Pak SC orders govt to give more rights to people of Gilgit-Baltistan
Islamabad, Jan 18 : Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered the federal government to promulgate a new law within a fortnight to grant more rights, including fundamental human rights, to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
A seven-judge bench headed by Justice Saqib Nisar issued a detailed order Thursday in response to several petitions filed against constitutional issues and previous reforms in the region.
The bench wrote that the jurisdiction and power of the Supreme Court extend to Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi last year conveyed its stand to Pakistan that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan', is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947.
It further said that the region's courts did not have constitutional power to deal with issues within Pakistan but the people from the region will be able to challenge their top court's decisions in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
It also ordered that the people of the region should be give fundamental human rights as provided in the proposed constitutional order, which was made part of the detailed order.
Noting the international status of Kashmir, of which Gilgit-Baltistan is a part, the order said that "as and when the promised plebiscite is organized by the parties to the dispute, it will be up to the people of all of Jammu and Kashmir, and of Gilgit-Baltistan, to make their choice".
It also said until the plebiscite, "it is surely incumbent upon both India as well as Pakistan to ensure that the people of this region enjoy maximum rights for areas within each country's control".
However, it noted that until the plebiscite is held, a proper arrangement must be provided by Pakistan for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan for the purposes of governance within a framework of a constitutional nature, including most importantly the enjoyment of fundamental rights.