Pakistan PM Imran Khan
Pakistan PM Imran Khan
Photo: AFP

The Centre has asked Pakistan to immediately vacate the Indian territory of Gilgit-Baltistan which the Imran Khan government declared as its provisional fifth province on Sunday.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, and is under Pakistan’s illegal occupation since 1947. Earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed the government to conduct elections in the region. However, there is huge anger in the region, which had a semi-autonomous status.

The move is meant to "camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation" of the area but it cannot "hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom" of the people for over seven decades, India said soon after the announcement.

The MEA said the government "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.

Khan made the announcement during his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan. The visit has come on the heels of Saudi Arabia removing POK and Gilgit Baltistan from Pakistan's map.

The announcement is likely to ignite massive outrage in the region; this will have much wider implications which will set the tone for exacerbating tensions that are already being played out in the east along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China border.

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