There has been a general misunderstanding among the people of Jammu and Kashmir with respect to the identity of Gilgit-Baltistan. Almost all nationalist and mainstream political parties of Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir have been taking the same irrational and illogical stance on Gilgit-Baltistan. They consider GB as the third part of the divided Himalayan state in contrast to historical, social and cultural facts.
Ethnically, historically, linguistically, GB has been a distinct region. Gilgit-Baltistan, divided into many dynastic states, has remained independent of Kashmir throughout history till 1846.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir, ruled by Dogra dynasty, was established with the British blessings in 1846. It had occupied some parts of Gilgit-Baltistan with British support who did not want a direct confrontation with Russia. They faced fierce resistance in Gilgit, Ghizer and Chilas and could not conquer Hunza and Nagar states despite many attacks. Finally, it was the British that invaded and occupied these states in 1890.
With the Partition of India, Kashmir dispute erupted as a result of an international imperialist design and clubbed Gilgit-Baltistan with Kashmir issue under UN resolutions after declaring it a disputed region with the consent of Pakistan and India.
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are not Kashmiris but yes they are party to the Kashmir dispute. Historical facts cannot be distorted or belied.
For instance, Chitral and Indus Kohistan have been historic parts of Gilgit-Baltistan with the shared history, ethnicity and languages but Kashmiris, whether pro-independence, pro-Pakistan or pro-India, are least bothered and consider these regions outside the scope of their interest. This simple dichotomy found in the Kashmiri narrative exposes the shallowness of the chauvinist Kashmiri claim over Gilgit-Baltistan. The fact is that they are considered kith and kin in the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Kashmiris are sufferers of occupation and they have the right to self-determination beyond any condition. Same is the suffering of Gilgit-Baltistan. Therefore, both need to fight for the common cause. But how can such a common objective be achieved in the presence of such prejudices and chauvinism?
People in the Gilgit-Baltistan ask how a neighbour who has not even seen the region, not even heard the language nor knows the history can make such claims. This absurdity has only helped widen the gulf and it has been a major obstacle in building a shared struggle.