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Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan given provincial status by Pakistan; India objects

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced the granting of provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. The decision came amid the ongoing protests against the government of Pakistan on its decision to change the status of the region.

During his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan, Imran Khan said that one of the reasons for him to visit Gilgit-Baltistan is to announce the granting of provisional-provincial status to it. His decision comes after Saudi Arabia removed Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir from Pakistan’s map. Massive protests are ongoing in Pakistan over the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan against the government of Imran Khan.

It is expected that the announcement will spark outrage as it will have deep consequences in the India-China border standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and Student Liberation Front organized a massive protest in Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). This protest was organized on October 8 against the government’s decision to make Gilgit-Baltistan a province.

Political activists in the region say that they won’t let Pakistan change the status of the region even if they have to sacrifice themselves. People from Gilgit-Baltistan who are now living in other Pakistani areas, have also come to the streets to protest against Pakistan’s decision.

Gilgit-Baltistan was earlier known as Northern Areas. It was governed by the “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and self-governance order of 2009”, which established an electoral framework for the region. Elections have been conducted in the region only under limited autonomy.

People in the region accuse that Pakistan has been systematically exploiting resources from the region and it offers no benefits to the people of the region. Any resistance to the government’s actions is countered by the arrest and torture of the leaders and activists.

Reacting to the situation, the Ministry of External Affairs of India said that the Government of India has conveyed its strong protest to the reports of the announcement regarding announcement of the elections to be held on November 15 of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly. According to Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India in 1947, areas of J&K including Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of India. 

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