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Gilgit-Baltistan
Flag of Gilgit-Baltistan Map of Pakistan with Gilgit-Baltistan highlighted
Country
Pakistan Pakistan
Capital
Coordinates
Gilgit
35°21′N 75°54′E / 35.35°N 75.9°E / 35.35; 75.9
Largest city Gilgit
Population (2008)
 • Density
1,800,000 (Estimate)
 • 20.7/km²
Area
72496 km²
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Main language(s) Urdu (national)
(regional)
Shina
Burushaski
Balti Tibetan
Wakhi
Khowar
Status Autonomous
Districts 7
Towns 7
Union councils
Established 1 July 1970
Governor/Commissioner Qamar Zaman Kaira[1]
Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah [2]
Legislature (seats) Gilgit-Baltistan
Legislative Assembly (33[3])
Website http://www.visitnorthernareas.gov.pk

Gilgit-Baltistan (Urdu: گلگت بلتستان, Gilgit-Baltistān) is a territory in Norhtern Pakistan. The territory, which does not constitute a province of Pakistan, was formerly known as the Northern Areas (Urdu: شمالی علاقہ جات,
Shumālī Ilāqe Jāt).[4] It is the northernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It borders Afghanistan to the north, China to the northeast, the Pakistani-administered state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to the south, and the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. The territory became a single administrative unit in 1970 under the name "Northern Areas" and was formed by the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar. With its administrative center at the town of Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan covers an area of 72,971 km² (28,174 mi²) and has an estimated population approaching 1,000,000. Pakistan considers the territory as separate from Kashmir whereas India considers the territory as a part of the larger disputed territory of Kashmir that has been in dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947.

Contents

History

Before the independence of Pakistan and the partition of India in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh extended his rule to Gilgit and Baltistan. After the partition, Jammu and Kashmir, in its entirety, remained an independent state. The Pakistani parts of Kashmir to the north and west of the cease-fire line established at the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, or the Line of Control as it later came to be called, were divided into the Northern Areas (72,971 km²) in the north and the Pakistani state of Azad Kashmir (13,297 km²) in the south. The name "Northern Areas" was first used by the United Nations to refer to the northern areas of Kashmir. A small part of the Northern Areas, the Shaksgam tract, was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963.

Gilgit-Baltistan, which was most recently known as the Northern Areas, presently consists of seven districts, has a population approaching one million, has an area of approximately 28,000 square miles, and shares borders with Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and India. The people of this remote region were liberated from the Dogra regime of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir on 1 November 1947 without any external assistance and then became citizens of a self-liberated and very short-lived independent state. The new state asked the government of Pakistan to provide it with necessary assistance with which to conduct its affairs, as it did not have the necessary administrative infrastructure of its own. The government of Pakistan accepted the request and sent Sardar Muhammad Alam Khan, an extra assistant commissioner from the NWFP, to Gilgit. Sardar Muhammad Alam Khan then took control of the territory's administration as its first appointed political agent.[5]

The local Northern Light Infantry is the army unit that was believed to have assisted and possibly participated in the 1999 Kargil conflict. More than 500 soldiers were believed to have been killed and buried in the Northern Areas in that action.[6] Lalak Jan, a soldier from Yasin Valley, was awarded Pakistan's most prestigious medal, the Nishan-e-Haider, for his courageous actions during the Kargil conflict.

Autonomous status and present-day Gilgit-Baltistan

On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the President Asif Ali Zardari. It granted self-rule to the people of the former Northern Areas, now renamed "Gilgit-Baltistan," by creating, among other things, an elected legislative assembly.[7]

In early September 2009, Pakistan signed an agreement with China of a mega energy project in Gilgit-Baltistan which includes the construction of a 7000-megawatt dam at Bunji in the Astore District of the Gilgit-Baltistan.[8] This also resulted in protest from India, however Indian concerns were immediately rejected by Pakistan, saying the Government of India has no locus standi in the matter.[9]

On September 29, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani while addressing a huge gathering at Gilgit-Baltistan announced a multi-billion rupee development package aimed at the socio-economic uplifting people in the area. Development projects will include the areas of education, health, agriculture, tourism and basic needs of life.[10][11][12] The Prime Minister further went on to say:

"You are getting your identity today. It is your right and has been your demand, and today we are fulfilling it." [13]

Subdivisions

Map of Gilgit-Baltistan, showing the boundaries of the six previous districts and their tehsils. The boundary between the recently created Hunza-Nagar District and the now smaller Gilgit District is the same line as the northern boundary of the former Gilgit Tehsil, which is the southernmost division of the area shown above in light blue. Sikanderabad, the administrative center of the new Hunza-Nagar District, is not yet shown on this map.

