India slams Pak plan to give fifth province status to Gilgit-Baltistan region
An external affairs ministry spokesperson says any such move is “entirely unacceptable” to Indiaindia Updated: Mar 16, 2017 22:49 IST
India on Friday reacted strongly to an attempt by Pakistan to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region, bordering disputed Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), as its fifth province, saying such move is “entirely unacceptable.”
There are reports that a committee headed by Pakistan’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz has proposed status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Responding to the reports, external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said any such step would not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan’s occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir, which it must vacate, forthwith.
“The entire state of J&K is an integral part, has been an integral part and will be an integral part of India. No attempt or unilateral attempt or step to change that would have any legal basis, whatsoever, and it will be entirely unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.
The move will not be able to “hide the tremendous, very concerning human rights violations and denial of freedom” that has been going on in parts of J&K controlled by Pakistan for the last 70 years, he said.
Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. It has a regional assembly and an elected chief minister.
At present, Pakistan has four provinces -- Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
It is believed that China’s concerns about the unsettled status of the strategic region prompted Pakistan to explore change in its status.
Asked about Pakistan having expressed concern over acquittal of Assemanand in Ajmer Sharif blast case, Baglay said India completely rejects Pakistan’s “efforts and intention to meddle” in the country’s internal affairs, including in the Indian judicial process.
“We also totally reject the ulterior link which is sought to be established by Pakistan with any other matter under the purview of the Indian courts. A strong Indian democracy and justice system obviously need no self-serving sermons from anybody much less from a country like Pakistan,” he asserted.
The spokesperson also advised Pakistan to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of India and not to deny the reality of terrorism emanating from its soil, which was affecting not only India but the entire neighbourhood and beyond.
Baglay also reiterated India’s demand that Pakistan should dismantle terrorist infrastructure in its own territory or the territory under its control, and bring to justice the terror masterminds who still operate and continue to enjoy freedom on its soil.
Pakistan foreign office had last week summoned India’s deputy high commissioner J P Singh to express its concern over acquittal of right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand in 2007 Ajmer Sharif blast case.
First Published: Mar 16, 2017 21:44 IST