Gilgit-Baltistan

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Gilgit-Baltistan
گلگت بلتستان
Administrative Territory of Pakistan[1]
Clockwise from top: K2, Biafo Glacier, Attabad Lake Hunza, Skardu machulu baltistan , Deosai National Park
Flag of Gilgit-Baltistan
Flag
Official seal of Gilgit-Baltistan
Seal
Gilgit-Baltistan (minus the Siachen Glacier area) is shown in red. Rest of Pakistan is shown in white. The Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is shown by hatching.
Gilgit-Baltistan (minus the Siachen Glacier area) is shown in red. Rest of Pakistan is shown in white. The Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is shown by hatching.
Coordinates: 35°21′N 75°54′E / 35.35°N 75.9°E / 35.35; 75.9Coordinates: 35°21′N 75°54′E / 35.35°N 75.9°E / 35.35; 75.9
Country  Pakistan
Political entity  Gilgit-Baltistan
Established 1 July 1970
Capital Gilgit
Largest city Skardu[2]
Government
 • Type Self-governing territory of Pakistan
 • Body Legislative assembly
 • Governor [unreliable source?]Chaudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir[3]
 • Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman[4]
Area
 • Total 72,971 km2 (28,174 sq mi)
Population (2008; est.)
 • Total 1,800,000
 • Density 25/km2 (64/sq mi)
Time zone PKT (UTC+5)
ISO 3166 code PK-GB
Main languages
Assembly seats 33[5]
Districts 10
Towns 9
Website Gilgit-Baltistan Government

Gilgit-Baltistan (Urdu/Shina/Burushaski: گلگت بلتستان, Balti: གིལྒིཏ་བལྟིསྟན), formerly known as the Northern Areas of Pakistan[6] is the northernmost administrative territory of Pakistan.[7] It borders Azad Kashmir to the south, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, Xinjiang, China, to the east and northeast and Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. The region, together with Azad Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir, is disputed between India and Pakistan.[7][8]

Gilgit-Baltistan is an autonomous[9] self-governing region that was established as a single administrative unit in 1970, formed by the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan region and the former princely states of Hunza and Nagar. It covers an area of 72,971 km² (28,174 sq mi) and is highly mountainous.[10] It has an estimated population approaching 2,000,000.[11] Its capital city is Gilgit (population 216,760).

History[edit]

Further information: History of Kashmir

Early History[edit]

Between 399 and 414: The Chinese Buddhist Pilgrim Faxian (Fa-hsien) visited Gilgit Baltistan.[12] while in 6th century The King Somana ruled in Palola (greater Gilgit-Chilas). Between 627 and 645: The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang) travelled through this region. From 644 to 655, 671: Navasurendrādityanandi was King of Palola (Gilgit). In 706/707, Jayamaṅgalavikramādityanandi became the King of Palola. It is said that in the year 717 A delegation of a ruler of great Palola, named Su-fu-she-li-ji-li-ni according to the transcription of Chinese characters, reached the Chinese Imperial court. 719: Su-fu-she-li-ji-li-ni, King of Palola, sent a second delegation to the Chinese Imperial court.[13] At least in 719/720 Ladakh (Mard) was part of the Tibetan Empire. About 720 Buddhism is practiced in Baltistan and Sanskrit was the written language. Mentioning of a kunjāna (~_kuljāna) of King, who is Lord of the area of Saṃbhūtānnā and of a person called Gaṇḍi, son of a King, in a Brahmi inscription of Shigar.[citation needed] Mentioning of the monastery of Navasaṃghārāma and the monk Saṃgharakṣita in a Brahmi inscription from Kachura (Skardu-Valley). It is unknown if Baltistan temporarily belonged at that time to Palola.720: Delegation of Sou-lin-t'o i che (= Surendrāditya), King of Palola, to the Chinese imperial court. The Emperor gives the ruler of Cashmere "Tchen-fo-lo-pi-li (Chandrāpīḍa)" the title of "King of Cashmere".At least 721/722: Baltistan is part of the Tibetan Empire.[14] 721/722: The conquest of Little Palola or Bru-zha (Yasin) by the Tibetan army fails. Mo-ching-mang (Mo-kin-mang) is King of Little Palola. With 723 727/28: The Korean Buddhist pilgrim Hyecho (Huichao) reached Palola. In 737 / 738 Tibetan troops under the leadership of Minister sKyes-bzang ldong-tsab conquer Little Palola. 740/41: The Tibetan Princess Khri-ma-lod was sent as a bride of Su-shih-li-chi, the ruler (rje) of Little Palola. 747: Reconquest of Little Palola by a Chinese army under the leadership of the ethnic-Korean commander Gao Xianzhi (Kao Hsien-chih).[15] 753: Conquest of Great Palola by a Chinese army under the military Governor Feng Changqing until 755 due to the An Lushan rebellion the Chinese lost its supremacy in Central Asia and in the regions around Gilgit baltitan.[16] Approx. from the year 720 up to the 15th century Buddhism was still common in Gilgit Baltistan, while the Tibetan script replaced Sanskrit as the written language .