Gilgit-Baltistan is administratively divided into two divisions which, in turn, are divided into seven districts,[14] including the two Baltistan districts of Skardu and Ghanche, and the five Gilgit districts of Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Astore, and Hunza-Nagar. The main political centres are the towns of Gilgit and Skardu.

Division District Area (km²) Population (1998) Headquarters
Baltistan Ghanche 9,400 88,366 Khaplu
  Skardu 18,000 214,848 Skardu
Gilgit Astore 8,657 71,666 Eidghah
  Diamir 10,936 131,925 Chilas
Ghizar 9,635 120,218 Gahkuch
  Gilgit 39,300 383,324 Gilgit
  Hunza-Nagar
Gilgit-Baltistan total 7 districts 72,971 970,347 Gilgit

Geography

K2 as seen from Concordia

Gilgit-Baltistan borders the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang to the northeast, the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir to the south and southeast, the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south, and Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province to the west.

Until the war in North-West Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan was a major destination for foreign tourists, especially serious mountaineers, because it is home to five of the "eight-thousanders" and to more than fifty peaks above 7000 meters. Gilgit and 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 and the western Himalayas. The Pamir mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) and Nanga Parbat, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.

Three of the world's longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan — the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier. There are, in addition, several high-altitude lakes in Gilgit Baltistan:

The Deosai Plains, called Byarsa in Baltistan, are located above the tree line, and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world at 4,115 meters (14,500 feet). The plateau lies south of Skardu and west of Ladakh. The area was declared to be a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover an area of almost 5,000 square kilometres. For over half the year (between September and May), Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from rest of Baltistan. The villages of Byarsa/Deosai are connected with the Kargil district of Ladakh through an all-weather road, but due to the closure of the border with the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the people of Byarsa and Gultari are stranded for the winter months and are, therefore, not able to take advantage of the economic resources of Ladakh during that time.

Climate

The climate of Gilgit-Baltistan varies from region to region, surrounding mountain ranges creates sharp variations in weather. The eastern part has a moist zone of western Himalayas but going toward Karakoram and Hindu Kush the climate dries considerably.[15]

There are towns like Gilgit and Chilas that are very hot during the day in summer, yet cold at night, and valleys like Astore, Khaplu, Yasin, Hunza, and Nagar where the temperatures are cold even in summer.

Sports

Polo is the favourite game of the people of Gilgit, Chilas, Astore, Hunza, and the surrounding areas. Every year, many tourists visit to enjoy polo in Gilgit Baltistan. Other games such as cricket, gulli danda, kabbadi, and volleyball are also played.

Rock art and petroglyphs

Ancient petroglyphs near Chilas

There are more than 20,000 pieces of rock art and petroglyphs all along the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit Baltistan, concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by various invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The earliest date back to between 5000 and 1000 BCE, showing single animals, triangular men and hunting scenes in which the animals are larger than the hunters. These carvings were pecked into the rock with stone tools and are covered with a thick patina that proves their age. The archaeologist Karl Jettmar has pieced together the history of the area from various inscriptions and recorded his findings in Rock Carvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan[16] and the later released Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads - Rock Carvings Along the Karakoram Highway[17].

Transport

Prior to 1978, Gilgit-Baltistan was cut off from Pakistan due to the harsh terrain and the lack of accessible roads. All of the roads to the south opened towards the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AKJ) and to the southeast towards the present-day Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir. During the summer, people could walk across the mountain passes to travel to Rawalpindi. The fastest way to travel, however, 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 Karakoram Highway (KKH) connects Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu, which are the two major hubs for mountaineering expeditions in Gilgit-Baltistan. The journey from Islamabad to Gilgit takes approximately 20 to 24 hours. Landslides on the Karakoram Highway are very common. The KKH connects Gilgit to Taxkorgan  and Kashgar in China via Sust (the customs and health inspection post on the Northern Areas side) and the Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved international border crossing in the world at 4,693 metres (15,397 feet).

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.

In March 2006, the respective governments announced that, commencing on June 1, 2006, a thrice-weekly bus service would begin across the boundary from Gilgit to Kashgar, China, and road widening work would begin on 600 kilometres 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.[18]

Pakistan International Airlines used to fly a Fokker F27 aircraft daily between Gilgit Airport and Islamabad International Airport. The flying time was approximately 50 minutes, and the flight was one of the most scenic flights in the world, as its route passes over the mountain Nanga Parbat, the peak of which was higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. PIA also offers regular flights of Boeing 737 between Skardu and Islamabad. However, the Fokker F27 aircraft was retired after a crash at Multan in 2006. Currently, flights are being operated by PIA to Gilgit on the brand-new ATR42-500 aircraft, which was purchased in 2006. With the new plane, the cancellation of flights is much less than it was the Fokker aircraft. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and, in winter, flights are often delayed by several days.

