New Delhi: India on Sunday rejected Pakistan’s move of granting provisional-provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. In a strongly worded reply, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs Anurag Srivastava said “the area of so-called Gilgit-Baltistan” are an integral part of India.
Underlining India’s stand on the issue, MEA officials said that the territory has been illegally and forcibly occupied by Pakistan.
“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. The Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it,” a statement released by MEA stated.
Such attempts by Pakistan, MEA said, ‘intended to camouflage its (Pakistan) 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.
“Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the statement read.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday officially announced the provincial status of Gilgit-Baltistan, which New Delhi asserts is part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
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. (HT)