Map of Tibetan Empire citing the areas of Gilgit Baltistan as part of its kingdom in 780-790 Ce.

Medieval History[edit]

Gilgit-Baltistan was ruled by many local rulers amongst them Maopons of skardu and Rajas of Hunza were famous. The Persian geographical description of the "Regions of the world" (Ḥudūd al-'Ālam) edited by V. Minorksy the countries Bolor (Bulūr, p. 121) and "Bolorian Tibet" (B. lūrī, p. 93) are mentioned. According to this description "Bolorian Tibet" borders Bolor. The inhabitants are described as dealers, living in tents and huts of fur. The country should extend to its length and width each 15 day trips. Whether Baltistan can be identified with "Bolorian Tibet" is not researched.The Persian Sufi saint Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (CA. 1314-1385) travels to Kashmir in 14th century and then he visited baltistan it was the begin of Islam in this region while in Gilgit side the credit of introdusing Islamic tenet goes to Shah faqir wali[17] Mir Syed Ali Hamadani was followed by his indirect disciple Muhammad Nūrbakhsh, (the founder of the Nūrbakhshīya sect) which spread later into Baltistan from Iran.[18] Chaqchan Mosque, Amburiq Mosque are the memorial of that time.
The Maqpons of skardu unfied Gilgit baltistan with chitral,ladakh specially in the era of Ali Sher Khan Anchan[19] who had a friendly relation with Mughal court.[20] Anchan reign brought prosperity in art, sport,and variety in architecture He introduce polo in gilgit region and in chitral he sent group of musician in Delhi to learn Indian music and due relation with Mughals The Mughal architecture influenced Architecture of the region as well.[21]
After Anchan in his succesors Abdal Khan had great influence though In the popular literature of Baltistan he is still alive as dark figure by the nickname "Mizos" "man-eater".The last raja of Maqpons was Ahmed Shah who ruled 1811-1840 in entire baltistan.The areas of Gilgit, Chitral, and Hunza get independence of Maqpons many year before.

Modern History[edit]