Demographics

Languages spoken in Northern Pakistan

The population consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups, due in part to the many isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. Urdu is the lingua franca of the region, understood by most male inhabitants. The Shina language (with several dialects) is the language of 40% of the population, spoken mainly in Gilgit, throughout Diamer, and in some parts of Ghizer. The Balti dialect, a sub-dialect of Ladakhi and part of Tibetan language group, is spoken by the entire population of Baltistan. Minor languages spoken in the region include Wakhi, spoken in upper Hunza, and in some villages in Ghizer, while Khowar is the major language of Ghizer. Burushaski is an isolated language spoken in Hunza, Nagar, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), in some parts of Gilgit and in some villages of Punyal. Another interesting language is Domaaki, spoken by the musician clans in the region. A small minority of people also speak Pashto. People who live in Gilgit-Baltistan, despite that region's being referred to as part of Kashmir, do not speak Kashmiri or any of its dialects.

At the last census (1998), the population of Gilgit-Baltistan was 870,347.[19] Approximately 14% of the population was urban.[20]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Kaira takes oath as acting governor"Dawn (2009)
  2. ^ http://ftp.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=92218&Itemid=1
  3. ^ Legislative Assembly will have directly elected 24 members, besides six women and three technocrats. "Gilgit Baltistan: New Pakistani Package or Governor Rule" 3 September 2009, The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)
  4. ^ "Cabinet approves ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009’" 29 August 2009 Associated Press of Pakistan
  5. ^ http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\11\01\story_1-11-2006_pg7_28
  6. ^ [1] Special Report on Kargil", The Herald (Pakistan)
  7. ^ http://thenews.jang.com.pk/print1.asp?id=197679
  8. ^ http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-gilgit-baltistan-autonomy-qs-01
  9. ^ http://www.asianews.com.pk/7223/pakistan-rejects-indian-protest-on-gilgit-baltistan-bunji-dam.html
  10. ^ http://www.asianews.com.pk/9395/gilani-announces-development-package-for-gilgit-baltistan.html
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ http://www.geo.tv/9-29-2009/49958.htm
  14. ^ "Wrangling over new Astore district headquarters". Dawn Newspaper Internet Edition. http://www.dawn.com/2005/08/01/nat13.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-17.  
  15. ^ WWF Pakistan. "Climate of Northern Areas". WWF Pakistan. http://www.wwfpak.org/nap/dnap_climatechange.php. Retrieved 2009-06-11.  
  16. ^ Rock Carvings and Inscriptions along the Karakorum Highway (Pakistan) - - a brief introduction
  17. ^ BETWEEN GANDHARA AND THE SILK ROADS
  18. ^ "Kashgar-Gilgit bus service planned". Dawn Newspaper Internet Edition. http://www.dawn.com/2006/03/23/nat2.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-17.  
  19. ^ "Administrative Division and Population of the Northern Areas (1998)". Northern Areas Management Information System. http://asp.isb.sdnpk.org/namis/census/NA%20Admin%20Division%20&%20Population.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-17.  
  20. ^ "Population, poverty and environment" (PDF). Northern Areas Strategy for Sustainable Development. http://www.northernareas.org.pk/nassd/soed_pdf/ppe13.pdf. Retrieved 2006-11-17.  

Further reading

  • Pakistan Trekking Guide, by Isobel and Ben Shaw, 1993.
  • Raman, Anita D (February 2004). "Of Rivers and Human Rights: The Northern Areas, Pakistan's Forgotten Colony in Jammu and Kashmir". International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 11: 187–228. doi:10.1163/1571811041631272.  

External links


Template:Pp-semi-protect

Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA)
File:Flag of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q).svg [[File:|125px|Map of Pakistan with Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) highlighted.]]
Country
Pakistan
Capital
 • Coordinates
Gilgit
 • 35°21′N 75°54′E / 35.35°N 75.9°E / 35.35; 75.9
Largest city Gilgit
Population (2008)
 • Density
1,800,000 (Estimate)
 • 20.7/km²
Area
72496 km²
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Main language(s) Urdu (national)
English (national)
Pashto (regional)

Burushaski
Balti Tibetan
Wakhi
Khajuna
Khowar
Status Dependency
 • Districts  •  6
 • Towns  •  7
 • Union Councils  •  
Established
 • Governor/Commissioner
 • Chief Minister
 • Legislature (seats)
   1st July 1970
 • Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan (Chief Executive)[1][2]
 • none
 • Northern Areas
Legislative Assembly (29)
Website [1]

The Northern Areas (Urdu: Template:Nastaliq, Shumālī Ilāqe Jāt) is officially referred to by the government of Pakistan as the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA). The Northern Areas is the northernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It borders Afghanistan to the north, China to the northeast, the Pakistani state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to the south, and the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. The Northern Areas, which became a single administrative unit in 1970, was formed from the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar. With its administrative center at the town of Gilgit, the Northern Areas covers an area of 72,971 km² (28,174 mi²) and has an estimated population approaching 1,000,000. This area is part of the larger disputed territory of Kashmir between India, Pakistan and China.

