Protests in Pak over Gilgit order

Peshawar, May 27: Several people have been injured in Pakistan in clashes between police and protesters during a demonstration against the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan order, media reports said today.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has seized more authority from the local council to deal with the affairs of the disputed region through the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 which was passed on May 21.
The order is seen as Islamabad’s efforts towards incorporating the disputed region as its fifth province.
Police fired teargas shells and resorted to aerial firing in Gilgit yesterday to stop protesters approaching towards Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly for a scheduled sit-in against the newly introduced order, sources reported.
Politicians, cutting across party lines, held protest rallies across Gilgit-Baltistan demanding constitutional rights for the region.
The Gilgit-Baltistan Government has promulgated the Gilgit-Baltistan Order-2018, which replaced the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009.
However, the new order has failed to impress local politicians who announced region-wide protests.
“We will continue our sit-in outside the Assembly till this package is revoked and we are given Constitutional rights,” said Awami Action Committee (AAC) Chairman Sultan Raees.
Civil rights groups in Pakistan have also criticised the order.
Pakistan has bifurcated occupied Kashmir into two administrative parts – Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Gilgit-Baltistan was treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan untill now.
Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are the four provinces of Pakistan.
A Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Abbasi on Tuesday, was informed that Gilgit-Baltistan Council will be retained as advisory body towards the functions of the Federal Government.
China’s controversial USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through the disputed region.
It is believed that China’s concerns about the unsettled status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to change its status.
Dawn reported that under the new order, all powers exercised by the Gilgit Baltistan council, including passing legislation regarding mineral, hydropower and tourism sectors, have been shifted to the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, India today summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strong protest over Islamabad’s latest move relating to administrative authority over the Gilgit-Baltistan region, saying any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under its “forcible and illegal occupation” has no legal basis.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it conveyed to Shah that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ areas, is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947.
It said the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan to India was summoned and a strong protest was made against Pakistan’s so-called “Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018”.
“Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever, and is completely unacceptable. Instead of seeking to alter the status of the occupied territories, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the MEA said.
The Ministry said it was also conveyed to the Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner that such actions can neither hide the “illegal occupation” of part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir nor the “grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom” to the people residing in Pakistan-occupied territories for the past seven decades.
“Government of India’s consistent position in the matter is reflected in the resolution passed by the Parliament in 1994 by consensus,” it said.
In the wake of increasing cross-border terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, Parliament had adopted the resolution in February that year emphasising that the State was an integral part of India, and Pakistan must vacate parts of it which it had occupied illegally. (PTI)


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