In November 1839: Beginning of the campaign of Zorawar Singh against Baltistan.[22] 1839/1840: Conquest of Skardu and capture of Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shah was forced to accompany Zorawar Singh on his raid into Western Tibet. Appointment of Baghwan Singh as administrator (Thanadar) in Skardu. 1841: Successful uprising against the Dogras in Baltistan led by Ali Khan of Rondu, Haidar Khan of Shigar, and Daulat Ali Khan from Khaplu. Capture of the Dogra commander Baghwan Singh in Skardu.[23] 1842: The second conquest of Baltistan by the Dogra Commander Wasir Lakhpat with the active support of Ali Sher Khan (III) from lKartaksho. Bloody capture of the fortress of Kharphocho. Haidar Khan from Shigar, one of the leaders of the uprising against the Dogra,[24] was imprisoned and died in captivity. Gosaun was appointed as administrator (Thanadar) for Baltistan and til 1860, the entire region of Gilgit-Baltistan was conquered by the Sikhs and the Dogras. It was the Dogras who incorporated Gilgit-Baltistan into Kashmir even though the people of the region are more closely related to those of Ladakh and Chitral.[25][26] After the defeat of the Sikhs in the First Anglo-Sikh War, it became a part of the princely state with the name Jammu and Kashmir in 1846 under the rule of the Dogras who ruled the more than a century. It remained so till a rebellion, organized by a mutineered Major Brown of the Gilgit Scouts overthrew Ghansara Singh, the Governor administering the region on behalf of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir on 1 November 1947, and temporarily installed an unrecognized state of their own. Raja Shah Rais Khan became the President while Mirza Hassan Khan the Commander-in-Chief of the Gilgit scouts. The region had run its own government for 16 days but later on the approval of local residents, unconditionally offered Pakistan to take over the administration.[27][28] Also After Pakistan's independence, Jammu and Kashmir initially remained an independent state. Later On 22 October 1947, Pakistani armed forces crossed the border in Jammu and Kashmir with the claim that they needed to suppress a rebellion on the southeast of the kingdom.[29][30] Local tribal militias and the Pakistani armed forces moved to take Srinagar but on reaching Uri they encountered defensive forces. Hari Singh made a plea to India for assistance and signed the Instrument of Accession. The British government also took part in stopping the Pakistani forces from advancing.[31] On 20 January 1948, the UN passed a resolution which called for the withdrawal of both countries forces from Jammu and Kashmir,[32] however a part of it (Known as Azad Kashmir) has remained under the control of Pakistan since then.[33] In 1970 the two part territory was merged into a single administrative unit, and given the name "Northern Areas".[7] This was actually first used by the United Nations to refer to the northern areas of Kashmir.[citation needed] The Shaksgam tract was ceded by Pakistan to China following the signing of the Sino-Pakistani Frontier Agreement in 1963.[34][35]

The last Maqpon Raja Ahmed Shah (died in prison in Srinagar by Dogra rulers. around 1845)

Before the demise of Shribadat, a group of Shin people migrated from Gilgit Dardistan and settled in the Dras and Kharmang areas. The descendants of those Dardic people can be still found today, and is believed that they have maintained their Dardic culture and Shina language up to the present time.

Government[edit]

The territory of present-day Gilgit-Baltistan became a separate administrative unit in 1970 under the name "Northern Areas". It was formed by the amalgamation of the former Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the hill states of Hunza and Nagar. It presently consists of nine districts, has a population approaching one million, an area of approximately 28,000 square miles (73,000 km2), and shares borders with Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and India. In 1993, an attempt was made by the High Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to annex Gilgit-Baltistan but was quashed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan after protests by the locals of Gilgit-Baltistan, who feared domination by the Kashmiris.[36]

Government of Pakistan abolished State Subject Rule in Gilgit-Baltistan in 1974, which resulted in demographic changes in the territory.[37][38] While administratively controlled by Pakistan since the First Kashmir War, Gilgit-Baltistan has never been formally integrated into the Pakistani state and does not participate in Pakistan's constitutional political affairs.[39][40] On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.[41] The order granted self-rule to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, by creating, among other things, an elected Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and Gilgit-Baltistan Council. Gilgit-Baltistan thus gained a de facto province-like status without constitutionally becoming part of Pakistan.[9][39] Officially, Pakistan has rejected Gilgit-Baltistani calls for integration with Pakistan on the grounds that it would prejudice its international obligations with regard to the Kashmir conflict.[36] Some Kashmiri nationalist groups, such as the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, claim Gilgit-Baltistan as part of a future independent state to match what existed in 1947.[36] India, on the other hand, maintains that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the Indian controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir.[42]

Map of Gilgit-Baltistan, showing the boundaries of six of the nine present 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. That tehsil appears as the southernmost division of the area shown above in light blue. Aliabad, the administrative center of the new Hunza-Nagar District, is not yet shown on this map. Note: An up-to-date map showing the boundaries of all nine of the present districts is sorely needed.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Gilgit-Baltistan is administratively divided into two divisions which, in turn, are divided into ten districts, consisting of the four Baltistan districts of Skardu, Shigar, Kharmang, and Ghanche, and the six Gilgit districts of Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Astore, Hunza and Nagar .[43] The principal administrative centers are the towns of Gilgit and Skardu.

