India angry over Pakistan’s plan to make disputed region fifth province

Pakistan and India have been embroiled in a fresh dispute following the announcement by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan that he would declare the border region of Gilgit-Baltistan the country’s fifth province.

The strategic area bordering China and Afghanistan is part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The area is claimed by Pakistan and India, but has been under Pakistani control since the war of independence in 1947.

Gilgit-Baltistan, ruled by Pakistan’s central government for decades, has no representative in the federal parliament and cannot take cases to the Supreme Court, but making it a temporary province gives the region strong constitutional and voting rights. Increases more local autonomy and authority. Its Legislative Assembly.

“Administrative, political and economic reforms are a long-standing demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan,” the Pakistani government said in a statement.

For the state to formally become the fifth province of Pakistan, it will need to amend the constitution.

India, which claims sovereignty over the entire state of Kashmir, reacted strongly to Khan’s announcement, saying it “clearly rejects” the move. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan was part of India and that declaring the region a province of Pakistan was an attempt to touch on “illegal and forcible occupation” of the region.

Khan’s announcement is the latest in a series of tensions between India and Pakistan over the troubled Kashmir region. In August last year, India provoked Pakistan by abolishing the special semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, which is part of the Kashmir region bordering India, and bringing the state under the full control of the Indian government. For the first time since the partition.

Khan also made the announcement to the 2 million people of Gilgit-Baltistan less than a month before his election to the Legislative Assembly, which currently has very limited powers.

The move by the Prime Minister has been seen as a clear attempt to win over the voters as the economic catastrophe, record levels of inflation and rapid rise in popularity of Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) The united political opposition is declining.

Many in the region viewed the announcement with skepticism, and some saw it as a half-hearted move without a commitment to change the constitution.

Naveed Saleem, a student from Gilgit-Baltistan, said: “Khan is speaking. This temporary status is not what we asked for. Even so, Gilgit-Baltistan will not make Pakistan a constitutional part of Pakistan. We are still the prime minister.” “We can’t vote for Pakistan. We still can’t go to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It’s a joke.”

Shaan Mohammad Khan, an IT expert from the state, was similarly distrustful. “Without constitutional change, Imran Khan’s words have no meaning,” he said. As the general election approaches, they are only doing this to increase their vote bank.

The move is one that will satisfy China, Pakistan’s closest ally in particular. Beijing is pushing for greater stability and security for Gilgit-Baltistan as the region is an important part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that runs through Pakistan, which is part of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Is flagged.

“Given the depth of India-Pakistan tensions, it will definitely raise the temperature even further,” said Michael Kojelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center and a senior fellow in South Asia.

Kogelman added, “Pakistan has been trying to bring about this change for some time, and in the midst of a deep crisis with Pak-India and Indo-China relations, time is judged from a geopolitical perspective.”

“This is an opportunity for them to back down on two fronts against New Delhi: it has dealt a blow to Gilgit-Baltistan’s claim, and it gives some impetus to a CPEC business plan that India opposes. “

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