Pakistan, whose prime minister has officially declared a “provisional provincial status” to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), has rejected India’s assertion that Islamabad did not have any locus standi to bring such material changes to the region, which is part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Pakistan foreign office said it categorically rejected the Indian ministry of external affairs’ “irresponsible and unwarranted statement” regarding GB.
India had firmly rejected the attempt by Pakistan “to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory under its illegal and forcible occupation,” after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan declared the provisional provincial status to GB, carved out from the former occupied Northern Areas.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said on Sunday that the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, “including the area of so-called ‘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,” he said.
Attempts by Pakistan to “camouflage its illegal occupation cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan-occupied territories”, Srivastava added.
In its statement, the Pakistan foreign ministry claimed that India has no locus standi whatsoever on the issue — legal, moral or historical.
“For more than 73 years, India has been in illegal and forcible occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Regurgitation of false and fabricated claims by India can neither change the facts nor divert attention from India’s illegal actions and continuing humanitarian crisis resulting from perpetration of the worst human rights violations” in Kashmir, it said.
“Pakistan’s position on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute remains firmly anchored in the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The final resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is only possible through the exercise of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination by holding free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.”
It said the so-called provisional reforms in GB reflect the aspirations of its indigenous populace, adding that administrative, political and economic reforms are their long-standing demand.
“Pakistan calls upon India to immediately end its illegal and forcible occupation of parts of Jammu & Kashmir and comply with its international obligations by allowing the Kashmiris to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement said.
The Pakistan government plans to make Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province, conduct elections there in mid-November, and send representatives to both houses of Parliament. Khan’s ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, hopes to boost its numbers from the elections in GB. The move has the support of Pakistan’s military leadership.