Division District Area (km²) Capital Population (1998) Divisional Capital
Baltistan Ghanche 9,400 Khaplu 90,000 Skardu
Shigar NA Shigar NA
Kharmang NA Kharmang NA
Skardu 8,000 Skardu 219,000*
Gilgit Gilgit 16,300 Gilgit 148,000 Gilgit
Diamer 10,936 Chilas 135,000
Ghizer 9,635 Gahkuch 121,000
Astore 8,657 Eidghah 72,000
Hunza 20,057 - -
Nagar 20,057 - -
Total 72,496 Gilgit 884,000

(*) Combined population of Skardu, Shigar and Kharmang Districts. Shigar and Kharmang Districts were carved out of Skardu District after 1998, after which no official census data are available. The overall annual population growth rate in Gilgit-Baltistan is 2.61%, and the projected population is about 1.3 million (2013).[44]

Geography and climate[edit]

K2 as seen from Concordia
Satpara Lake, Skardu, in 2002

Gilgit-Baltistan borders Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province to the west, a small portion of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the northeast, the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast, and the Pakistani-administered state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south.[45]

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the "eight-thousanders" and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). 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.[46] 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, are located above the tree line and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world at 4,115 metres (14,500 feet) after Tibet. The plateau lies east of Astore, south of Skardu and west of Ladakh. The area was declared as a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover an area of almost 5,000 square kilometres (1,900 sq mi). For over half the year (between September and May), Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from rest of Astore and Baltistan in winters. The village of Deosai lies close to Chilum chokki and is connected with the Kargil district of Ladakh through an all-weather road.

Rock art and petroglyphs[edit]

There are more than 50,000 pieces of rock art (petroglyphs) and inscriptions all along the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan, concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by 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 ethnologist Karl Jettmar has pieced together the history of the area from inscriptions and recorded his findings in Rock Carvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan[47] and the later-released Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads — Rock Carvings Along the Karakoram Highway.[48] Many of these carvings and inscriptions will be inundated and/or destroyed when the planned Basha-Diamir dam is built and the Karakoram Highway is widened.

Climate[edit]

The climate of Gilgit-Baltistan varies from region to region, surrounding mountain ranges creates sharp variations in weather. The eastern part has the moist zone of the western Himalayas, but going toward Karakoram and Hindu Kush, the climate dries considerably.[49]

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.

Economy and resources[edit]

Montage of Gilgit-Baltistan

The economy of the region is primarily based on a traditional route of trade through the historic Silk Road. The China Trade Organization was the leading economic forum through which most of barter trade activity made a phenomenal change in the general economic outlook of the area, which, being the remotest region under Pakistani control, was neglected for over a quarter of a century. That forum led the people of the area to actively invest and learn modern trade know-how from its Chinese neighbor Xinjiang. The participation of all ethnic groups and the active force behind this activity, the legendary economist of the area Ashraf Khan, brought a great change in the region. Later, the establishment of a chamber of commerce and the Sust dry port (in Gojal Hunza) are milestones. The rest of the economy is shouldered by mainly agriculture and tourism. Agricultural products are wheat, corn (maize), barley, and fruits. Tourism is mostly in trekking and mountaineering, and this industry is growing in importance.[50][51]

In early September 2009, Pakistan signed an agreement with the People's Republic of China for a major energy project in Gilgit-Baltistan which includes the construction of a 7,000-megawatt dam at Bunji in the Astore District.[52] Exiled activists of the region, Mumtaz Khan and Senge Hasnan Sering have since asked India to take a more proactive stance and save the region from exploitation.[53]

Sports[edit]

Polo is the favourite game of the people of Gilgit, Skardu, Ghanche, Chilas, Astore, Hunza, Nagar, and the surrounding areas.[citation needed] Every year, many tourists visit to enjoy polo in Gilgit-Baltistan. "Polo" is a Persian word which means "ball".

