In a vindication of India’s long-standing stance, Britain’s Parliament has adopted a resolution denouncing Pakistan’s move to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province, and asserted that the region is a legal and constitutional part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.
Interestingly, the resolution also attacked the “forced and illegal construction” of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, saying it further aggravated and interfered with the nature of the territory. The $51.5 billion corridor project aims at connecting Kashgar in China’s western province of Xinjiang with the port of Gwadar in Pakistani province of Balochistan. India has opposed the CPEC on grounds that the project, as it is conceived now, passes through the disputed territory in Kashmir, and hence amounts to impinging on the country’s sovereignty.
The motion, tabled on March 23 and sponsored by Conservative Party leader Bob Blackman, said that Pakistan, by making such a move, is implying its attempt to annex the already area.
“Gilgit-Baltistan is a legal and constitutional part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India, which is illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947 and where people are denied their fundamental rights including the right of freedom of expression,” the motion read.
The resolution noted that attempts to change the demography of the region was in violation of State Subject Ordinance.
The Gilgit-Baltistan area has been under Pakistan’s control since it invaded Jammu and Kashmir soon after the partition of India in 1947.
The British parliament’s resolution assumes significance as it came after a committee in Pakistan, headed by Sartaj Aziz, the Foreign Affairs Advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan region be declared the fifth province of Pakistan. Pakistan has four provinces – Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier Province).
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