NEW DELHI: India lodged a strong protest on a recent order by Pakistan Supreme Court on the Gilgit-Baltistan region and summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday.
The Pakistan apex court had on Thursday ordered the federal government to promulgate a new law within a fortnight to grant more rights, including fundamental human rights, to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK. A detailed order was issued in this regard, saying that the jurisdiction and power of the Supreme Court extend to Gilgit-Baltistan.
MEA: It was reiterated that entire J&K, which also includes so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan' has been, is and shall remain an integral part of India. Pakistan Government or judiciary have no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. https://t.co/wehogVzhGZ
— ANI (@ANI) January 18, 2019
According to the MEA, a protest was lodged alleging that Pakistan was ''interfering in India’s internal affairs''. "It was reiterated that entire Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes Gilgit-Baltistan has been, is and shall remain an integral part of India. Pakistan Government or judiciary have no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it."
India rejected the "continued attempts by Pakistan to bring material change in these occupied territories and to camouflage grave human rights violations, exploitation and sufferings of the people living there." It called on Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.
The Pakistan court further said that the region's courts did not have the constitutional power to deal with issues within Pakistan but the people from the region will be able to challenge their top court's decisions in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
It also ordered that the people of the region should be given fundamental human rights as provided in the proposed constitutional order, which was made part of the detailed order.
Noting the international status of Kashmir, of which Gilgit-Baltistan is a part, the order said that "as and when the promised plebiscite is organised by the parties to the dispute, it will be up to the people of all of Jammu and Kashmir, and of Gilgit-Baltistan, to make their choice.
It also said until the plebiscite, "it is surely incumbent upon both India as well as Pakistan to ensure that the people of this region enjoy maximum rights for areas within each country's control".
However, it noted that until the plebiscite is held, a proper arrangement must be provided for by Pakistan for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan for purposes of governance within a framework of a constitutional nature, including most importantly the enjoyment of fundamental rights.
Pakistan has bifurcated occupied Kashmir into two administrative parts - Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Gilgit-Baltistan was treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan till now. Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are the four provinces of Pakistan.
India has termed as "entirely unacceptable" any possible attempt by Pakistan to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region as the fifth province.
with PTI inputs