Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province, a Pakistani media report on Thursday quoted a senior minister as saying. The move is likely backed by China, with geo-political and economic interests at the core.
According to a report in the Express Tribune, Pakistan’s minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Ali Amin Gandapur said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon visit the region and make the formal announcement to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights. This means that the region, which lies in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) will be made Pakistan’s fifth province and get representation in Parliament.
China has been pressuring Pakistan for several years now to incorporate Gilgit-Baltistan as a full fledged province. The $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), linking China’s western city of Kashgar to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea passes through the region, and China couldn’t afford to “invest billions of dollars on a road that passes through a disputed territory claimed both by India and Pakistan”.
India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession.
The government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Instead, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation, the Ministry of External Affairs said in May while protesting Islamabad’s efforts to bring material change in Pakistan occupied territories.
(With agency inputs)