In the second part of the interview, Senge Hasnan Sering, the director of the Gilgit Baltistan National Congress, tells Ramananda Sengupta why Pakistan will continue its policy of terror, and why India must refrain from military retaliation, and work instead with the secular pro-democracy forces, like those in Gilgit Baltistan.
Part I: 'Pakistan, China must leave Gilgit-Baltistan'
How do the people of Gilgit Baltistan perceive India?
Until the mid-80s, India was judged by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan through the prism of religion and the two-nation theory. Pakistani media and textbooks filled with hatred for Hindus and India also affected the minds of the natives of Gilgit-Baltistan, who remained delusional about Pakistan, claimed by its founders as the so-called citadel of Islam and a welfare state created to safeguard the Muslims of India.
In 1988, when one-hundred thousand Pakistani forces and militants attacked Gilgit-Baltistan, and subjected natives to arson, loot, rape and forced conversion, it compelled the natives to review their trust and belief in their adopted country. They felt insulted, exploited and threatened by Pakistan oppressors.
A decade later, a meaningless Kargil War consumed more than four thousand natives of Gilgit-Baltistan. This was another incident which forced the natives to change their perception about Pakistan as well as India.
Many locals were surprised that India didn't occupy Gilgit-Baltistan despite the opportunity which was presented to it during the final days of the war. On the other hand, Pakistan was seen as an exploiter which damaged the land, and hurt the interests of natives of Gilgit-Baltistan by engaging in a fruitless war.
Buddha etchings on rocks in Manthal, Skardo town, date back to 2 century BC. At the bottom of the boulder you can see damage done by Pakistani tourists. Picture courtesy Senge Hasnan Sering.
Video: Pakistan destroys Gilgit Baltistan's heritage