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Pakistan goes India way; will elevate Gilgit-Baltistan as full-fledged province

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Islamabad: After a year, government of India decided to abrogate Article 370 of Indian Constitution to merge Jammu and Kashmir fully into its union of states by bifurcating the erstwhile state into two Union Territories, Pakistan too is all set to merge Gilgit-Baltistan as fifth province of the country.

A Pakistani media report on Thursday quoted a senior minister as saying that Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province.

According to a report in the ‘Express Tribune’, Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Ali Amin Gandapur, on Wednesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon visit the region and make the formal announcement to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province with all constitutional rights.

Gandapur said Gilgit-Baltistan would be given adequate representation on all constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly and the Senate.

“After consultation with all stakeholders, the federal government has decided in principle to give constitutional rights to Gilgit-Baltistan,” the minister told reporters.

India has said the Government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly occupied” by it.

“India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in May while protesting Islamabad’s efforts to bring material change in Pakistan-administered territories.

Almost the same verbiage was used by government of Pakistan following August 05, 2019.

Gandapur also said that work on the Moqpondass Special Economic Zone would begin under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Beijing’s ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the projects were worth over USD 60 billion as of 2017.

India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-administered-Kashmir. (With PTI Inputs)

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