India lodges protest with Pakistan over 'Gilgit-Baltistan order', asks it to 'vacate areas under illegal occupation'

Through its order on Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has seized more authority from the local council to deal with the affairs of the region.

India lodges protest with Pakistan over 'Gilgit-Baltistan order', asks it to 'vacate areas under illegal occupation'
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New Delhi: India on Sunday told Pakistan that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan' areas, is its integral part by virtue of its accession in 1947.

Summoning Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah over Islamabad's so-called Gilgit-Baltistan order, the Ministry of External Affairs told him that any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under his country's forcible occupation has no legal basis.

Through its order on Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has seized more authority from the local council to deal with the affairs of the region. Civil rights groups in Pakistan have criticised the order.

"Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under the forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever and is completely unacceptable. Instead of seeking to alter the status of the occupied territories, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation," the MEA said, according to per PTI.

The ministry said it was also conveyed to the Pakistani deputy envoy that such actions can neither hide the illegal occupation of part of J&K by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom to the people residing in Pakistan-occupied territories (PoK). 

Pakistan to give greater administrative and financial authority to PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan

It was reported on May 20, 2018, that Pakistan's top civil and military leaders had decided to give greater administrative and financial authority to PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan, the region through which the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes.

During a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) - the top civil and military body - Sartaj Aziz, deputy chairman planning commission and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, was said to have briefed the committee on the PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan reform proposals on May 19, 2018, an official statement had said.

The meeting chaired by Abbasi had reviewed these proposals and after detailed deliberations, a consensus was reached on the "devolution of greater administrative authority and financial powers" to the 'PoK government' and the Gilgit-Baltistan government, as per to the statement. 

However, there was also consensus over retention of the PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan Councils as advisory bodies and the grant of a five-year tax holiday to Gilgit-Baltistan so as to create adequate incentives for the development of the region and bring it at par with the other areas of Pakistan, PTI has reported.

Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are four provinces of Pakistan.

The NSC had also endorsed that FATA shall be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with the introduction of the administrative and judicial institutional structures and laws of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Khurram Dastgir Khan, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval and Air forces, ISI chief and other senior civil and military officials.

(With Agency inputs)

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