The Centre has taken strong exception to Pakistans plan for granting provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, an area it is in ‘illegal occupation’ of, and made it clear that the entire PoK belonged to India. In addition, it asked Pakistan to immediately vacate from the Indian territory, which the Imran Khan government declared as its provisional fifth province on 1 November.
Slamming Pakistan for its attempt to accord provincial status to the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan, the Ministry of External Affairs said it is intended to camouflage the illegal occupation of the region by Islamabad. MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad’s illegal and forcible occupation and asked the neighbouring country to immediately vacate such areas.
He said the government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly” occupied by it and that the latest move will not be able to hide the “grave” human rights violations in these Pakistan-occupied territories.
Pakistan has announced holding elections for the legislative assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan later this month. In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorizing the Prime Minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects.
On 8 October, in Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), a massive protest was organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Student Liberation Front against the government’s decision to make Gilgit-Baltistan a province. Political activists said that they will sacrifice themselves but will not let Pakistan alter the status of the region. People from Gilgit-Baltistan, who have been living in other Pakistani towns, have taken to the streets against Islamabad’s arbitrary decision.
Gilgit- Baltistan, earlier known as Northern Areas has been governed by the “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009”, which established an electoral framework. Elections have been held in the region under the Order that provides for only limited autonomy.
Following the verdict, India issued a demarche to a senior Pakistani diplomat here and lodged a strong protest over the apex court ruling.