Contents

History

Before the independence of Pakistan and Partition of India in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh extended his rule to Gilgit and Baltistan. After the partition, Jammu and Kashmir, in its entirety, remained an independent state. The Pakistani parts of Kashmir to the north and west of the cease-fire line established at the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, or the Line of Control as it later came to be called, were divided into the Northern Areas (72,971 km²) in the north and the Pakistani state of Azad Kashmir (13,297 km²) in the south. The name "Northern Areas" was first used by the United Nations, to refer to the northern areas of Kashmir. A small part of the Northern Areas, the Shaksgam tract, was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963.

Competing Territorial Claims

According to Pakistan's constitution, the Northern Areas is not a fully integral part of Pakistan, and its inhabitants have never had any representation in Pakistan's parliament despite such demands by the people living in the area.[3] This lack of representation has led to the founding of groups like the Balawaristan National Front that advocates for independence for this area that they call Balawaristan.[[2]] The government of Pakistan, continues to this day to regard the entire area of the former state as "territory in dispute" to be resolved by a plebiscite to be held at some future date, in order to determine the accession of the entire area to either India or Pakistan. The Indian government considers the entire area of former princely state of Kashmir having acceded to the Union of India and its successor state the Republic of India as per the Instrument of Accession signed by the former ruler of Kashmir[4],a document whose authenticity and validity is disputed by Pakistan.[5]

Subdivisions

The Northern Areas is administratively divided into two divisions which, in turn, are divided into seven districts[6]--the two Baltistan districts of Skardu and Ghanche, and the five Gilgit districts of Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Astore, and Hunza-Nagar. The main political centres are the towns of Gilgit and Skardu.

Division District Area (km²) Population (1998) Headquarters
Baltistan Ghanche 9,400 88,366 Khaplu
  Skardu 18,000 214,848 Skardu
Gilgit Astore8,65771,666 Gorikot
  Diamir 10,936 131,925 Chilas
Ghizar 9,635 120,218 Gahkuch
  Gilgit 21,300 (previous area) 243,324 (previous pop.) Gilgit
  Hunza-Nagar 18,000 140,000 Aliabad
FANA total 7 districts 72,971 970,347 Gilgit

Geography

as seen from Concordia]]

, Skardu, in 2002]] The Northern Areas borders the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang to the northeast, the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir to the south and southeast, the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south, and Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province to the west.

The Northern Areas is a major destination for foreign tourists, especially serious mountaineers, because it is home to five of the "eight-thousanders" and to more than fifty peaks above 7000 meters. Gilgit and Skardu are the two main hubs for all expeditions to those mountains. The region is home to some of the world's highest mountain ranges—the main ranges are the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. The Pamir mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) and Nanga Parbat, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.

Three of the world's longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in the Northern Areas—the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier. There are, in addition, several high-altitude lakes in the Northern Areas:

  • Sheotsar Tso Lake in Byarsa Thang/Deosai Plains - Baltistan
  • Satpar Tso Lake in Skardu - Baltistan
  • Katzura Tso Lake in Skardu - Baltistan
  • Zharba Tso Lake in Shigar - Baltistan
  • Phoroq Tso Lake in Skardu - Baltistan
  • Bara Tso Lake in Gangche - Baltistan
  • Byarsa Tso Lake in Gultari - Baltistan
  • Borith Lake in upper Hunza - Gilgit
  • Rama Lake near Astore - Gilgit
  • Rush Lake near Nagar - Gilgit
  • Kromber Lake In Kromber Pass - Gilgit

The Deosai Plains, called Byarsa in Baltistan, are located above the tree line, and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world at 4,115 meters (14,500 feet). The plateau lies south of Skardu and west of Ladakh. The area was declared to be a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover an area of almost 5,000 square kilometres. For over half the year (between September and May), Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from rest of Baltistan. The villages of Byarsa/Deosai are connected with the Kargil district of Ladakh through an all-weather road, but due to the closure of the border with the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the people of Byarsa and Gultari are stranded for the winter months and are, therefore, not able to take advantage of the economic resources of Ladakh during that time.

Climate

The climate of the Northern Areas varies from region to region, surrounding mountain ranges creates sharp variations in weather. The eastern part has a moist zone of western Himalayas but going toward Karakoram and Hindu kush the climare dries considerably.[7]

There are towns like Gilgit and Chilas that are very hot during the day in summer, yet cold at night, and valleys like Astore, Khaplu, Yasin, Hunza, and Nagar where the temperatures are cold even in summer.

