A historical development related to Pakistan’s demographics is in the works. It seems nearly confirmed that Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) will be granted provisional provincial status, a demand that its people have made for decades.

The reports have come about because of a near consensus between the government granting this status to GB. This consensus seems to have occurred, despite escalating political tensions in the country, with the opposition attempting to unite under the APC against the government. Under this environment, this consensus is a feat and a welcome instance of bipartisan work that should be encouraged.

Yet GB is a politically sensitive and strategic area—any decision that has to be taken with regards to it has to be done impeccably, following the process and with careful thought. There are several international implications that could occur if this is not handled smoothly and if all the branches of government are not united in this.

This is why the government needs to be very careful and work alongside and accommodate the opposition. Indeed, so far, the meetings between the government and opposition appear to be balanced, with both sides making their fair share of demands. The opposition’s main contention appears to be that the governing party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) might use the granting of provisional provincial status as a political opportunity when nearly all political parties agree on the decision.

Precedent has shown that such significant decisions regarding provincial status and rights have had a long-lasting impact on the political leanings of the region—thus it makes sense why the opposition is cautious. They thus demand that consultations on the issue be held after the elections of GB’s legislative assembly later this year, so that the provincial status issue is not used to get votes.

This demand is not unreasonable. The elections should be held on time and completely impartially, as India will be looking for an excuse for disruption. The government needs to be careful and not give external adversaries any opportunity to find fault with the granting of provincial status.