A detailed study on the rock carvings from trans-pamir area, Hindukush, Karakorum and western Himalaya denotes that the chronological history of the area from Stone Age through Bronze Age to historical times is similar to what we read about civilizational evolution of Central Asia and East Europe. The Megalith Builders, Dardic people, Gandharans, Alexander’s remnants, Sythians and Parthians, Great Kushans, Huns, Tibatens of China, Tarkhans, the ruling elites of Central Asia, Khurasan and India, all of them contributed a great deal to cultural evolution of this multi-ethnic social composition. The whole area fell to different invaders from surrounding territories time and again but the interaction of numerous social groups germinated a classical diversity for the times to come. It is pertinent to note that before the British invasion, the present Gilgit Baltistan was divided into dozens of principalities, republics and small monarchies. These independent units were in a constant state of war and at logger heads with each other, but, there was an amazing factor which survived among them. They stood united against all “external” invasions.
The Diamar region minus Bunji and Astore, Chilas, Thalichi, Thor comprised half a dozen democratic republics and was ruled by Jastero (local elder) who was considered as the key to the system. The Gilgit region i.e., Hunza, Nagar, Greater Yasin including Koh Ghizer, Punial, Mastuj and Ishkoman were ruled by Mirs and Rajas assisted by Wazirs. The Baltistan region was divided into eight principalities namely: Rondeu, Astore, Skardu, Shigar, Kiris, Khaplu, Tolti and Kharmang. Makpon Amacha and Yabgo were the ruling elites and Raja of Skardu was the actual ruler who held sway over others in external and internal affairs. The Gilgit Baltistan, owing to its geographical location and trade routes passing through it linking the subcontinent to China and Central Asia , had become lucrative to Sikhs of Punjab and Dogras of Kashmir. Therefore, the Sikhs and Dogras attacked and occupied a large part of Gilgit Baltistan from 1840 to 1890. The Sikhs conquered Astore, Bunji and Gilgit. However, later on the same were reconquered by Dogras along with Yasin, Punial, Darel, Chilas, Rondu, Shigar, Skardu and Khaplu. In 1891-92, after furious battles at Nilt and Thol, the British Indian Army conquered Hunza, Nagar and Gilgit, thus bringing the whole area under the British Raj. During the period 1890-1935, the British by forming Gilgit Agency under single administration divided the region into four sub-units i.e., Gilgit, Ladakh, Skardu and Kargil, external affairs were controlled by the British, the internal administration was largely left to the Kashmir Government.
In 1935 under an agreement, the Kashmir Government leased out the region west of river Indus to the British for a period of 60 years. This lease was, however, terminated in July 1947 and an era of struggle for freedom began with the partition of the sub-continent. The Gilgit revolution was a reaction to the centuries long tyranny of foreign rulers, the British and Maharaja of Kashmir. The revolution was a joint struggle of the patriotic officers of Gilgit scouts, the Muslim officers group of 6J&K Infantry Battalion and the local inhabitants of different ethnic identities. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan got freedom from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir on November 1, 1947 through their own resources, they established a new state of their own, Raja Shah Rais Khan became the President while Mirza Hassan Khan the Commander-in-Chief of the Gilgit scouts. The region had run its own government for 15 days and then offered Pakistan to take over the administration and to give the inhabitants citizenship and other human rights. However, at the time of cease-fire on 1st January 1949, every person of Gilgit Baltistan had become Pakistani. In November 1947, Government of Pakistan appointed a political agent in response to the invitation by the provisional government setup in Gilgit after the successful revolution. In 1950, Ministry of Kashmir affairs was established replacing the control of Government of N.W.F.P and a political resident as an agent of Governor General was directed to look after the affairs. In 1952, the joint secretary, Kashmir Affairs Division, was entrusted with the additional charge of the post of resident and chief advisor for Azad Kashmir.
From 1967 to 1974, the administrative structure of the Gilgit Baltistan was reshaped and Hunza and Nagar were absorbed in Pakistan. The whole bureaucratic and administrative setup was designed on the pattern of the rest of the country. After 1985, with the construction of Karakorum Highway, Gilgit Baltistan was given five districts Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamar, Skardu Astore. During various successive civil and military governments, the local political and social representatives kept on raising voices for reforms and demanded developmental projects for the uplift of the region. In the frame of political activities, underwent major changes with the advent of General Musharaf’s rule. The enforcement of the government’s reforms package put the secessionist and sectarian stir at rest and the attention of the natives was diverted to healthy political activities. The holding of gradual elections of the Northern Area Council redirected the life of the inhabitants and a strong sense of participation in the local affairs spreaded throughout the area. With the emergence of Pakistan Peoples Party government, the people of Gilgit Baltistan demanded an equal status for their region. The new political government took definite steps which helped the locals to rebuild their economy. In the areas of Agro-based industries, food processing, health sector, educational development, water channels construction, mineral production, tourism and social welfare, the federal government continued to strengthen Gilgit Baltistan. In 2009, the Parliament of Pakistan gave approval of various fundamental and far -reaching reforms package by declaring the Federally Administered Northern Areas as the new province of Gilgit Baltistan. Thus, as a result, a complete provincial setup has been created.
On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the President Asif Ali Zardari. It granted self-rule to the people of the former Northern Areas, renamed “Gilgit Baltistan” by creating, an elected legislative assembly.