Almost 130 years ago the representatives of two unequal empires faced off inside a royal tent in the remote Gilgit-Balistan region of Pakistan.
Sir Francis Younghusband, a British colonial officer and master spy, arrived in full regimental uniform—shining with brass and braid—hoping to overawe the court of the fiercely independent kingdom of Hunza. Safdar Ali, the wily ruler of that small and reclusive mountain state, peacocked to the meeting in equally resplendent silks. The summit didn’t go well. Each man ended up lecturing the other about the superiority of his respective nation. “He was under the impression”—Younghusband sniffed of Ali—“that the Empress of India, the Czar of Russia, and the Emperor of China were chiefs of neighboring tribes.”
History hasn’t been kind to haughty outsiders in Gilgit-Baltistan.