‘No rethink on Gilgit-Baltistan’

Delhi rejects Pak. move to integrate province, rebuffs comments on Assemanand

Updated - March 17, 2017 07:57 am IST

Published - March 17, 2017 01:04 am IST - NEW DELHI

Swami Assemanand

Swami Assemanand

Taking strong exception to Pakistan’s plans to turn Gilgit-Baltistan region into a province, India on Thursday asserted that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan constitutes its sovereign territory.

“The position of the government regarding Jammu and Kashmir is 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. A part of Jammu and Kashmir has been under illegal occupation of Pakistan. Any unilateral step by Pakistan to alter the status of that part will have no basis in law and will be completely unacceptable,” said the MEA pokesperson.

The response from the MEA followed reports from Pakistan that a committee has suggested integration of Gilgit-Baltistan into the federal structure of Pakistan. The recommendation is unique as despite being part of Pakistan since the first India-Pakistan war of 1947, Gilgit-Baltistan is the only geographical unit which has so far not sent members to the Pakistan National Assembly. Gilgit-Baltistan is significant for Pakistan as it hosts a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

On Wednesday, addressing a security conference in the capital, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti spoke favourably about the CPEC which passes through Gilgit-Baltistan. “China and Pakistan have economic corridor. Why can’t we be partners to the corridor? Pakistan wants us to be part of the CPEC. We should join,” Ms Mufti had said. However, the MEA reiterated its opposition to the CPEC .

Asked about Pakistan having expressed concern over acquittal of Assemanand in the Ajmer Sharif blast case, Mr. Baglay said India completely rejects Pakistan's “efforts and intention to meddle” in the country's internal affairs, including in the Indian judicial process. “We also reject the ulterior link which is sought to be established by Pakistan with any other matter under the purview of Indian courts. .”

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