India has reacted strongly to Pakistan’s decision to convert Gilgit-Baltistan area of India's state of Kashmir into its fifth province, stating that this is a very serious matter concerning India’s sovereignty and integrity.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian establishment was reacting to reports that Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzadar had said that a committee headed by Sartaj Aziz had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan. A bill to amend the constitution of Pakistan is likely to be presented in the National Assembly, its parliament.
"The position of the government on Jammu and Kashmir is consistent and well-known. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in 1947. It has been, is and will always be an integral part of India. <…> Any unilateral step by Pakistan to alter the status of that part will have no basis in law and will be completely unacceptable. It will also be a violation of the agreement between the two countries to address all issues bilaterally through peaceful means, which was enshrined in the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and reiterated through the Lahore Declaration in 1999," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay said at a press briefing on Thursday.
"Pakistan has attempted this earlier. Their main objective is to separate Gilgit-Baltistan from Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is unsure of the population of Gilgit-Baltistan as they have agitated against Pakistani establishment time and again. In fact, keeping these areas as a disputed territory is problematic for Pakistan so they want to make it their fifth province. But the fact is that Pakistani constitution has no status for Gilgit-Baltistan, " Alok Bansal, Director, Center for Security and Strategy in the Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation, told Sputnik.
Indian lawmaker D Raja told Sputnik, "Pakistan should desist from this as it will further affect peace and security in the region."
This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.