Pakistan’s move to name Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province is meant to “camouflage its illegal occupation” of the area but it cannot “hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom” that the people there had to suffer for over seven decades, India said. “We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the foreign ministry said as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced provisional provincial status for Gilgit-Baltistan this afternoon.
Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of Jammu and Kashmir, but Pakistan had illegally occupied it after partition in 1947. Islamabad had later divided the region into two parts – Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
“The Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the area of so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan”, are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
The government said it “firmly rejects” Pakistan’s attempt “to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation”.
“Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the ministry said.