India asserts control over Gilgit-Baltistan
India on Thursday said Pakistan’s proposed election in Gilgit-Baltistan had no legal ground. The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairsm, Anurag Srivastava, said India considered the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir to be its integral part.
“Any action by Pakistan to alter the status of the militarily occupied so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab-initio. Our position has always been clear and consistent. The entire territories of the Union Territories [UTs] of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been and are an integral part of India and would remain so”, he stated.
India considers Gilgit and Baltistan as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir. Its new political map published in November 2019 depicts the UTs of J&K and Ladakh consist of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Full provincial status
Pakistan in recent weeks has moved to give full provincial status to the Gilgit-Baltistan region through an election slated for November. The region earlier was known as the “Northern Areas” and Pakistan dealt with it through a special administrative arrangement. But granting of full provincial status will alter the political nature of the region, which has remained the same for close to seven decades. The region is strategically significant as it has a border with China and hosts a large part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Gilgit-Baltistan is also significant as it is the only part of the erstwhile princely territory of J&K with a border with Afghanistan at the Wakhan Corridor.
Asserting that Gilgit-Baltistan are internal matters of India. Mr. Srivastava said, “Pakistan has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal matters”.