With almost 2 million inhabitants Gilgit-Baltistan is a very diverse region of Pakistan. The population of this new autonomous region is divided in 4 of the Islamic faith - Shia's constitute 35%, Sunnis 35%, Ismailis 25% and Noorbukshies are 5%. Gilgit Baltistan will have 24 constituents seats in the National Assembly plus 6 Women seats and 3 Technocrat seats.
Gilgit-Baltistan is divided into six districts called Hunza-Nager, Gilgit, Koh-e-Ghizer, Ghanche, Diamir and Skardu.
On September 7, 2009, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan signed what was called the Gilgit- Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 granted self-rule to the people of the former Northern Areas, now renamed "Gilgit-Baltistan," by creating, among other things, an elected legislative assembly
Gilgit which is known as Dardistan and it includes 4 Districts Astore, Diamer,Gilgit and Ghizar. Major cities are Gilgit, Chilas, Hunza and Gahkuch
Baltistan includes the districts of Skardu and Ghanche. Major cities are Skardu and Kaplu.
People in Gilgit :
The people belong to the Dardic race and are closely connected with Chitralis in race, culture and language. They are mostly followers of Ismaili sect headed by the Agha Khan (Muslims).
This region was conquered by Maharaja Gulab Singh’s son, Maharaja Ranbir Singh between 1846 and 1860. Thousands of Dogra soldiers lost their lives in the campaigns that led to the conquest of this inhospitable but strategically very important region. The whole Dardistan including Gilgit has been merged with Pakistan and is governed by the Pakistani Central Government. This area has not been included even in the so called “Azad-Kashmir” (literally means Free/Liberated Kashmir)
Gilgit-Baltistan borders the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang to the northeast, the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir to the south and southeast, the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to the south, and Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province to the west.
Gilgit-Baltistan population is very diverse. 35 per cent Shias, 35 per cent are Sunnis, 25 per cent Ismailis, and 5% Noorbukshies .
The Legislative Assembly will have 24 members, who will be elected directly and in addition, there will be six women and three technocrat seats. In order to empower the Council and the Assembly on financial matters there would be a consolidated fund.The budget of the area would be presented and approved by the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly.
Voting Pattern :
The voting pattern is yet to be determined but Sunnis, Shias and Ismailis have divergent voting trends. None of them are in allied to each other in any way.
Shias generally support the PPP and Ismailis in Karachi support the MQM. 35% Sunnis with this diverse of a group might vote in all directions including the PML-N, MQM, PPP and maybe PML-Q. Its yet to be seen where Noorbukshies would swing towards. 25% of Baltistan constitutes of Noorbukshies.
The Chief Judge of the Appellate Court will be appointed by the Chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council on the advice of the Governor, and other judges will be appointed by the Chairman on the advice of the Governor after seeking the views of the Chief Judge. The number of judges will be increased from three to five. A Gilgit-Baltistan Public Service Commission, a separate Auditor-General and an Election Commissioner will be appointed.
The judiciary of the Northern Areas consists of district courts and a chief court, whose decisions are final.
Gilgit-Baltistan Districts and Division :
The Gilgit-Baltistan is divided into six districts called Hunza-Nager, Gilgit, Koh-e-Ghizer, Ghanche, Diamir and Skardu. These districts are grouped into three agencies or Divisions called Diamir with headquarters at Chilas, Gilgit with headquarters in Gilgit Town and Baltistan with headquarters in Skardu Town.
Population (2008) 1,800,000 (Estimate) Density 20.7/km² Area 72496 km²
Ethnic Groups :
There are eight ethnic groups : Baltis, Yashkuns, Moghal, Kashmiris, Pathans, Laddakis and Turks.
The Shina language (with several dialects) is the language of 40% of the population, spoken mainly in Gilgit, throughout Diamer, and in some parts of Ghizer.
Balti dialect, a sub-dialect of Ladakhi and part of Tibetan language group, is spoken by the entire population of Baltistan.
Wakhi, spoken in upper Hunza, and in some villages in Ghizer.
Khowar is the major language of Ghizer.
Burushaski is an isolated language spoken in Hunza, Nagar, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), in some parts of Gilgit and in some villages of Punyal.
