The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday said Pakistab’s decision to grant “provisional provincial status” to Gilgit-Baltistan was an attempt to camouflage its illegal occupation. MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the Union Territories of J&K, Ladakh, including Gilgit-Baltistan, were an integral part of India.
“The government of India firmly rejects attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation. I reiterate Union Territories of J&K, Ladakh, including Gilgit-Baltistan, are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947. The Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it,” the MEA said in a statement.
The MEA reaction comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced the granting of “provisional provincial status” to Gilgit-Baltistan “while keeping in view the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions”, Dawn reported.
“We have made a decision to grant provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, which has long been the demand here,” Khan said in a speech in the city of Gilgit. The development comes at a time when massive protests have been taking place against the Imran Khan-led government over the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan.
“Such attempts, intended to camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation, can’t hide grave human rights violations and denial of freedom for over seven decades to people residing in these Pakistan-occupied territories,” the MEA further said.
Last month too India had strongly objected to Islamabad’s move to alter the status of the region after Pakistan announced that dlection for the legislative assembly of Gilgit Baltistan would be held on November 15.
In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed the government to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. Following the verdict, India issued a demarche to a senior Pakistani diplomat in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest over the Pakistan Supreme Court ruling. ( Indian Express )