emanating out of the state of confusion to decide the fate of GB and a lack of internal cohesion are other factors New Delhi appears to be capitalising on. Islamabad seems puzzled whether to constitutionally mainstream GB or keep it in a contested state to retain its international status at the United Nations. Both geography and history indicate GB to be a distinctive region and having a separate identity than Kashmir’s. The locals, wary of the Dogras of Kashmir for invading and imposing ill practices of slavery and forced labour, revolted against the Raj and acceded to Pakistan. India considers GB as a part of the then state of Kashmir and lays claim on it. Ironically, Pakistan’s inability to give constitutional status to GB and its linking the region to Kashmir are making the situation more complex. While New Delhi’s unilateral decisions accentuate complexities of an already complicated situation, Islamabad has optimistically been pushing for implementation of UNSC resolutions and arrangement of a plebiscite across the territories of GB, Ladakh, and Kashmir.
Nevertheless, keeping GB in a state of limbo does not bode well for China’s interests in the region. China and Pakistan concluded a border agreement in 1963 and ceded land to each other. During the following decade and a half, both countries constructed the strategic Karakoram Highway (KKH) — the only road link between the two countries. The recent push under CPEC to improve regional economic opportunities has brought mega investments to GB, to upgrade the KKH by constructing state-of-the-art tunnels through rugged mountains. Considerable investment is also being done to enhance power generation capacity. China must be cognizant of the fact that GB’s geographic position provides a perfect opportunity for expansion of its geoeconomic initiatives to Afghanistan and Central Asia. However, India raising a question on the sovereignty issue related to the project has added to tensions. This gives the U.S. a perfect justification not only for non-recognition of China’s economic initiative but also to discourage its European allies from taking part in it.
While this remains to be a key concern for China, India’s unilateral manoeuvring in its immediate neighbourhood seems to be a graver concern. Beforehand, New Delhi’s unilateral decision to annex Kashmir’s autonomous status has dented the delicate equation of regional stability. The ongoing India’s aggressive rhetoric of trespassing and reaching GB reeks of a country pursuing regional hegemony, or in other words, challenging China’s regional supremacy. This is coming at a time when the U.S., in its latest National Security Strategy, has committed to bolstering alliances and partnerships against China.
There is a reason Pakistan and China need to take India’s intent of confrontation seriously. Before the last general election, the Indian leadership made similar statements vis-a-vis Kashmir, and materialised what was said, immediately after the polls. Despite listening to repeated calls from the Indian leadership to change the status quo in Kashmir, Pakistani and Chinese authorities were irresponsive. Therefore, it is time for both Beijing and Islamabad to take immediate steps not only to avoid geopolitics but also to force New Delhi to use a different lens when perceiving this vital geospatial territory.
Given the significance of GB for regional ecology and hydrology, Islamabad and Beijing must make climate action a priority over geopolitics in the region. China has already been undertaking extraordinary research to preserve its glaciers and promote eco-friendly trends over ecologically sensitive places. Capitalising on this, Pakistan and China should make efforts to establish a climate-centric regional consortium of third pole countries. An agenda to declare the third pole a collective regional or global asset and make ways to declare it a nuclear weapons free zone would certainly help reduce hostilities. Furthermore, making its core, GB, a top priority for undertaking climate action, and promoting eco-friendly trends of tourism and energy generation would also benefit regional countries. This is so because it will help advance an amiable environment and avoid geopolitical volatilities. India joining this consortium would be crucial for its success. However, New Delhi’s non-participation would confirm that the country is soon going to materialise its confrontational rhetoric. In that case, Pakistan and China, while continuing efforts to preserve the environment, will have to take more drastic measures. Maybe, it is time to ensure the security of the third pole’s core. Therefore, China and Pakistan must transform their partnership into an alliance by preparing for joint air and ground defences to deter India from taking another unilateral action detrimental for regional stability. Failing to deter India from taking any kind of misadventures could result in a limited or total war over a region comprising the most glaciers outside the polar zone. Such an eventuality will certainly have global consequences.
The Gilgit Game, Then and Now
The term great game is attributed to Captain Arthur Canolly who in 1840 in a letter mentioned it to Major Henry Rawlinson Political Agent Kandahar. It was also used by novelist Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim in 1901. It was first used academically by Professor Davis in a presentation titled “The Great Game in Asia” on 10 Nov 1926. The strategic rivalry between British Empire and Russian Empire for gaining supremacy in Central Asia is known as “Great Game”. The British wanted to protect their interest in sub-continent and against a possible soviet advance.
