File Photo
File Photo

The Narendra Modi-led central government 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.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that his government has decided to grant the "provisional-provincial status" to Gilgit-Baltistan, a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, illegally occupied by Pakistan in 1947.

In a statement issued in New Delhi by the Ministry of External Affairs, spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: "The Government of India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation."

The government reiterated that 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.

Srivastava said that the Pakistan government has "no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied" by it. Such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its illegal occupation, cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan occupied territories, he added.

The spokesperson said that instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, Indian government calls upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan on Sunday said that he had decided to give the provisional province status to the region "keeping in mind the UN Security Council's resolutions.

"The Khan government is also holding elections in the region, where many activists have called it a Pakistani Army's fraud to grab and further occupy Gilgit-Baltistan.

Backed by the Pakistani Army, Prime Minister Khan on the occasion did not miss the opportunity to praise the military, which is facing stiff challenge from the political opposition headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

"Pakistan is secure today because of its armed forces. Our army is the main reason why we have not suffered the same fate as many other Muslim countries," he bragged.

(With IANS inputs)

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