THE MINISTRY of External Affairs on Sunday summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strongly worded protest against Islamabad’s Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, which essentially gives people of Gilgit-Baltistan all rights enjoyed by the four provinces of Pakistan.
Asserting that the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan areas, was an integral part of India, the MEA warned Islamabad of any move to declare it as the fifth province.
Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are four provinces of Pakistan.
“It was clearly conveyed that the entire state of J&K, which also includes the ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ areas, is an integral part of India,” the MEA said.
It said any action by Pakistan to alter the status of a territory by force or illegal occupation had no legal basis and it should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.
The ministry said it was also conveyed to Shah that such actions could neither hide the illegal occupation of part of J&K by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations being perpetrated upon those residing there.
China’s concerns about the unsettled status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to change its status since Beijing’s ambitious CPEC project passes through the region, which borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.