Domaaki is spoken by the musician clans in the region.
Pashto is also spoken by a small minority.
People who live in Gilgit Baltistan, despite that region's being referred to as part of Kashmir, do not speak Kashmiri or any of its dialects.
Sects and Religious diversity :
The four major religious sects are Sunnies, Shias, Ismailies and Noorbukshies. Sunnies are mostly in Daimer, Astore and Gilgit districts. The majority of Shias are in Skardu. Ganche Division has majority Nurbakhshi (80%), Sunnis and Shias are evenly divided with 10%. The Ismalies are mostly in Ghizer district and in Hunza sub-division of Gilgit district.
The sect-wise breakdown of population :
Population Demographics :
Gilgit District :
Gilgit Capital :
Gilgit city and division – 60% Shia, 40% Sunni;,
Nagar II : 100% Ismaili
Nagar I : 100% Shia
Gojal : Sunni, Shia and Ismailis
Aliabad : Sunni, Shia and Ismailis
Capital : Gahkuch
Hunza –100% Ismaili; ,
Punial – 100% Ismaili;
Yasin – 100% Ismaili;
Ishkoman –100% Ismaili;
Gupis – 100% Ismaili;
District Daimer :
Capital Chilas :
Chilas – 100% Sunni;
Darel/Tangir – 100% Sunni;
District Astore :
Astor – 90%Sunni, 10% Shia;
Baltistan – 55% Shia,20% Sunni, 25% Noorbukshies
Shigar (Captial Skardu)
Gultari : 45% Shias, 30% Sunni, 25% Noorbukshie
Kharmang : 45% Shias, 30% Sunni, 25% Noorbukshie
District Ganche :
Kaplu : 80 % Noorbukshies, 10% Sunnis, 10% Shias
Mashabrum : 80 % Noorbukshies, 10% Sunnis, 10% Shias
Ethnic Run Down of the Gilgit-Baltistan area :
There are eight ethnic groups:
Interesting Facts :
Demographics of Baltis as an ethnic group: Shia' denomination (13%), Nurbakhshi (80%) and Sunnis (7%).
Noorbakshi : An order of Islamic Sufism. The core message of Nurbakhshism are complete elimination of all evil desires and immoralities of human nature from one’s self; total submission of one’s wills before God (by following the Qur'an Sunnah and Ahlibeit) and finally love and peace for the whole mankind. Nurbakhshis inhabit Baltistan and Ladakh regions of J&K, as well as a large number of Noorbakshis are native to Iran, Kurdistan and Central Asia.
Each district can boast of at least one lofty peak. Out of 14 over 8,000 meters high peaks on earth, 4 occupy an amphitheater at the head of Baltoro glacier in the Karakoram range in Northern Pakistan. These are; K-2 or Mount Godowin Austin (8,611 m, world's second highest), Gasherbrum-I (8,068 m), Broad Peak (8,047 m) and Gasherbrum-II (8,035 m). There is yet another which is equally great, Nanga Parbat (8,126 m), located at the western most end of the Himalayas. In addition to these mountains, there are 68 peaks over 7,000 m and hundreds others of over 6,000 meters.
The Northern Pakistan has some of the longest glaciers outside Polar region; Siachen (72 km), Hispar (61 km), Biafo (60 km), Baltoro (60 km) and Batura (64 km)
Division- Baltistan :
District, Ghanche, Area (km²) 9,400 ,Headquarters Khaplu.
District, Skardu ,Area (km²) 18,000 ,Headquarters Skardu
Division - Gilgit :
District, Astore, Area (km²) 8,657, Headquarters Gorikot. Gorikot lies on the historic junction where roads link to Rattu axis and Tarisheng Base camp-Nanga Perbat and other axis leads to Gudai - Chilum & Deosai Plains linking Astore to Skardu.
District , Diamir, Area (km²) 10,936, Headquarters Chilas
District , Ghizar, Area (km²) 9,635 ,Headquarters Gahkuch
District, Gilgit ,Area (km²) 39,300 ,Headquarters Gilgit.
Books and Resources :
Sectarian War: Pakistan’s Sunni-Shia Violence and its links to the Middle East.
Demographics of Pakistan.
Languages of Pakistan.