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Pak rejects Indian protest against Gilgit-Baltistan Order

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Summons India's Deputy envoy, issues him demarche

Islamabad, May 28: Pakistan has rejected India’s protests over its latest move on exercising administrative authority on the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region, saying New Delhi’s “spurious” claim over Jammu and Kashmir contradicts everything from history to the situation on the ground.

Pakistan cabinet on May 21 approved Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 which was also endorsed by the assembly for the region. The order is being seen as Islamabad’s efforts towards incorporating the disputed region as its fifth province.

Pakistan today summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh and issued a demarche over the Indian statement that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the Gilgit-Baltistan areas, “is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947”.

India yesterday summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest over Islamabad’s latest move, saying any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under its “forcible and illegal occupation” has no legal basis.

The Ministry of External Affairs said it conveyed to Shah that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the “so-called Gilgit-Baltistan areas, is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947”.

Commenting on India’s remarks, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal today said that Singh was summoned on the issue.

Faisal, who is also the Director General (South Asia & South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) issued the demarche to Singh.

Singh was summoned “to register Pakistan’s categorical rejection of the Indian statement on the Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018 and its baseless, fallacious claim” over Kashmir, according to a statement issued by Faisal’s office.

It said a written demarche to this effect was also handed over to Singh.

The Foreign Office spokesman in a statement yesterday claimed that the “Jammu and Kashmir was a disputed territory”.

“Pakistan categorically rejects India’s protest against the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 and its claim over Jammu & Kashmir as an ‘integral part’ of India. Everything from history to law to morality to the situation on the ground belies India’s spurious claim,” the spokesman said.

“These resolutions, pledging the right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir, were accepted by India, Pakistan and the international community,” he said, referring to UN Security Council resolutions.

The spokesman said that Pakistan as a responsible member of the international community, had always taken steps consistent with UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir dispute.

“The latest measure is no exception, as its aim is to further empower the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. We will continue to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions until this dispute is finally resolved through peaceful means,” he said.

Pakistan has bifurcated Kashmir in its control into two administrative parts – Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. Gilgit-Baltistan was treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan till now.

China’s controversial USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through the disputed region.

It is believed that China’s concerns about the unsettled status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to change its status.

Pak PM rejects Opposition protest over Gilgit-Baltistan Order

Islamabad, May 28: Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has rejected the Opposition’s protest against a new order relating to administrative control over Gilgit-Baltistan, saying he has no authority over the region after the devolution of all the powers to local representatives.

Pakistan’s Cabinet on May 21 approved Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 which was also endorsed by the assembly of the region. The order is being seen as Islamabad’s efforts towards incorporating the disputed region as its fifth province.

Civil rights groups in Pakistan have criticised the order. A complete strike was observed across Gilgit-Baltistan yesterday on the call of the joint Opposition to protest against the order.

The order has also sparked several protests in the region.

Abbasi said that under the order, all the powers have been transferred to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who will enjoy similar rights which the people of other provinces have without any discrimination.

He said his government was ready to accommodate more demands from the representatives of the area.

Abassi said that he as well as minister for Kashmir Affairs had no authority over the region after the devolution of powers.

“From today I as the prime minster and Barjees Tahir as federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan have become powerless as far as the affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan are concerned. All the powers have been shifted to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and no one can abolish the powers which we have transferred to them,” Abassi said while addressing a joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Assembly and GB Council yesterday.

He said once powerful GB Council would function as an advisory body only.

He said he was amazed that some opposition parties were protesting against the law.

“If they had listened, they would have noticed that all powers had already been transferred to local representatives under the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018,” he said.

When Abbasi was about to start his speech, Leader of the Opposition in GB Assembly Mohammad Shafi Khan stood up from his seat and interrupted the CM to say Gilgit-Baltistan people had principally rejected the order.

“How can GB be governed through orders?” he asked.

Khan announced that the opposition parties had decided principally not to accept any order without constitutional protection.

During the protest, a scuffle erupted between the opposition and ruling party members. The opposition parties later staged a walkout.

Following the walkout by the opposition, the prime minister began his speech.

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