Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday slammed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government after it announced granting of provisional-provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. Singh added that Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, is an integral part of India.
Taking to Twitter, Rajnath Singh wrote in Hindi, "Pakistan has illegally occupied Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan is going to make it a province now. Our government has clarified that Gilti-Baltistan, along with entire PoK, is an integral part of India."
“We never wanted the Partition of India, but it happened. The Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists which were left in Pakistan, you know how they are being treated. We have brought a law for these persecuted minorities,” the Defence Minister said in a subsequent tweet.
Rajnath Singh's comment comes a day after Imran Khan on Sunday announced the granting of provisional-provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. The decision was taken amid massive protests against the government. "One of the reasons for me coming to Gilgit-Baltistan is to announce that we have decided to grant Gilgit-Baltistan the provisional provincial status," Khan said while speaking during his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Meanwhile, India on Sunday strongly protested against Pakistan's move. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India "firmly rejects" the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad's "illegal and forcible occupation" and asked the neighbouring country to immediately vacate such areas.
"I reiterate 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," the MEA spokesperson said.
He said the government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories "illegally and forcibly" occupied by it and that the latest move will not be able to hide the "grave" human rights violations in these Pakistan occupied territories.
"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," Srivastava said.
"Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation," he said.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)