September 01, 2010
By Kunal Ghosh
B Raman's analysis of China's motives regarding POK and our J & K are to the point. I would like to add one more dimension.
Although Gilgit and Baltistan are both Shia, there is a major difference between the two. Gilgit has a population that is coccasoid by race whereas Balti people are racially the same with our people in Ladakh. What is more significant is that they speak the same language, a form of Western Tibetan and use the same script as our people in Leh. The use of Arabic script, which is being imposed by Pakistan, has still not taken roots. So much for linguistics.
Now about geography and politics. Before 1947 there was a single Ladakh district, consisting of Baltistan, Kargil and Leh subdivisions. After the invasion of Kashmir by Kawailis aided by Pak army in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India and the Indian army pushed the invaders back, but due to Nehru's crave for international fame the issue was refered to UN and the army was stopped in its track before it could occupy a territory with a secure border. Many analysts say that the army should have taken the whole of POK right then. I disagree. It would have been impossible to keep control of the mountaneous parts of POK.
The army should have taken the whole of the valley including Muzaffarabad and also Baltistan which is a part of the Ladakh plateau and contiguous with the Kargil part of Ladakh. The people of Baltistan are mostly Shia with a small Buddhist minority and had always lived cheek by jowl with their Buddhist fellow Ladakhi in peace sharing the same language, script, cuisine and many customs. Strangely, the people of Kargil have started using the Arabaic script more than thier Balti brethren. This is due to imposition of Urdu by the J & K govt, while the Central Govt remained oblivious of the implications of this linguistic shift. The people of Baltistan benefited initially by the benign neglect of Pak authorities and could retain thier script. But that has changed now with the policy of Sunni outsider settlement. Now there is a simmering revolt against Pakistan and China is fishing in these troubled waters. The Chinese would like to prevent the Baltis from developing affinity with their most proximate fellow Ladakhis across the LOC. Since the populace is Tibetan speaking, the Chinese will definitely lay a claim on Baltistan in future.
Their present moves within Northern POK and infusion of a large number of Chinese personnel and building of permanent housing for them should be interpreted in this light. In contrast, how ignorant of cultural linkages, linguistics and strategic foresight have our policy-makers been !?
Posted by Naxal Watch at 7:55 AM