Granting provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan is nothing but "lollipop", says Shaukat Ali Kashmiri

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Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled Chairman UKPNP, in a virtual interaction with Dr Shabir Choudhry in programme
Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled Chairman UKPNP, in a virtual interaction with Dr Shabir Choudhry in programme

London [UK], November 18 (ANI): The granting of provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is nothing but a "lollipop" that for the past 70 years the Islamabad government has been giving in the name of different schemes, said Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled Chairman United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP).

Speaking during a virtual online programme "My Voice", he said that the election in the Gilgit-Baltistan region has never been fair nor transparent.

"In Gilgit-Baltistan, the legislative assembly seats are 33 but elections are held for only 24 seats. The Pakistan constitution's Schedule 4 is written to tackle the extremists, terrorists in Pakistan. However, unfortunately, this Schedule is used to suppress voices of people demanding rights in Balochistan, Sindh, Gilgil-Baltistan or so-called Azad Kashmir," he told Dr Shabir Choudhry, who is President of Foreign Affairs Committee of United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP).

"In Gilgit-Baltistan, the local political party leaders activists have named under Schedule 4, thus, curtailing their freedom of movement. This prevented the local leaders to stand in elections. The elections in GB was never fair, transparent," he said.

He further said that in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir the political leaders voicing demands of democracy are put behind bars or dealt with strong hands.

Speaking on the recently-held Gilgit-Baltistan elections, the UKPNP leader said the Pakistan Prime Minister has violated the law of the region by granting provincial status to the region after the schedule for the elections were announced.

"After the election schedule is announced no Minister can announce any scheme of that region. However, the PM went to Gilgit-Baltistan and announced it as a province. Similarly, several local media reports revealed pre-poll rigging being done in the region," he said.

Replying to a question of whether the Gilgit-Baltistan see changes after becoming a province, Kashmiri said, "For past 70 years the lollipop is being given by the Pakistan government in the name of different schemes.

Until Article 1 is changed in the Assembly, no changes can be made in the disputed areas of Jammu and Kashmir."

"Besides, Balochistan is also a province but the people have not been given any rights. In Pakistan, there are several provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, etc where the developments are yet to be seen. Hence, making a province is not the solution. The Pakistan government needs to give the citizens their rights," he said.

He further said that Pakistan is a country "made for the military".

"Army's involvement in politics is there. Here, the policies are not long term but day-to-day. They only have one long-term policy that is to give safe haven to the terrorists which is why it is still in FATF, he added. (ANI)