New Delhi, April 5 – After the federal cabinet of Pakistan approved the merger of tribal areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa province last month, India on Wednesday said that any attempt to alter the status of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is completely unacceptable.
“The government has seen reports that a committee headed by Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan has recommended that the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ area of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is under illegal occupation of Pakistan, be given ‘provisional provincial status’,” Minister of State for External Affairs VK. Singh stated in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
“It is our consistent position that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under the illegal and forcible occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever and is completely unacceptable,” he said.
The federal cabinet of Pakistan last month accorded approval to the recommendations of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) reforms committee, which included the merger of the tribal areas with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and repeal of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).
Chairing the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the people of FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir would be given their due rights.
Sartaj Aziz , Advisor on Foreign Affairs to the Pakistan Prime Minister, said necessary amendments would be made in the constitution to enable the people of FATA to elect their representatives to the assembly in the 2018 general elections.
In his statement on Wednesday, Singh said that “Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation”.
“Further, any step to alter the status of Pakistan-occupied territory cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom in these areas,” he stated.
“Our position in this matter has been made clear to international interlocuters.”