Sports

Polo is the favourite game of the people of Gilgit, Chilas, Astore, Hunza, and the surrounding areas. People are very fond of that game. Every year, a great number of tourists come to enjoy polo in the Northern Areas. Other games such as cricket, gulli danda, kabadi, and volleyball are also played there.

Rock art and petroglyphs

near Chilas]]

There are more than 20,000 pieces of rock art and petroglyphs all along the Karakoram Highway in the Northern Areas, concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by various invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The earliest date back to between 5000 and 1000 BCE, showing single animals, triangular men and hunting scenes in which the animals are larger than the hunters. These carvings were pecked into the rock with stone tools and are covered with a thick patina that proves their age. The archaeologist Karl Jettmar has pieced together the history of the area from various inscriptions and recorded his findings in Rock Carvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan[8] and the later released Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads - Rock Carvings Along the Karakoram Highway[9].

Transport

Prior to 1978, the Northern Areas was cut off from Pakistan due to the harsh terrain and the lack of accessible roads. All of the roads to the south opened towards the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AKJ) and to the southeast towards the present-day Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir. During the summer, people could walk across the mountain passes to travel to Rawalpindi. The fastest way to travel, however, 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 Karakoram Highway (KKH) connects Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu, which are the two major hubs for mountaineering expeditions in the Northern Areas. The journey from Islamabad to Gilgit takes approximately 20 to 24 hours. Landslides on the Karakoram Highway are very common. The KKH connects Gilgit to Taxkorgan and Kaxgar in China via Sust (the customs and health inspection post on the Northern Areas side) and the Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved international border crossing in the world at 4,693 metres (15,397 feet).

NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corporation) offers bus and jeep transport service to the two hubs and several other popular destinations, lakes, and glaciers in the area. ]] In March 2006, the respective governments announced that, commencing on June 1, 2006, a thrice-weekly bus service would begin across the boundary from Gilgit, Northern Areas, to Kashgar, China, and road widening work would begin on 600 kilometres 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. [10]

Pakistan International Airlines used to fly a Fokker F27 aircraft daily between Gilgit Airport and Islamabad International Airport. The flying time was approximately 50 minutes, and the flight was one of the most scenic flights in the world, as its route passes over the mountain Nanga Parbat, the peak of which was higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. PIA also offers regular flights of Boeing 737 between Skardu and Islamabad. However, the Fokker F27 aircraft was retired after a crash at Multan in 2006. Currently, flights are being operated by PIA to Gilgit on the brand-new ATR42-500 aircraft, which was purchased in 2006. With the new plane, the cancellation of flights is much less than it was the Fokker aircraft. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and, in winter, flights are often delayed by several days.

Demographics

The population consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups, due in part to the many isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. Urdu is the lingua franca of the region, understood by most male inhabitants. The Shina language (with several dialects) is the language of 40% of the population, spoken mainly in Gilgit, throughout Diamer, and in some parts of Ghizer. The Balti language, a sub-dialect of Ladakhi and part of Tibetan language group, is spoken by the entire population of Baltistan. Minor languages spoken in the region include Wakhi, spoken in upper Hunza, and in some villages in Ghizer, while Khowar is the major language of Ghizer. Burushaski is an isolated language spoken in Hunza, Nagar, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), in some parts of Gilgit and in some villages of Punyal. Another interesting language is Domaaki, spoken by the musician clans in the region. A small minority of people also speaks Pashto. People who live in the Northern Areas, despite that region's being referred to as part of Kashmir, do not speak Kashmiri or any of its dialects.

At the last census (1998), the population of the Northern Areas was 870,347. [11] Approximately 14% of the population was urban.[12]

National honours

The Northern Light Infantry is the army unit that was believed to have assisted and possibly participated in the Kargil War. The Herald, a Pakistani newspaper, stated that more than 500 soldiers were killed and buried in the Northern Areas[13]. Lalak Jan, a soldier from Yasin, Northern Areas, was awarded Pakistan's most prestigious medal, the Nishan-e-Haider, for his courageous actions during the Kargil conflict.

References

Further reading

  • Pakistan Trekking Guide, by Isobel and Ben Shaw, 1993.
  • Raman, Anita D (February 2004). "Of Rivers and Human Rights: The Northern Areas, Pakistan's Forgotten Colony in Jammu and Kashmir". International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 11: 187–228. doi:10.1163/1571811041631272. 

