While Imran Khan looks excited over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Gilgit-Baltistan, also known as the Gateway to CPEC, continues to remain neglected as the Prime Minister siphoned off allotted cash and projects to other regions.
According to an article titled 'The Gateway to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Is Closing' by Michael Rubin published in The National Interest, while the CPEC has saddled Pakistan with debt, it has not lived up to its ambitions, leaving Pakistan to face the inevitability of mortgaging sovereignty further to China or international financial institutions.
While the inclusion of Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan is illegal, the region, which is touted as the 'Gateway to CPEC', has become the symbol of CPEC's "false promises to the already neglected region".
According to The National Interest, while Gilgit is geographically essential to CPEC's success and Pakistani authorities pledged development along the highway, none materialized.
Similarly, the opportunities for education, employment and welfare that were promised under the CPEC never saw the light of the day.
While Gilgit-Baltistan suffers, Pakistan's major political parties have directed most of the alloted-money and associated projects to their own favoured regions in Sindh, Punjab among others. The best example of this is when Imran Khan canceled plans for Gilgit-Chitral road to favour a four-lane 50-mile highway between Chakdara to Fatehpur in Swat.
According to The National Interest, for Gilgit-Baltistan the problem has not only been a failure to reap benefits from CPEC but also that Khan's desire to please China has meant a net loss. While Pakistan, at the behest of China, had canceled the licenses of local miners, the Chinese contractors displaced thousands of residents without giving them compensation.
The author has opined that Imran Khan's behaviour towards the Gilgit-Baltistan region will affect the CPEC adversely. By siphoning off funds from the Gilgit-Chitral road, the region continues to be dependent on a single highway, which the locals can easily block to protest against the government