Gilgit Baltistan

The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region is a scenic mountainous region in Pakistan’s north that borders China and the Kashmir region administered in separate chunks by both Pakistan and India. This makes GB hostage to the bitter dispute between the two South Asian nuclear neighbors that have gone to war over claims over the entire Kashmir region. Under Pakistan’s constitution, the GB region of around 1.5 million people, retains the status of a special territory that falls short of making it formally a part of Pakistan’s formal constitutional jurisdiction.

That is subject to the outcome of the future of the status of Kashmir that itself lays claim to GB as its part that was left into question when British-ruled India broke into independent India and Pakistan in 1947 with political and military control of Kashmir botched in the process. This tainted and still-unresolved political conundrum means GB remains subject to national policies that place security considerations above development priorities. This inevitably means the media in GB remains unrepresentative in terms of size and influence being assiduously controlled and restricted from being free to be professional and reflective of the aspirations of the local population.

There is little native media apart from some recent online platforms that aim but often fail to substitute for the absence of free formal media. Another characteristic of GB is its relatively large footprint of religious and sectarian minorities’ followers that are native considering Pakistan’s overall faith-based landscape. Their inadequate representation in media news and views – both locally and across Pakistan – contributes to the general lack of apathy for religious minorities that is a key characteristic of the overall media landscape in Pakistan.

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