See also

External links

Pakistan portal
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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Gilgit-Baltistan article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : Pakistan : Gilgit-Baltistan
Rakaposhi
Rakaposhi

Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as the Federally Administered Northern Areas or FANA) is the northernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. According to Pakistan's constitution, Gilgit-Baltistan is an autonomous region separate from Pakistan itself, and its inhabitants have never had any representation in Pakistan's parliament. Gilgit-Baltistan is home to some of the world's highest mountains, including five of the eight-thousanders. The main focus of attention for many travelers is the world's three highest mountain ranges--the Karakoram, the Himalaya, and the Hindu Kush, with five peaks over 8,000 meters and many peaks over 7,000 meters, and having the largest glaciers in the world (other than those in the polar region). Wild rivers and unique landscapes make this area a "mountain paradise" for mountaineers, trekkers, and tourists.

Background

The administrative center of Gilgit was an important city on the Silk Road, through which Buddhism was spread from India to the rest of Asia. A large number of Buddhist Sanskrit texts, including the long version of the Heart Sutra have been unearthed in Gilgit. The Dards and Cizinas also appear in many of the old Pauranic lists of peoples, with the former finding mention in Ptolemy's accounts of the region. Two famous travellers, Faxian and Hsuan Tsang, are known to have traversed Gilgit as per their accounts. Gilgit was ruled for centuries by the local Trakane Dynasty, which came to an end in about 1810. The area descended into internecine turmoil before being occupied by the Sikhs in 1842. It was ceded to Jammu in 1846. Gilgit's inhabitants drove their new rulers out in an uprising in 1852. The Khushwakhte Dynasty of Yasin and Gulapure led the people of Gilgit to drive out the Dogra rulers. After Yasin was conquered by the Katur Dynasty of Chitral, the power of the Khushwakhte was crushed. The rule of Jammu was restored in 1860. Gilgit came under British rule in 1889, when it was unified with neighboring Hunza and Nagar in the Gilgit Agency. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the region was briefly handed back to the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequently, it came under Pakistani control. To this day, Gilgit-Baltistan remains part of the Kashmir dispute and is claimed by India to be a Pakistani-occupied part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Regions

Gilgit-Baltistan is divided into two divisions--the Baltistan Division and the Gilgit Division--which together comprise seven districts.

Baltistan Region

The Baltistan Region consists of two districts:

  • Skardu District – Skardu town is the administrative center of the Skardu District. Askole is the last settlement in the district for all treks to Concordia (the confluence of the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier). Skardu is the district where the Indus River enters the Northern Areas from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Ghanche District – The Ghanche District is the easternmost district of Baltistan. To its east is the Leh District of Ladakh, northeast is Aksai Chin, (China), to the north and northwest is the Skardu District, to the west is the Astore District, and to the south is the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The administrative center of the Ghanche District is Khaplu. The Hushe valleys form the gateway to the great Baltoro Muztagh, the sub-range of the Karakoram.

Gilgit Division

Gilgit Division now consists of five districts:

  • Astore District – The Astore District was recently carved out of the Diamir District. Previously, the Northern Areas was divided into five districts. The administrative center of the Astore District is Astore town and it includes many villages in the Astore valley. The Astore District is bounded by the Diamir District to the west and the Skardu District to the east.
  • Diamir District – The Diamir District is the district where the Karakoram Highway enters the Northern Areas from Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province. Chilas is the administrative center of the Diamir District. The Diamir District is bounded by the Astore District to the east, Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province to the south and southwest, the Ghizar District to the north and northwest, and the Gilgit District to the north and northeast.
  • Ghizar District – The Ghizar District is the westernmost district of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is bound by Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province on three sides (north, west, and south), by the Diamir District to the south and southeast, and by the Gilgit District to the east. A small strip of Ghizar District (roughly 35 x 12 km) is sandwiched between the North-West Frontier Province and the Wakhan Corridor of (Afghanistan). Gakuch is the administrative center of the Ghizar District.

Sherqilla is most famous town being capital of Rajas of Punial and Ishkomin. It is still a tourist spot with many attractions like trout fishing, treking natural swimming pools. Wazirs of sherqilla and Raja palace are still inscribe their period of splendour.

