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SOURCE: The Pioneer.

The creation of Ladakh as a Union Territory is a very important step as it has opened a window to Gilgit Baltistan, which is a part of larger Kashmir, which acceded to India when Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession. It is, at present, in the administrative control of Pakistan and it is known as Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK). It is really heartening that India has emphatically asserted its right over Gilgit Baltistan. This is our area and the population residing there are Indian citizens and as a nation it is our bounden duty to regain our territory and look after our citizens.

The geographical area of Gilgit Baltistan is 72,971 sq KM and its population is 12.5 lakh as per the records of 2013. A majority of them speak Balti language and follow Balti culture. There are other minor languages also but the official language is Urdu.

The Pakistani government oppresses Balti culture and the entire population as they follow this culture. The tyranny of Pakistani government is unspeakable. There has been a demand from the people of Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan to create LGB I. e. Ladakh Gilgit Baltistan. Our resolve to regain Gilgit Baltistan will fulfill this long pending demand and save our Balti population from the oppression of Pakistan.

Ahmed Shah Balti is a noted poet of Balti language and his daughter Shireen Fatima is a popular Balti singer. They live in a cluster of five villages known as Tuktuk, situated at the edge of Ladakh, formerly a part of Gilgit Baltistan, but now part of India after 1971 war.

In India Ahmed Shah emerged as a powerful poet of Balti language and his daughter as a popular singer of Balti. Her fan following in Gilgit and Baltistan is immense and they tell her how Pakistani authorities suppress Balti people and their language and culture.

They do not believe that the 9,000 strong population of Balti in Tuktuk has a quality life and freedom of expression and follows their culture.

The Baltis of Gilgit Baltistan envy the Baltis residing in Tuktuk, which is under Indian control.

The people of Gilgit Baltistan i.e. Balti want to come under Indian control for the safety of their life, language and culture. India has the responsibility to protect its citizens and regain her lost territory.

The present Government has decided to do so and inching towards this goal and this has rubbed China the wrong way as it was eying the whole of Gilgit Baltistan, which is strategically very important. India’s presence here would seriously undermine the Chinese influence and disrupt the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The present standoff with China has to be seen in this larger perspective. It is the question of the dignity of our citizens living in Gilgit Baltistan, an integral part of India.