India has conveyed its strong protest to Pakistan over an order by that country’s supreme court allowing the conduct of general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. The region is claimed by India as part of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ministry of External Affairs said , Pakistan was told that the entire Jammu and Kashmir and Laddakh, including areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India and that Islamabad should immediately vacate the areas under its illegal occupation.
According to a report in Pakistan’s The News website, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the federal government in Islamabad to amend the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 to conduct the general elections and set up a caretaker government during the intervening period.
A seven-member bench of the Pakistani court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed accepted the plea of the federal government, seeking to amend the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 to conduct the upcoming general elections, the report said.
To this order The Ministry of External Affairs of India said the following in its statement-
“India demarcated senior Pakistan diplomat and lodged a strong protest to Pakistan against Supreme Court of Pakistan order on the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’”.
“It was clearly conveyed that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Laddakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession,” it said.
The MEA said the government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly” occupied by it.
India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” it added to its formal statement.
The MEA said Pakistan’s recent actions can neither hide the “illegal occupation” of parts of union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Laddakh by it nor the “grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom” to the people residing in these areas for the past seven decades.
The government of India’s position in the matter is reflected in the resolution passed by the Parliament in 1994 by consensus, the statement said, referring to the resolution which states that all of Kashmir is Indian territory.
By Aadarsh Mishra of ICFAI University, Dehradun