India asserts sovereignty over Gilgit-Baltistan

Will not part with our territory, Sushma tells Lok Sabha

Responding to reports of a Pakistani move to declare Gilgit-Baltistan its new province, India on Wednesday asserted its territorial sovereignty over the region.

Responding to questions in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India would not part with any part of its territory.

“Even raising a doubt over this government, that it will let go of some area, will be wrong,” the Minister said. Ms. Swaraj recalled that both Houses of Parliament had passed resolutions which reiterated India’s claims over Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan and the government was bound by it. Ms. Swaraj’s statement came after BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab asked the government about its diplomatic response to Pakistan’s reported plans to make Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province.

Objection conveyed

Ms. Swaraj said India had been opposed to such a move and had communicated its objection to Pakistan soon after the news became known. India had remarked on the issue on March 16 after a special committee of the Pakistan government had suggested turning Gilgit-Baltistan into a province.

“We are bound by Parliament’s resolutions and our resolve,” Ms. Swaraj said.

“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,” an MEA spokesperson had said.

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