  • Gilgit District – The Gilgit District is bounded by the Wakhan Corridor of (Afghanistan) to the north, the Xinjiang autonomous region of (China) to the north and northeast, and the Skardu District to the south and southeast. Gilgit town is the administrative center of the Gilgit District. Gilgit is one of the two major hubs for all mountaineering expeditions to the peaks of the Karakoram and the Himalayas.
  • Hunza-Nagar District – The Hunza-Nagar District is a newly formed district which was previously part of the Gilgit District. The district encompasses the Hunza and Nagar valleys. The major town is Karimabad (actually a grouping of five to six smaller villages), surrounded on all sides by glorious mountain peaks, foremost amongst which is Rakaposhi. The Nagar Valley and the Hoper Glacier are situated a dizzying 40-minute drive from Karimabad, nestled below Golden Peak. Hunza is approximately 100 km from Gilgit, and is the last major town along the Karakoram Highway before entering China.
  • Karimabad - supposedly the setting for James Hilton's Shangri-La, and the valley lives up to that reputation.
  • Skardu - Home to some of the World's highest mountain peaks, glaciers, forts, museums and resorts.
  • Fairy meadows is a point where world's three famous mountain ranges meet - the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Hindukush
  • K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) - world's second-highest mountain peak, Also visit K2 Museum located in the Skardu near K2 Motel.
  • Shangrila Resort [1] in Skardu Valley is a place of bliss, delight and peace
  • Shigar Fort [2]
  • Rock carvings Dating back to 8th century AD, a huge Buddha figure surrounded by small Buddhisatvas is carved on a rock, three kilometres from Skardu across Sadpara Nullah on Skardu-Sadpara Road. Pre-historic men and animal figures are carved on rocks along Kachura Lake. Some rock carvings and diagram of a monastery near Perkuta (Mehdi Abad) Nalah are also found.
  • Punial Sher Qila is the main village of the picturesque Punial valley.
  • Singal This spot in the Punial valley offers ideal trout fishing opportunities.
  • Rama A lake in this region offers an awe-inspiring view of the eastern side of Nanga Parbat, 8126 meters high. For the adventure-loving tourist, hiker, angler, art-lover, mountaineer or polo enthusiast, there are few places in the world that could compare with Gilgit.
  • Deosai National Park and Khunjerab National Park

Talk

Urdu is the national language of Pakistan spoken throughout Pakistan and Gilgit-Baltistan as lingua franca. The Local languages are Shina, Balti, Khowar, Wakhi and Burushaski, As elsewhere in Pakistan, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.

Get in

By plane

Arrive in Islamabad. Pakistan International Airlines offers daily flights between Gilgit and Islamabad. The flying time is approximately 50 minutes, and the flight is one of the most scenic flights in the world, as its route passes over Nanga Parbat, and the peak of the mountain is higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude.

PIA also offers regular flights on Being 737s between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and, in winters, flights are often delayed by several days.

By road

The Karakoram Highway, once a minor Silk Road route, connects Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu, which are the two major hubs for mountaineering expeditions in the Northern Areas. The journey from Islamabad to Gilgit takes approximately 20-24 hours. Landslides on the Karakoram Highway are not uncommon, but bulldozers usually clear the road in a short time. The KKH connects Gilgit to Taxkorgan and Kaxgar in Xinjiang, China, via Sust (the customs and health inspection post on the Pakistan side of the border) and the Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved international border crossing in the world at 4,693 metres (15,397 feet).

Get around

By Bus

NATCO (the Northern Areas Transport Corporation) offers bus and jeep transport service to the two hubs and to several other popular destinations, lakes, and glaciers in the area.

Rakaposhi
Rakaposhi

Eighteen of the fifty highest peaks in the world are located in the Gilgit-Baltistan.

  1. K2, 2nd-highest in the world at 8,611 m.
  2. Nanga Parbat, 9th-highest in the world at 8,125 m
  3. Gasherbrum I, 11th-highest in the world at 8,080 m.
  4. Broad Peak, 12th-highest in the world at 8,047 m.
  5. Gasherbrum II, 13th-highest in the world at 8,035 m
  6. Gasherbrum III, 15th-highest in the world at 7,946 m.
  7. Gasherbrum VI, 17th-highest in the world at 7,932 m.
  8. Distaghil Sar, 19th-highest in the world at 7,884 m.
  9. Khunyang Chhish,21st-highest in the world at 7823 m.
  10. Masherbrum ,22nd-highest in the world at 7,821 m.
  11. Batura Sar, 25th-highest in the world at 7,795 m.
  12. Kanjut Sar ,26th-highest in the world at 7,788 m.
  13. Rakaposhi, 27th-highest in the world at 7,760m.
  14. Saltoro Kangri 31st-highest in the world at 7,742 m.
  15. Chogolisa 36th-highest in the world at 7,498 m.
  16. Shispare 38th-highest in the world at 7,611 m.
  17. Trivora 39th-highest in the world at 7,577 m.
  18. Skyang Kangri 44th-highest in the world at 7,545 m.

Glaciers

Three of the world's seven longest glaciers outside the polar regions are also in Gilgit-Baltistan: the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier.

The Siachin Glacier is 75 km. The Hispar (53 km) joins the Biafo at the Hispar La (5154.16 meters (16,910 ft) to form an ice corridor 116.87 km (72 mi) long. The Batura, too, is 58 km in length. The most outstanding of these rivers of ice is the 62 km Baltoro. This large glacier, fed by some 30 tributaries, has a surface area of 1291.39 sq km.

