New Delhi, November 1: The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sharply reacted to the Pakistan government's move to accord provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. The disputed region, which is considered as an extension of Ladakh, was federally administered by Islamabad over the past seven decades. By designating GB as a separate province, Islamabad is attempting to hide its "illegal occupation", said the MEA. Imran Khan Announces Provisional Provincial Status to Gilgit-Baltistan Amid Massive Protests Against Pakistan Govt.
"Government of India firmly rejects attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation. I reiterate Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh, including Gilgit-Baltistan, are an integral part of India," said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
The Indian foreign minister further accused Pakistan of committing excesses against locals in GB, undermining their right to freedom and the violating their human rights over the past 70 years.
"Such attempts, intended to camouflage Pak's illegal occupation, can't hide grave human rights violations and denial of freedom for over seven decades to people residing in these Pakistan-occupied territories," the MEA spokesperson added.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan went ahead with announcing GB as a separate province despite opposition back at home. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also the chief of Pakistan Democratic Movement - an amalgamation of 11 opposition parties - said the move will weaken the "cause of Kashmir".
“A deal has been made over the blood of Kashmiris... Business is being done in the name of Kashmir diplomacy,” the cleric said, adding that he would “not allow the partition of Kashmir".