The government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has decided to lodge a protest against any attempt to convert Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) into a province of Pakistan.
Treasury members tabled a resolution against the proposed provincial status for G-B in the AJK Legislative Assembly Secretariat on Saturday. The assembly members will debate the resolution in the session scheduled for January 12.
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Talking to The Express Tribune, AJK Minister for Rehabilitation Abdul Majid Khan said that making G-B the fifth province of Pakistan will dent the Kashmir cause. “Giving provincial status to G-B will serve the interests of the enemies of Jammu and Kashmir and will therefore be counterproductive,” he said.
AJK Minister for Finance, Planning and Development Chaudhry Latif Akbar endorsed Majid. “G-B is part and parcel of the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” he told a news conference at the AJK Prime Minister’s House. “Any attempt to merge it into Pakistan will deal a fatal blow to our stance in the light of the UN resolutions envisaging the right to self-determination for the Kashmiris,” he said.
Terming Gilgit a constitutional part of Kashmir, Akbar said, “We will not allow division of Kashmir at any cost.” He pointed out that Pakistan had been given administrative control of G-B on a temporary basis, and advised the federal government to “not think beyond that”.
He called upon the government to give the same rights to G-B that AJK and other provinces enjoy. He said the establishment was conspiring against the nation and did not want to see it united.
Majid also urged the federal government to empower the people of G-B.
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In recent days, there has been speculation on changing the constitutional status of G-B, which is historically claimed by India. This comes in the wake of Beijing’s concerns about building a section of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through the disputed area.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.