India on Friday lodged a protest with Pakistan over its package for the Northern Areas through the “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009” and also its decision to build a power plant in a part of Jammu and Kashmir that is illegally occupied by Pakistan.

Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Rifat Masood was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs and handed over the diplomatic letter of protest.

In a statement, the Ministry emphasised that the “entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. The so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009” is yet another cosmetic exercise intended to camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation.”

It said Pakistan had for the past six decades denied basic democratic rights to the people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) . The Northern Areas, a part of PoK, are administered directly by Islamabad.

India also lodged a protest over the proposed construction of the Bunji hydroelectric project in another part of PoK. The 7,000 MW project is estimated to cost $6 billion to $7 billion and Islamabad signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing during President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to China last month.

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