Both the treasury and opposition benches in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly unanimously rejected on Thursday the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly’s resolution seeking to become province of Pakistan.
If Gilgit-Baltistan becomes a province of Pakistan, it would be counterproductive for the Kashmir cause, the AJK assembly echoed. Both Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir are parts of a disputed territory and the people have to decide their fate under the UN resolutions, the AJK Finance Minister Latif Akbar said moving a verbal resolution to condemn the G-B assembly initiative.
“We demand the G-B assembly to take back the resolution to make the area a province of Pakistan. Both G-B and AJK are not constitutionally parts of Pakistan,” Akbar said.
In this connection both the AJK Supreme Court and High Court have ruled that before the final settlement of the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir neither G-B nor AJK can be made province of Pakistan, he elaborated.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tariq Farooq said they were not expecting G-B to seek provincial status. “The people of AJK had voiced concerns when the former Pakistani government announced a chief minister and governor for G-B,” Farooq said. “The elected representatives of G-B should not take steps that will create problems for the people in future,” he added.
All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJKMC) leader and Member Legislative Assembly Malik Nawaz said that to merge it in Pakistan was unacceptable as it would dent the liberation movement of Jammu and Kashmir.
Minister for Higher Education Matloob Inqalabi said that G-B is constitutionally under AJK assembly and they have no right to announce to make it the province of Pakistan.
Fearing the breakup with AJK, Inqalabi became apologetic for ignoring the people of G-B in development and progress. “Although our (AJK) leadership had not given the G-B people their due rights, we should forget the past and work together for better future,” he said.
Inqalabi said that before making G-B a province, it will be necessary to amend the constitution of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2014.