The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday summoned Pakistan deputy envoy 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,” MEA said in a statement.
It further 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. “Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis,” MEA conveyed to Shah.
The new order, which replaced the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009, essentially seizes the powers of Gilgit Baltistan Council and entrusts the Prime Minister of Pakistan with indisputable authorities. All powers exercised by the four provincial assemblies under Schedule IV of the Constitution of Pakistan has been entrusted to the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.
The ministry said it was also conveyed to the Pakistani deputy envoy 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.
It is believed that 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.
This is the second time that Pakistan’s deputy envoy has been summoned this week. Shah was summoned on Wednesday too over the killing of a seven-month-old infant in unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bhimber sector.