India lodges protest with Pakistan over constitutional status to Gilgit-Baltistan

New Delhi: India on Friday lodged a strong protest against a recent order by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan” which is deemed as interference in India’s internal affairs, by summoning the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan here.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday gave written orders regarding the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan and granted fundamental rights to the people residing in the region.

A press statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday reiterated that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the 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,” the statement read.

“Any action to alter the status of these occupied territories by Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever,” the statement added.

India rejected such 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. Pakistan was asked to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.

The previous year in November, the Pakistan Cabinet had undertaken discussions over the provisional status of Gilgit-Baltistan, a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan gave his nod to change the region’s status to that of an interim province in principle.

Gilgit-Baltistan, a part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, has witnessed regular protests by activists over alleged human rights violations in the region. It is a part of what India refers to as Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as Pakistan broke up its part of the annexed area into two parts – ‘Azad’ Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Giving provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan will be taken as the annexation of what Pakistan calls ‘Azad’ Kashmir – The decision will be in direct conflict with Pakistan’s earlier stance on the region, which they have termed as “free”.

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