India on Monday said it had lodged a strong protest with Islamabad over any “action to alter the status” of territories illegally occupied by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir and asked it to vacate all such areas. It was reacting to the changes to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution (13th Amendment) Act, 2018, which abolished the AJK Councils’s administrative and financial powers, reducing it to an advisory body.
It was clearly conveyed that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the “so-called Azad Jammu and Kashmir” is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. “Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever, and is completely unacceptable. Instead of seeking to alter the status of the occupied territories, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the statement said.
Early this month, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) dominated joint sitting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Council approved the amendments to the AJK Constitution. Last month, India had summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strong protest over Islamabad’s latest move relating to administrative authority over the Gilgit-Baltistan region, saying any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under its “forcible and illegal occupation” has no legal basis.
The MEA had said it conveyed to Shah that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ areas, is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. Through its order on Gilgit-Baltistan on May 21, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi seized more authority from the local council to deal with the affairs of the region.