Other games such as cricket, tuksori of Nagar, gulli danda, kabbadi, and volleyball are also played.[54]


Dance of Swati Guests with traditional music at baltit fort 2014

Transport[edit]

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

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 1 June 2006, a thrice-weekly bus service would begin across the boundary from Gilgit to Kashgar and road-widening work would begin on 600 kilometres (370 mi) 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.[55]

Pakistan International Airlines used to fly a Fokker F27 Friendship daily between Gilgit Airport and Benazir Bhutto International Airport. The flying time was approximately 50 minutes, and the flight was one of the most scenic in the world, as its route passed over Nanga Parbat, a mountain whose peak is higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. However, the Fokker F27 was retired after a crash at Multan in 2006. Currently, flights are being operated by PIA to Gilgit on the brand-new ATR 42-500, which was purchased in 2006. With the new plane, the cancellation of flights is much less frequent. Pakistan International Airlines also offers regular flights of a Boeing 737 between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights are subject to weather clearance; in winter, flights are often delayed by several days.

A railway through the region has been proposed; see Khunjerab Railway for details.

Demographics[edit]

At the last census (1998), the population of Gilgit-Baltistan was 870,347.[44] Approximately 14% of the population was urban.[56] The estimated population Gilgit-Baltistan in 2013 is over 2 million. The population of Gilgit-Baltistan consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious sects, due in part to the many isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. The ethnic groups include Shins, Yashkuns, Kashmiris, Kashgaris,Pamiris, Pathans, and Kohistanis.[57] A significant number of people from Gilgit-Baltistan are resident in other parts of Pakistan mainly in Punjab and Karachi. The literacy rate of Gilgit-Baltistan is approximately 72%.

Languages[edit]

According to the 1998 Population Census of Pakistan following are the Major Languages of the Province.

Urdu is the lingua franca of the region, understood by most inhabitants

  • Balti 33% (Spoken in Sakardu & Ganche districts)
  • Shina 33% (Spoken in Gilgit, Diamer & Astore districts)
  • Khowar 12% (Spoken in Ghizar district)
  • Wakhi 3% (Spoken in HunzaNagar district)

The Balti dialect, a sub-dialect of Ladakhi and part of the Tibetan language group, is spoken by the entire population of Baltistan. The Shina language (with several dialects such as Asturjaa, Kharuchaa, and Chilasi) is spoken by majority in Gilgit, in Astore, throughout Diamir, and in some parts of Ghizer, Hunza-Nagar and in the Baltistan region.[58] Burushaski is the second largest language spoken in Gilgit including Hunza, Nagar, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), in some parts of Gilgit, and in some villages of Punial. Wakhi is spoken in upper Hunza, and in some villages in Ghizer, while Khowar is the principal language of Ghizer district. Another interesting language is Domaaki, spoken by musician clans in the region while other Pakistani languages such as Punjabi Pashto and Kashmiri are spoken by 7% population.[59]

Religion[edit]

The population of Gilgit-Baltistan is Muslim. In terms of percentage, PILDAT reports, "Some sources put overall demographics as [Twelvers] 41, sunni (sic) 32, Ismaili 17 and Noorbakhshis 10."[60][61]

Culture[edit]

Provincial symbols of Gilgit-Baltistan (unofficial)
Provincial animal Yak YakRace.jpg
Provincial bird Shaheen falcon Vándorsólyom.JPG
Provincial tree Quercus ilex Quercus ilex.002 - Monfrague.JPG
Provincial flower Aquilegia pubiflora (common) Aquilegia alpina1JUSA.jpg

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to a number of diversified cultures, ethnic groups, languages and various backgrounds. It is home to people belonging to all regions of Gilgit-Baltistan as well as from other cities of Pakistan and aboard.[62] Cultural events include:[62]

  • Navroz
  • Jashn-e-Baharan
  • Shandoor Polo Festival
  • Babusar Polo Festival
  • Harvest Time Festival.

These festivals are opportunities for local people and tourists to get together and share their skills.

Moreover, Gilgit-Baltistan is also famous for its dance. Following are the kinds of dances famous in tourists and local people of Gilgit-Baltistan:[62]

  • Old Man Dance: In this dance more than one person wears old-style dresses.
  • Cow Boy Dance (Payaloo): In this dance a person wears old style dress, long leather shoes and a stick in hand.
  • Sword Dance: In this unique dance the participants show taking one sword in right and shield in left. One to six participants as pair can dance.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Pakistan Trekking Guide, by Isobel and Ben Shaw, 1993.
  • Wang, S. (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. doi:10.1163/1571811041631272.  edit

External links[edit]