Gilgit-Baltistan was important in 1880s during the great game when Russian was occupying Central Asian cities and was pressing Pamirs, Oxus and Afghanistan. Being in a far-flung area still for the British, Gilgit was fulcrum of Asia. Therefore they sent British officers to see the situation of northern frontier on ground and report. The Gilgit game is simply the story of how and by whom such a remote area was explored appropriated and Gilgit game was played. Importance of Gilgit was also appreciated and from its northern passes Central Asia could be reach direct from Gilgit. This forced the British to develop a new policy to be known as forward policy. It was this policy, the British started exploring the areas of their interest and fact finding missions were sent to Gilgit. The first foreigner (European) who visited this region was in 1830, explorer Godfrey Thomas Vigne who had reached Hattu Pir above the Astore River and brought back some first eye witness account of the Indus at Bunji. In 1847 two British officers Vans Agnew and Ralph Young crossed Indus for the demarcation of boundary before Gilgit turned back. In 1866 Dr. Leitner was the first European who visited this region properly. He again visited Gilgit in 1886 when he was sponsored by British government for a linguistic enquiry on Hunza/Nagar. His visit had drawn attention of British India of this remote region.
It was because of the importance of this region, royal geographic society sponsored expeditions to this region. It was royal geographical society which recommended the forward policy to bring Gilgit within the framework of British India’s outer defence. They sent George Hayward a well-known explorer to find the source of the Oxus. He made four attempts between July 1868 to July 1870 to reach Pamirs. The Kashmir Darbar was trying to dissuade him from going to Gilgit because they never wanted an English man to see exact state frontiers. Hayward was murdered in Yasin on 18 July, 1870 in mysterious circumstances. The ruler of Yasin was accused behind the murder. Later Frederick Drew the writer of “Jammu and Kashmir Territories” 1875 was detailed to inquire into the circumstances of his death, whose conclusions were that Aman-ul-Malik of Chitral was instrumental in the murder of Hayward, as he was considered as British agent in the region. Maharaja of Kashmir was also accused as an instigator who was jealous of British dealing direct with the people of Gilgit.
According to Drew instructions of murder were given by Maharaja and paid rupees 10000 to Malik Aman of Yasin for the murder. John Biddulph between (1876 to 1880) would become the first explorer to visit Hunza and first into Chitral was sent to Gilgit as an officer on special duty on a crucial mission which was highly confidential i.e., espionage. He was sent to the area after the murder Hayward because his murder further brought Gilgit to public attention across Europe. Biddulph was sent firstly to inspect the northern approaches through passes to British India; secondly to assess the extension of Kashmir rule right upto the passes and to post Dogra troops for imperial defence. Though, Hunza/Nagar was not in his mission, however, he was invited by Mir of Hunza. In August 1876 he left for Hunza to explore valley up to Wakhan and returning down to Ishkuman. His recommendation to British India was, that Chaprot (Nagar) should be occupied by Maharaja’s troops to secure Gilgit from attacks from Hunza and Nagar. Hunza was important for the British because of the passes leading to Pamirs and to the valley of Yarkand river as it was bounded on the north and east by Hindukush. He added that Raja of Yasin who controlled not only Yasin and Ishkuman valleys but also upper Chitral held the keys to India and the sooner they could be transferred to safer hands better. Therefore, the appointment of political agent at Gilgit was first step towards total political control of Gilgit by British India.
It was during the time of Viceroy Lord Northbrook that the Gilgit game was actually started with an eye on Sinkiang as the British were afraid of Russia occupying Sinkiang. This was the time when Afghanistan was claiming Chitral and Badakshan and for British to acknowledge Afghan claim to Chitral would have meant abandoning the Hindukush as British frontiers.
