March 27, 2017

Gilgit-Baltistan: Pakistan Criticised by UK Parliament for Claims over Disputed Region

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

The British Parliament has denounced Islamabad, following its assertion that Gilgit-Baltistan is Pakistan’s fifth province. Members of Parliament acknowledged that Pakistani-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory where local populations suffer human rights abuses and vocal dissent is repressed through violence. Concerns extended to the building and implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would exacerbate the already-devastated condition of human rights in the region. Activists in Balochistan and Sindh have condemned the plans Islamabad and Beijing have for CPEC.

 

The article below was published by The Huffington Post: India:

A motion was passed in the British Parliament condemning Islamabad's announcement declaring Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth frontier, saying the region is a legal and constitutional part of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.

The motion which was tabled on 23 March [2017] and sponsored by Conservative Party leader Bob Blackman, stated that Pakistan by making such an announcement is implying its attempt to annex the already disputed area.

"Gilgit-Baltistan is a legal and constitutional part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India, which is illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947, and where people are denied their fundamental rights including the right of freedom of expression," the motion read.

It was further noted that the attempts to change the demography of the region was in violation of State Subject Ordinance and the 'forced and illegal construction' of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) further aggravated and interfered with the disputed territory.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry has said that Beijing was ready to work with Islamabad to take forward the CPEC to benefit the people of both countries.

The CPEC is a 51.5 billion dollar project that aims to connect Kashgar, in China's western province of Xinjiang, with the port of Gwadar in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

Baloch political and human rights activists have demanded a special rapporteur in the United Nations to probe gross human rights violations in Balochistan province.

With Pakistan planning to declare Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth province, the Baloch leaders have warned Islamabad of serious repercussions stating that this development will only lead to massive resistance by the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The Gilgit-Baltistan area is Pakistan's northernmost administrative territory that borders the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

A committee headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz recommended to grant the region a provincial status, reports the GeoNews.

Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are four provinces of Pakistan.

However, India claims the Gilgit-Baltistan area as an integral part of its territory.

The area is significant to both Pakistan and China as the $46 billion CPEC passes through the region.

New Delhi has fervently maintained that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes areas currently under Pakistan occupation, is an integral part of the Union of India.