With all efforts to counter India internationally on the issue of Kashmir failing, Pakistan, led by the Imran Khan government, is left embarrassed and visibly shaken. Amid the tensed situation over the Kashmir issue, India has turned up the heat on its neighbouring country on Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK) with New Delhi clearing its stand on the matter.
On multiple platforms, the Indian government has spoken on taking back PoK from Pakistan, with Home Minister Amit Shah unequivocally maintaining that whenever he refers to J&K, PoK and Aksai Chin are also implicit. During the Article 370 debate in the Lok Sabha earlier in August, he also asserted that the Centre is ready to do whatever it takes to take back PoK from Pakistan. In another incident, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also said that if at all dialogues will take place between India and Pakistan, it would now be on PoK.
With New Delhi significantly turning up the heat on the Imran Khan establishment over PoK, here's how it would affect Pakistan if PoK is taken away from the neighbouring country:
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) provides the 106-kms border with Afghanistan, which subsequently becomes an important factor for trade between the two countries. If India occupies PoK, it would not only boost Indo-Afghanistan trade with direct connectivity between the two countries, but also direct connectivity between a boost to Indo-Afghan trade and directly affect Pakistan's trade.
PoK shares its borders with multiple countries namely - the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province provinces (now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) in Pakistan to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north-west, Xinjiang province of the People’s Republic of China to the north and India’s Jammu and Kashmir to the east. This makes PoK a geopolitically significant gateway and supply line to four countries.
PoK comprises of the Gilgit-Baltistan that links Gwadar port to China and forms the spine of the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for Pakistan. It is important to note here that the Gwadar Port boasts of China-Pakistan's strategic relationship and, without the control of Gilgit-Baltistan (PoK), Gwadar will have no meaning to China, leaving Pakistan in agony.
As per a recently published report, Pakistan's exports to Afghanistan dwindled to just $1.4 billion in 2018-19 from $2.6 billion in 2010-11 implying that Pakistan was losing its only captive market. Significantly, the captive market is shifting to Iran and India in the light of frequent closures of trade borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This signifies that PoK has become the one and only chance for Pakistan to gain control of Afghanistan's captive market.
Under the CPEC, China has planned a $ 2.% billion pipeline between Gwadar and Nawabshah to transport natural gas and oil from Iran. Now, without the corridor, Pakistan will face major strains.
Gilgit Baltistan serves as the focal point to access mineral and energy-rich markets of Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan - without which Pakistan has zero strategic value.
With the Karakoram Highway, PoK serves as the route to trade goods between India and China and also to transfer arms, ammunition and nuclear missile material from China. Notably, Pakistan and China have also signed several agreements for building dams in PoK. If India gets PoK, Pakistan may face some serious trade consequences.
Two of the four major dams providing water to Pakistan from Indian rivers are located in PoK - the Tarbela dam in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Mangla dam in Mirpur - allowing water access from Jhelum river and generating 1,500MW hydropower.
India’s position on PoK has signified that the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including PoK, is legitimately an essential part of India. Home Minister Amit Shah also clarified it in the Parliament that when he talks about J&K, PoK is included in it, India has maintained that J&K completely is an integral part. Union Minister Jitendra Singh recently reiterated that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan will be part of India one day. Furthermore, on February 22, 1994, both houses of the Indian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution highlighting that J&K as an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of J&K under its forced occupation.