India lodges protest on Gilgit-Baltistan
India has conveyed its strong protest to Pakistan over its efforts to bring “material change” to territories under its “illegal and forcible” occupation after the country's top court allowed holding of elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. The Ministry of External Affairs said a demarche was issued to a senior Pakistani diplomat lodging a strong protest over the court ruling and clearly conveying that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India.
- It was further conveyed that such actions can neither hide the illegal occupation of parts of Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom to the people residing in Pakistan occupied territories for the past seven decades.
- In a recent ruling, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region.
- India demarched senior Pakistan diplomat and lodged a strong protest to Pakistan against Supreme Court of Pakistan order on the so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan', the MEA said in a statement.
- The MEA said the government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories "illegally and forcibly" occupied by it.
- India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The MEA said Pakistan's recent actions can neither hide the "illegal occupation" of parts of union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh by it nor the "grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom" to the people residing in these areas for the past seven decades.
- India’s position in the matter is reflected in the resolution passed by the Parliament in 1994 by consensus.
What is Gilgit-Baltistan Order-2018?
- Pakistan had changed the legal status of Gilgit-Baltistan first in 2009 by introducing Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order-2009 which changed its name from Northern Areas to Gilgit-Baltistan.
- Under this arrangement, it was given a province-like status with the appointment of a chief minister and governor for self-rule. Thus, constitutionally it still remained out of Pakistan.
- In May 2018, the Gilgit-Baltistan Order-2018 was passed, replacing the earlier order. This was seen as yet another attempt by the Pakistan government towards incorporating the disputed region as its fifth province.
- Gilgit-Baltistan is a region administered by Pakistan as an administrative territory, and constituting the northern portion of the larger Kashmir region which has been the subject of a dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947 and between India and China from somewhat later.
- It is the northernmost territory administered by Pakistan. It borders Azad Kashmir to the south, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, the Xinjiang region of China, to the east and northeast, and the Indian-administered union territories Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the southeast.