Lakes

There are several high-altitude lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan.

  • Sheosar Lake in Deosai Plains
  • Satpara Lake in Skardu
  • Katchura Lake in Skardu
  • Borith Lake in upper Hunza
  • Rama Lake near Astore
  • Rush Lake near Nagar
  • Kromber Lake in Kromber Pass
  • Karakoram Treks & Tours [3]
  • Hindukush Trails [4]
  • Jasmine tours [6]
  • Concordia Expeditions [7]
  • Summit Karakoram [8]
  • Baltistan tours [9]
  • Karakoram Air Safari is the most scenic air journey starting from Islamabad by Pakistan International Airlines.
  • Mountaineering, Trekking and Hiking: The area is ideal for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Permission for mountaineering and trekking for restricted zone is issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan, Pakistan Sports Complex, Kashmir Highway, Aabpara, Islamabad (Telephone: 92-51-9203509). Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department at Gilgit and Skardu.
  • Fishing: at Satpara Lake (8km) and Kachura Lake 932km) from Skardu abound in trout. Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department.
  • Flora & Fauna: Roses, lilies, pansies, willow, pine and fir trees are found in abundance. Apples, apricots, peaches, plums mulberry, walnuts and grapes are available from June to October and almonds from October to March.
  • Wildlife: Baltistan boasts of wildlife like Markhors, ibexes, snow leopards and birds, namely Chakors, partridges and ducks. Most of the animals and birds are protected but limited shooting is allowed. Hunting permits are issued by the local administration.
  • Biking
  • Eco tours at different National parks
  • Skiing
  • Polo Attend Shandur Polo festival

Eat

Most of the top end restaurants are located in Hotels.

  • Pagoda Restaurant, offers a sumptuous Chinese cuisine. The Pagoda is on an island amidst the Honeymoon Lake linked to the Shangrila Resort by a short bridge.
  • The Lake View Restaurant gives a panoramic view of the Shangrila Resort and offers Pakistani and Continental cuisine.
  • Tandoori Village offers a taste of ancient old recipes, Chicken Tikka, Seekh Kababs, Mutton Tikkas, Grilled Fish with home made tandoori rooti. Enjoy the out door feast under the stars in a traditional atmosphere.
  • Cafe DC-3 This code name of orginal DC-3 Aircraft was Alph Alpha Foxtrot (AAF) . This unique cafe is one of its kind. Situated in an airplane, which crash landed on the riverbed and was brought to the present site in the 50's. It offers a variety of snacks and cabin crew hospitality

Drink

Bars are located in most of the top end hotels.

Avoid drinking tap water. Locals usually drinks water coming from a stream, but that can be unsafe for some people due to its minerals which may not suite you. So only drink bottled water, which is easily available all over.

Stay safe

Security wise, Gilgit-Baltistan is considered to be one of the safest regions under Pakistani control, but some parts of it are off-limits to tourists, especially the buffer zone along the "Line of Control" that divides the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. District Head quarter hospitals are present in Gilgit, Skardu, Khaplu (Ghache District), Chilas (Diamer), Ghazin (Gahkuch).

Contact

Mobile services are available in the area.

  • Chief Secretary, Gilgit-Baltistan Tel: (92-0572) 2501
  • Deputy Commissioner Tel: (92-0572) 2521
  • I.G. Police Tel: (92-0572) 2403
  • A.I.G. Tel: (92-0572) 2366
  • S.S.P. Tel: (92-0572) 2502
  • Airport Police Station el: (92-0572) 3266
  • Special Branch Police el: (92-0572) 3356
  • Intelligence Bureau Police Tel: (92-0572)2496
  • PIA Booking Tel: (92-0572) 3390
  • PIA Tower Tel: (92-0572) 3947
  • Airport Manager Tel: (92-0572) 2333

Get out

By road

To China: Thrice-weekly bus service was scheduled to begin crossing the border from Gilgit, to Kashgar, China, and road widening work was scheduled for 600 kilometres of the Karakoram Highway. There were also plans for one daily bus in each direction between Sust and Taxkorgan in the border areas of the two countries.

To Islamabad: Via the Karakoram Highway, popularly known as the Silk Road.

By plane

Pakistan International Airlines offers daily flights between Gilgit Airport and Islamabad International Airport. The flying time is approximately 50 minutes, and the flight is one of the most scenic flights in the world, as its route passes over Nanga Parbat, with the peak of the mountain being higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. PIA also offers regular flights on Boeing 737s between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and in winters, flights are often delayed by several days.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

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Proper noun

Northern Areas

  1. an administrative region of Pakistan whose capital is Gilgit, home to the Karakoram range that includes more than sixty peaks above 7000 m (22,960 ft), including K2, the second highest peak of the world at 8,611 m (28,244 ft).

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