Islamabad, March 9
The Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan on Tuesday unanimously adopted a joint resolution asking the federal Pakistan government to grant it provincial status and provide it with representation in Parliament and other constitutional bodies.
The resolution was moved in the Legislative Assembly by Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan who represented the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He was joined in tabling the resolution by Opposition leader Amjad Hussain from Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) representative Ghulam Muhammad, Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) member Muhammad Kazim and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F’) leader Rehmat Khaliq.
India has previously slammed Pakistan’s attempt to accord provincial status to the “so-called Gilgit-Baltistan”, saying it is intended to camouflage the “illegal” occupation of the region by Islamabad.
The leaders of Gilgit-Baltistan on Tuesday demanded that the government of Pakistan give the region provisional provincial status and provide it with representation in Parliament and other constitutional bodies.
The resolution stated that a bill to amend the Constitution of Pakistan to declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan should be passed by Parliament without causing any damage to the country’s stance on the Kashmir issue.
“The demand for constitutional rights is a unanimous demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, not that of an individual/party. The unity we’ve shown on this issue needs to be repeated again at a federal level,” Chief Minister Khan said.
In December, Prime Minister Khan constituted a 12-member committee to make recommendations about changing the status of Gilgit-Baltistan.
On November 1 last year, Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) 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 it to immediately vacate such areas.
He made the remarks in response to a media query about Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s comments about his government’s decision to accord “provisional provincial status” to the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
“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 MEA spokesperson said.
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.
“Such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its 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,” Srivastava said.
“Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” he said. PTI