Islamabad: The government of Pakistan-held Kashmir (PoK) has reportedly lodged a strong protest against Islamabad's “attempt” to accord the country's Gilgit-Baltistan region, under which the disputed territory falls, as a province.
The country's leading newspapers The Express Tribune, Dawn and The News have reported that the government of “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” has strongly opposed the provincial status for the Gilgit-Baltistan region, saying that it will dent the “Kashmir cause”.
According to The Tribune, the treasury members of the PoK government tabled a resolution in the Legislative Assembly against the proposed status for the Gilgit-Baltistan region on Saturday.
The assembly members are expected to debate the resolution in the Assembly on January 12.
Quoting AJK Minister for Rehabilitation Abdul Majid Khan, The Tribune said that "by making Gilgit-Baltistan region as the fifth province of Pakistan will dent the Kashmir cause. “Giving provincial status to G-B will serve the interests of the enemies of Jammu and Kashmir and will therefore be counterproductive,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Endorsing Majid, AJK Minister for Finance, Planning and Development Chaudhry Latif Akbar said: “G-B is part and parcel of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Any attempt to merge it into Pakistan will deal a fatal blow to our stance in the light of the UN resolutions envisaging the right to self-determination for the Kashmiris.”
“We will not allow division of Kashmir at any cost,” ,” the report quoted him as saying at a press conference. He further said that Pakistan had been given administrative control of Gilgit-Baltistan on a temporary basis, and advised the federal government to “not think beyond that”.
He called on the Pakistani government to give the same rights to Gilgit-Baltistan that AJK and other provinces enjoy. He said the Pakistani government is conspiring against the nation and did not want to see it united.
Of late, there has been speculation on changing the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan region, which is historically claimed by India. This comes in the wake of Beijing’s concerns about building a section of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through the disputed area, the report said.
Quoting a spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, The News said on Saturday: “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the consensus reached between China and Pakistan, and has won popular support from the two peoples. The CPEC will bring development and benefits to the people of Pakistan.”
Quoting AJK Minister for Information Sardar Abid Hussain Abid, Dawn said “The territory of Gilgit-Baltistan is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and any attempt to secede it from the disputed region will deal a blow to the stand of Pakistan and Kashmiris regarding the longstanding dispute.”
“Any prudent and visionary person cannot take this step which I believe in all fairness and honesty is bound to harm the Kashmir issue beyond retrieve,” Dawn quoted Abid as saying.