The Pakistani government has finalized a draft law to grant Gilgit-Baltistan-an illegally occupied Indian territory-provincial status, according to a media report. Following its election victory in November 2020 that resulted in 22 seats in the 33-member Assembly, the PTI formed a coalition government in December. Reports indicate that Pakistan Law Minister Farogh Naseem drafted the legislation according to United Nations and international regulations.
According to the report, the draft law has been presented to Pakistan PM Imran Khan for approval. G-B Assembly had passed a resolution earlier this year requesting interim provincial status. Furthermore, it requested that the region be properly represented in the National Assembly, Senate and other federal institutions.
In 1949, the Karachi agreement separated the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir from the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. It is a clear violation of UNSC resolutions as it alters the status quo of the territory before a plebiscite. It is claimed to be signed by the leaders of the Muslim Conference and the Pakistan government. A 1993 judgment of the PoK High Court brought this agreement into the public domain.
Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Government) Order was issued by the Pakistan Peoples Party government in 2009 to give partial rights to the people. In 2009, the first Assembly elections were held for the Gilgit-Baltistan region, but most powers remained in the Gilgit-Baltistan Council headed by the Pakistani Prime Minister. According to this order, the G-B Assembly was allowed to legislate alone on 61 issues, but that list was abolished by the 2018 Gilgit-Baltistan Order.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif opposed the ‘provincial status’ plan of the PTI regime before the so-called elections in G-B last year. Clearly indicating the Pakistan Army’s role, she said, ‘It is an issue that has to be dealt with by government representatives. Such decisions should be made in Parliament rather than the General Headquarters’. As part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Pakistani military is perceived to have tightened its control over G-B.
The MEA responded to Pakistan’s attempt to alter the status quo in September 2020 by stating, ‘Any action by Pakistan to alter the status of militarily occupied Gilgit-Baltistan has no legal basis whatsoever and is void from the outset. We have always maintained a clear and consistent position. In the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the entire territory has been, is, and will remain an integral part of India. In relation to Indian internal matters, Pakistan does not have locus standi’.