Gilgit-Baltistan Order: Pak rejects India’s objection but faces domestic protests
Pakistan on Sunday, May 28, rejected India's protests against its Gilgit-Baltistan Oder 2018, saying the latter's "baseless propaganda" about the area could not cover up "atrocities being perpetrated by Indian forces against innocent and unarmed Kashmiris", Pakistan's leading daily Dawn reported.
"The government of Pakistan categorically rejects India's protest against the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 and its claim over the Indian occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir as an 'integral part' of India," the Dawn report quoted a statement issued by Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal as saying on Sunday.
Saying the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was a "disputed" territory, the spokesman added the disputed status was enshrined in the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that stipulated that the final status of the state would be determined through a free and impartial plebiscite administered by the UN. Dawn added.
He said the resolutions standing for the right to self-determination of the people of Kashmir were accepted by India, Pakistan and the international community and asked India to take steps to "vacate its illegal occupation and create conditions for faithful implementation of the UNSC resolutions" and not indulge in "frivolous protests" and issue "legally untenable and uncalled for statements", the report said.
What is Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018?
On May 21, the government of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) government formally promulgated the Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018 replacing the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009, paving way for devolution of more administrative authority and financial powers to the area. The order, approved by the Pakistani cabinet, shifted powers of the Gilgit Baltistan Council to the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly, entrusting it with authority to enact law on mineral, hydro power and tourism sectors.
Pak faces heat at home
Though the Pakistani establishment was criticising India over its objection to the order, protests broke out in 10 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan on Sunday against the order as the angry opposition called it anti-people, Pakistani media reported.
The local residents boycotted economic activities and staged protests while the opposition members raised a storm in the Gilgit Baltistan assembly. Lawyers, students and other people took to the streets to protest over the last three days.
According to the protesters, the new order was silent over the political and constitutional status of the area and called it a sham. People were also injured in clashes with the police while advancing towards the Gilgit-Baltistan assembly for a sit-in protest against the order. A couple of opposition lawmakers were also injured in police firing.
New Delhi called the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner to India Syed Haider Shah on Sunday to protest against the Pakistani government's order on Gilgit-Baltistan which also said that the area will enjoy the same rights as the country's four other provinces do.
The Ministry of External Affairs said any move to alter the status of any part of a territory which is under illegal occupation of Pakistan is illegal. It is being said that Pakistan is eyeing integration of the disputed territory with its land area to facilitate the passing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.