In 1889 a Russian political officer Capt Grombtchevski with a Cossack escort was in Hunza. He concluded an agreement with Mir and Russia was allowed a set up a post in Hunza. Mir also agreed to seek Russia’s help if attacked from Gilgit. The Russian officer advised Mir to stay away from British influence and also assured of military help of 300 rifles and two guns and promised to train people of Hunza as well. The presence of Russian officer in Hunza was taken as the start of Gilgit game. It was also during this time China also claimed Hunza as its territory. Before the arrival of Algernon Durand to Gilgit, Hayward was murdered at Yasin, Biddulph returned after having a tenure in Gilgit and Colonel Lockhart (later Commander in Chief) mission visited Gilgit, Hunza, crossed Hindukush passed through Wakhan and traversed Chitral territory. Colonel Lockhart mission (1885) was to obtain correct knowledge of Hindukush range, population and resources. Also mission was to go to Chitral by way of Gilgit to get full information of the region. Lord Dufferin, Viceroy sent Colonel Algernon Durand as a political agent in 1888 to Gilgit for reopening of Gilgit agency. In March 1889 Gilgit agency was re-established and Durand was appointed as political agent.
Durand’s mission was to stop Mir of Hunza from developing relations with China and Russia and also from carrying out raids on Silk Route to Yarkand, also to enquire the outbreak of hostilities between Hunza/Nagar and Kashmir. In 1889 the conclusion of Durand was that nothing can stop a Russian officer with a thousand Cossacks from reaching Astore in ten days after crossing the passes of Hindukush and from watering their horses in Wular Lake four days later. Roads through Hunza and Nagar were vital for the defence of British Empire against Russia. Apprehensive of Mir of Hunza’s developing contacts with Russia and his refusal to come to the terms, Durand led Hunza/Nagar expedition on the direction of British government. The British were also afraid if not cleared in time Hunza can get help from China and Russia.
The people of Hunza fought very well with bravery against largest and best equipped army of the world. After the tough battle at Nilt finally the British succeeded in entering Hunza on 22 December 1891. In autumn 1894 Lord Curzon visited Gilgit then Hunza to Pamir through Kilk Pass to get first-hand information of the region. He returned to Gilgit by the way of Wakhan, Chitral through Shandur Pass. In 1892 tribal people from Darel, Tangir and Kohistan revolted and attacked Chilas to capture it but did not succeed. Colonel Algernon Durand led the forces from Gilgit to control the rebellion and in 1893 Chilas was occupied and retained because of its shortest route to British India via Babusar top. In 1935 according to a lease agreement all trans Indus (west of Indus) territory was to be administered by British Political Agent to strengthen their hold while Kashmir Administration was confirmed to cis Indus (east of Indus). This agreement remain in force upto July 1947.
Gilgit-Baltistan is strategically as important as it used to be in 1885 when Russian troops moved down towards Pamirs to get footing on the southern side of the Hindukush and further advance to British India. Today again, Gilgit-Baltistan has become a centre of a new great game played by India, United States, China and Afghanistan with the start of CPEC. The US defence secretary while appearing before Senate and House Armed Service Committee informed them that CPEC passes through disputed territory. The importance of Gilgit-Baltistan increased initially with the construction of Karakoram Highway (KKH) and now with the start of CPEC. The CPEC covers almost 500 kilometres in Gilgit-Baltistan, therefore the success of CPEC depends on Gilgit, the gateway. The distance from Kashgar to Gwadar is 3000 kilometers and Gwadar port will save at least 11000 kilometres of distance for fuel shipment and transportation. The United States interest in the region is to contain China’s advancement in the region. The US is afraid of China controlling Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Eurasian states and exploring their resources. In the past, India levelled baseless allegations about the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit. It was a simple attempt to malign Pakistan through baseless propaganda. Ajit Doval, Indian national security advisor is on record who said we also have 106 kilometers long non-contiguous border with Afghanistan (Wakhan Corridor).
India has established a special cell at the cost of 500 million dollars to sabotage CPEC. The federal interior ministry has already warned Gilgit-Baltistan’s administration that India has made plans to attack the CPEC installations to sabotage the mega project. Reportedly, in the past RAW has been instrumental into exploiting sectarian issue because of its known history of turbulence and this remains a major threat and odd incident can trigger sectarian clashes. Some dissident groups (sponsored) from abroad are running a campaign to incite local youth of Gilgit-Baltistan. There is a small group of sub nationalists who does not enjoy any significant support in the region however, exploiting the issue of constitutional status by instigating the minds of young generations. The loyalty and sincerity of people of Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be doubted as the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are completely loyal to Pakistan and all of them willing to lay their life for Pakistan. Gilgit-Baltistan was liberated by the people themselves without any outside assistance and decided to join Pakistan unconditionally. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan want their identity with Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan be made a province within the federation of Pakistan yet in accordance with UN resolutions on Kashmir.