ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan is heading towards making the official announcement of declaring GilgitBaltistan (GB) as its fifth province, heated exchange of statements has flared up between New Delhi and Islamabad. In a latest, Pakistan has "categorically rejected" the Indian Ministry of External Affairs' (MEA) statement regarding GB, stating that New Delhi has no locus standi whatsoever on the issue.
In a press release, Foreign Office spokesperson ZahidHafeezChaudhri said: "India has no locus standi whatsoever on the issue — legal, moral or historical. "For more than 73 years, India has been in illegal and forcible occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
"Regurgitation of false and fabricated claims by India can neither change the fact nor divert attention from India's illegal actions and continuing humanitarian crisis resulting from the perpetration of the worst human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK)."
Pakistan's statement came in response to MEA spokesperson AnuragSrivastava remarks, who has said that India opposed any material changes in GB claiming it to be part of Indian territory.
However, Pakistan maintains that the decision is part of what it called longstanding demand of the people of GB.
"Administrative, political and economic reforms were a longstanding demand of the people of GB. Envisaged provincial reforms reflected the aspirations of the indigenous populace of the region," Chaudhri. "Pakistan calls upon India to immediately end its illegal and forcible occupation of pans of Jammu and Kashmir and comply with its international obligations by allowing the Kashmiris to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the UN as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions," he added. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that his government will grant provincial status to GilgitBaltistan, a population of at least two million people.
"We have made a decision to grant provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, which has long been the demand here," said Khan. On the other hand, India has rejected Islamabad's decision. (IANS)