Reaching A Boiling Point? Gilgit-Baltistan under CPEC and the Future of US-Pakistan Relations
6 September 2018, 10:30 - 11:45AM | Cannon House Office Building 122 | Washington, DC
On 6 September 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) will host a conference at the US House of Representatives to discuss the impact of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on Gilgit-Baltistan and the future of the US-Pakistan relations.
Locked between China and Pakistan, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan helplessly struggles to make its voice be heard. Lacking formal provincial status, they could only watch the recent general elections in Pakistan unfold without casting a vote. Beyond lack of representation, the population of Gilgit-Baltistan has been regularly subjected to violence, persecution, discrimination and state-supported repression. Its status as a disputed territory (as declared by the United Nations Security Council in 1948) does not stop Pakistan and China from continuing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as part of the One Belt One Road development strategy.
The CPEC plans to penetrate through Gilgit-Baltistan in order to establish an economic transport route in Pakistan by building infrastructures which include pipelines, railways, roads, and ports. The native people of Gilgit-Baltistan have manifested their disapproval of the project, warning that the social, political, economic and environmental consequences would be too detrimental. This contradicts the claims of the two states involved, which hold that the project would be beneficial for Gilgit-Baltistan. As constructions started against the will of the people, so did the silencing and persecution of its active opposition.
The Pakistani government resorts to the vague and broad definition of terrorism, under its anti-terrorism law, to suppress any attempt of resistance to CPEC. Meanwhile, Islamabad's intentions and dedication to combat actual terrorists remain questionable, a fact that has affected US-Pakistani relations. While Beijing is willing to give the billions in military aid to Islamabad that the US has withheld, Pakistan reimains unnacountable for being in breach of the international law.
Against this background, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) will bring together academics, US politicians and government officials at the House of Representatives to discuss the current situation in Gilgit-Baltistan and the deterioration of US - Pakistan relations over the last years.