Stories about Gilgit-Baltistan

Pakistan’s melting glaciers: Our climate change crisis will destabilise Asia’s rivers

Pakistan is fortunate to be home to three great mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. In fact, on the drive up the Karakoram Highway from Islamabad to Gilgit, I often stop at a place near Jaglote town where these three ranges actually meet. One can see the grand vista from the road, which could easily be missed if not for a sign nearby which reads, “The junction point of the three mightiest mountain ranges of the world.” The Karakoram includes the K2, the world’s second-highest peak, and is the most heavily glaciated area on the planet apart ...

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Siksa Valley: Turning Gilgit-Baltistan’s barren lands into green miracles

I had never been past Khaplu in the Ganche District of Baltistan, a lovely green valley encircled by towering mountains. I had stayed a few times at the picturesque Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel, which has painstakingly been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel Hence, I was excited to actually drive past Khaplu and head further north towards our border area with India’s Ladakh region. This is a restricted area controlled by the Army and most tourists are turned back. Luckily, we had clearances as we were heading to a village ...

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7 reasons to look back at 2017 and be proud of Pakistan

2017 would be mainly remembered by the judicial verdict in Panamagate, whereby a sitting prime minister was sent packing by the Supreme Court, and the pervasive political turmoil that ensued as a result of that decision. There were many positive events during the year that would help us look back at 2017 with a fond smile. As we move closer towards 2018, here is some of the inspiring and reassuring news that came out of Pakistan: 1. Top of the sports world Anyone who knows anything about cricket will tell you that if there is one team that has the raw talent ...

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Bujayote: The future of Pakistan’s musical valley may be bright, but the future of their music is dark

In the extreme north of Pakistan, a small area located in Yasin Valley known as Bujayote, is the home of traditional musicians. According to these artists, this name is associated with one of the very early musicians named ‘Bujaye’, a professional, whose generation pursued this profession. The area is also locally known as “Ustadishoo Deh” which literally means the neighbourhood of the musicians. Yasin Valley is one of the many mountain-locked valleys in the extreme north of Gilgit-Baltistan. The instrumentalists of Yasin perform in a set group of more than three. One of them plays a pair of kettle drums locally called ...

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From Naran to Khunjerab Pass: A trip to the enthralling eighth wonder of the world and Pakistan’s very own heaven

It was the second week of September, and a bright sunny day, as we set out from Lahore on our journey to the northern areas of the country. My wife and I had been planning this trip for weeks but were still apprehensive on what was to come since we had never ventured this far up north. We hadn’t seen most of the places that we planned on covering but were excited nonetheless, since we were about to make our journey across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to Gilgit Baltistan (GB) all the way up to Khunjerab Pass. We left Lahore and made our way to Nathiagali, ...

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Who is a Pakistani? A Muslim? A desperate migrant? Different from an Indian? A caged woman?

Over the past two years, I have travelled to 15 countries, either by myself or with friends. Before this nomadic lifestyle of mine, I had lived my entire life within a bubble in Pakistan, and honestly, the question of what it meant to be a Pakistani never occurred to me. But as I travelled and met more people whose cultures and values were as foreign to me as mine were to them, my innate assumptions about the notion of the Pakistani identity were challenged. Numerous people helped me reflect on the overarching perceptions of my country. I was a medium through which they could know more about a ...

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Given the Pakistan-India rivalry, how pragmatic is it for IOK to be part of CPEC?

The dominant view from Indian-held Kashmir is that the disputed region could greatly benefit from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Provided both Islamabad and New Delhi declare all parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, Jammu, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B)) as a ‘single free economic zone’. Cutting across the ideological lines, leading stakeholders from India-held Kashmir argue that, “Kashmir can in fact become a gateway for India to be part of the CPEC, provided there is a settlement of the dispute first.” Without a whisker of doubt, the multi-billion dollar CPEC will definitely impact the socio-political and economic landscape of a certain part of the erstwhile ...

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Gilgit Baltistan: That part of Pakistan where coexistance is a reality

Gilgit Baltistan is one of the most bestowed and beautiful places on our planet. And its people: equally marvellous. I had heard about the tolerance and religious harmony in Gilgit but until recently, I hadn’t seen a practical example of this coexistence that Gilgitis so often boast about. I am sharing this beautiful story for the rest of the Pakistanis, it is one we must all learn from and emulate. In Sunni majority Pakistan, the picturesque territory of Gilgit Baltistan is the only province of Shia majority. As such, the sacred month of Muharram has a special place in the region’s annual calendar. Just days ago, during the commemoration ...

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Why I am disappointed with Coke Studio season 9

Dear Coke Studio, I thank you for your efforts, for giving us some fine music yet again and bringing together the best talent in Pakistan. You are indeed a platform that makes us proud of our music. There are so many reasons why we love you and eagerly await your season each year. However, despite being a fan of your music, I couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied over the fact that you have completely neglected other provinces and their music in your latest season. Your biased attitude has disgruntled me. And it leaves me as a fan feeling like this gesture was in bad taste. I love Punjabi and Urdu ...

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Quaid-e-Azam inter-provincial games: A light at the end of Pakistan’s barren sports tunnel

What is it about Lionel Messi that excites fans as he dribbles the ball across the field? What gives players like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic the ability to hypnotise fans as they compete on the court? Is Usain Bolt’s speed really a big deal, after all, he did only run a 100-meter race at the Olympics. It seems as though for the average Pakistani, everything that is remotely foreign seems to be infinitely more appealing, but does that really come as a surprise? Pakistan’s football team is ranked 190th in the world, we are still raving about Aisamul Haq’s success ...

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