Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies and Urban Studies

First Advisor

Garth Myers

Second Advisor

Shafqat Hussain


Since Pakistan’s inception, Gilgit-Baltistan, a sprawling region in Northern Pakistan, has not been granted provincial status due to its colonial association with the disputed region of Kashmir. Gilgit-Baltistan refutes its forceful integration with Kashmir, an unfortunate remnant of British divide-and-rule strategy, and demands provincial recognition and constitutional rights. Pakistan unfairly claims that it awaits the UN-sanctioned plebiscite in Kashmir to determine the region’s status. However, the likelihood of a plebiscite is little to none, since the Indian government officially annexed Indian-held Kashmir in August 2019, breaching the UN resolution on the plebiscite. A region that has been at the mercy of draconian empires for centuries, is now exploited by an independent country it fought to join. Numerous self-empowerment reforms have created a façade of devolution, while the federal government holds direct control over the region’s activities. China holds unconstrained access to the region, without the permission of the local government. State-sponsored sectarian violence undermines unity and stability. The people protest the region’s ambiguous status that disenfranchises its tax-paying and law-abiding population.

In this senior honors thesis, I argue that the government of Pakistan intends to concretize Gilgit-Baltistan’s liminal status. Employing an urban definition of liminal space, I describe Gilgit-Baltistan’s history of uncertainty and disillusionment, in the context of its regional neighbors claiming parts of it. I emphasize that boundary-making politics of South Asia and Pakistan’s absolute control over its deprived population maintain the territorial and political ambiguity of the region. It is to be seen if Gilgit-Baltistan initiates a nation-wide revolt against the colonial-like rule of Pakistan and has its valid demands for long-awaited recognition met.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Urban Studies.