In a bid to usher in a new era of development in the federal territory and provide the youth of the region with more employment opportunities, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has approved a historic development package for Gilgit-Baltistan, according to reports published by leading media outlets.
Though the PM is expected to announce the details of the package during his upcoming visit to the northern area, it has been reported that the program will focus on the construction of road and power projects, infrastructure development, environmental protection, and of course, tourism.
Since Gilgit-Baltistan is considered the top tourist destination in Pakistan and attracts hundreds of thousands of travellers and adventure seekers from all around the world, the approval of a development package can play a huge part in further promoting tourism in the area.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office stated the “Gilgit-Baltistan Integrated Development Plan” was approved during a recent high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. It further noted that the development of Gilgit-Baltistan was among the top priorities of the federal government.
“Gilgit-Baltistan has huge potential for tourism that needs to be exploited. There is a need to pay special attention to tourism promotion and environmental protection,” the prime minister said during the meeting. “The projects will produce effective solutions to the problems of the region and numerous job opportunities will be available to the youth.”
Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Khalid Khurshid, Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Minister of Finance Hammad Azhar also attended the meeting held to approve the development package for Gilgit Baltistan along with other ministers and government officials.
A Brief Overview of Gilgit-Baltistan
Located in the northern-most part of Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan constitutes the northern part of the greater Kashmir region. It became a separate administrative territory in 1970 and was called the Northern Areas before being granted limited autonomy in 2009 and renamed as Gilgit-Baltistan. It is now divided into three administrative divisions: Baltistan, Gilgit and Diamer, each of which are further divided into multiple districts. Gilgit is the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan while Skardu is its largest city.
Apart from its breathtaking beauty and mesmerizing views, the geographic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan is also something that needs to be highlighted. The region borders the Xinjiang province of China to its east and northeast, Azad Jammu and Kashmir to its south, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, and the Indian-occupied state of Kashmir to the southeast. Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lies to its west.
Gilgit-Baltistan also boasts some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It is home to three of the world’s highest mountain ranges –the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. Five of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks are also situated in this region, including the K-2 and Nanga Parbat. In addition to that, three of the world’s biggest glaciers outside the polar ice caps are also present in Gilgit-Baltistan. The region is also home to several high-altitude lakes, meadows, valleys, waterfalls, rivers, and national parks.
If you really want to explore the region, consider taking a road trip from Islamabad to Khunjerab Pass, which is also called the Pak-China border. It is the highest point on Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan, located at an altitude of 4,693 meters.
To conclude, the approval of the development package for Gilgit-Baltistan is being widely hailed as a good decision, as it may play a major role in boosting tourism in Pakistan while providing the locals with better job opportunities.
Please note that this blog will be updated as more details about the Gilgit-Baltistan Integrated Development Plan are revealed. Therefore, make sure to check back frequently.
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