India has slammed Pakistan’s plan to convert Pakistan occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) Gilgit Baltistan as the 5th province of the country. The development comes after Pakistani PM Imran Khan today announced that his government plans to accord “provisional provincial status” to the region.
The Ministry of external affairs in a strongly worded statement said, India “firmly rejects” the attempt by Pakistan to bring “material changes” to a “part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation” and reiterated that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are an “integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession” of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947.
Adding further that “Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it.” and such attempts by the country “intended to camouflage its illegal occupation” cannot hide the “grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan occupied territories.”
This is the first time Imran Khan has publically announced his intention to announce the area as a province of Pakistan, and it was expected to draw a strong reaction from New Delhi.
New Delhi also called on Pakistan that, “instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories”, Islamabad should “immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”
What is to be seen, is if China will reach out to United Nations on Pakistani action, given that in 2019 Beijing had gone to the New York-based body after India removed the special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan has 4 provinces as of now–most populated Punjab, the southern Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bordering Afghanistan and the largest one, also resource-rich Balochistan.