Pakistan dismisses India’s objections over greater authority to Gilgit-Baltistan, PoK

On Sunday, India summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed Haider Shah and told him that any move to alter the status of any territory under Islamabad’s “forcible occupation” would have no legal basis.

world Updated: May 29, 2018 00:14 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad

Pakistan rejected India’s protests against its decision to give greater administrative and financial powers to Gilgit-Baltistan and its claim over Jammu and Kashmir even as it raked up the issue of alleged human rights abuses by Indian security forces.

India has strongly objected to a decision on Saturday by Pakistan’s National Security Committee, the top body of civilian and military officials, to give greater administrative and financial powers to Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

On Sunday, India summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed Haider Shah and told him that any move to alter the status of any territory under Islamabad’s “forcible occupation” would have no legal basis.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office responded by dismissing India’s protests against the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 and New Delhi’s claim over Jammu and Kashmir. India’s deputy high commissioner JP Singh was summoned to the foreign ministry and a demarche on the issue was handed over to him.

Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Faisal contended that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was a “disputed” territory and several UN Security Council resolutions stipulated the status of the region should be determined through a plebiscite.

“Everything from history to law to morality to the situation on the ground belies India’s spurious claim,” Faisal said in a statement. He added that “baseless Indian propaganda” about Gilgit-Baltistan would not “cover up the atrocities being perpetrated by Indian forces” or divert the world community’s attention from the situation in Kashmir.

Faisal called on India to create the conditions for implementing the UN Security Council resolutions so that “this long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan is peacefully resolved in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people”.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said the new Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 has transferred all powers to the people, who will enjoy the same rights as the residents of Pakistan’s four provinces.

“All subjects under the 18th Constitutional Amendment have been shifted to the Gilgit-Baltistan government. Yet if the Gilgit-Baltistan representatives have some more demands, we can include (them) in the order (as) our government is still left for some days,” Abbasi told a joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan assembly and council on Sunday.

However, the leader of opposition in the Assembly, Mohammad Shafi Khan, said the people had rejected the order. “How can Gilgit-Baltistan be governed through orders?” he asked, arguing that the region should be granted the same status as PoK.

A scuffle erupted between opposition and ruling party members. PML-N lawmaker Mohammad Amin and PTI legislator Raja Jahanzeb came to blows before the opposition staged a walkout. A strike was observed across Gilgit-Baltistan on the call of the opposition.

First Published: May 28, 2018 22:18 IST