Pakistan to lease Gilgit-Baltistan to China?

Pakistan is considering a proposal to lease the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region to Beijing for 50 years.

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2012, 13:28 PM IST

Washington: Seeking to fortify its strategic
ties with China amid strains in relations with US, Pakistan is
considering a proposal to lease the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan
region to Beijing for 50 years, an eminent US-based think tank
has claimed, citing local media.

The Pakistani move is aimed at cementing its all-weather
relations with China amid the irreparable rupture in US-Pak
ties over the past year, said Middle East Media Research
Institute in a report released on Friday, which was based on
news reports in this regard in local Urdu newspapers.

The decision to launch the Pakistan-China Strategic
Programme for Gilgit-Baltistan was probably taken during Army
Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani`s visit to China in January
2012, it said.

A report, titled "Pakistan`s Deteriorating Situation,
Strained Relations with America: Deliberation on Leasing
Gilgit Baltistan to China for 50 years`, which was published
in the Urdu daily `Roznama Bang-e-Sahar`, had said: "In the
backdrop of the deteriorating situation in Pakistan and
strained relations with America, deliberations have begun (on
a proposal) to hand over Gilgit-Baltistan to China on a
50-year lease".

"A Chinese think tank has also given the green light for
this move," said the Urdu daily, which was distributed in
Gilgit-Baltistan on December 13, 2011, less than three weeks
after the November 26, 2011 NATO raid on a Pakistani border
post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, according to the US
think tank, which is headed by a former FBI official.

The Urdu daily said the think tanks of China and Pakistan
have begun discussions to hand over Gilgit-Baltistan region to
the control of China on lease.

"In the first stage of this plan, China will formulate a
strategy for development projects and in the name of working
on them will gradually take over the control of this region.
In the next stage, China will take over Gilgit-Baltistan under
its total control for 50 years and deploy its troops there,"
it said.

The Roznama Bang-e-Sahar report acquires importance in
view of the five-day visit of China by Pakistan Army Chief
General Ashfaq Kayani on January 4-8, 2012, the US think tank
said.

During a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen
Jiabao in Beijing, General Kayani had said that development of
China-Pakistan strategic partnership is the "cornerstone of
the two countries` policies".

In his remarks, the Chinese Premier had said that "the
Chinese government and the PLA (People`s Liberation Army)
would continue to strengthen defence cooperation between the
two countries and more frequent military-to-military
exchanges".

Based on news reports published in the local Urdu press,
the Washington-based think tank said that Pakistani and
Chinese militaries are moving in the direction of a joint
military management of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The two militaries will cooperate under a specific plan
designated by Pakistan as the Pak-China Strategic Programme
for Gilgit-Baltistan, it said.

As part of this plan, officials from Pakistan`s Northern
Light Infantry (NLI) and People`s Liberation Army (PLA) of
China would "undergo joint trainings and exchange of
expertise".

According to a Pakistani newspaper, the Pak-China
Strategic Programme for Gilgit-Baltistan will come into force
in June 2012, the think tank said.

PTI