After Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced granting provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, India has reacted saying that the Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly occupied by it”.
“The Government of India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
“I reiterate 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,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava said, adding that “the Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it.”
“Such attempts by Pakistan intended 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,” he added.
“Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”
Earlier in the day, Imran Khan announced his government’s decision to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth province of Pakistan.
Khan made the announcement on his visit to the area to attend its 73rd Independence Day celebrations.
“One of the reasons for me coming to Gilgit-Baltistan is to announce that we have decided to grant Gilgit-Baltistan the provisional provincial status,” he said.
“We have taken this decision keeping in mind the UN Security Council’s resolutions,” Khan added.
Khan said that he could not announce or talk about the development packages for Gilgit-Baltistan since it would be a violation of the stated procedures as elections were about to take place in the area.
“However, I will tell you that it is our government’s foremost policy to uplift Pakistan’s poor that amount to 25% of the population and the country’s backward areas,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that one of the many reasons Gilgit-Baltistan remained backwards was because it was “cut off” from the rest of Pakistan.
“Insha’Allah you will see in the coming days, our development plans will go there [backward areas],” he said.
Earlier on September 28 this year, Pakistan’s Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Khan Gandapur said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government was going to give provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Gandapur said granting the provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan has been the longstanding demand of the people in the region.
He said by making Gilgit-Baltistan a province, it would not [adversely] affect Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir as the decision had been taken only after consultations with the Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) government, Hurriyat leadership, international experts and all other stakeholders.