Pakistani action in Gilgit Baltistan illegal and unconstitutional: UKPNP President Dr Shabir Choudhry
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to make Gilgit-Baltistan a ‘fifth province’ of Pakistan is illegal and unconstitutional, and clearly against the UN Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, according to Dr Shabir Choudhry, President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of United Kashmir Peoples National Party (UKPNP).
This decision has proven that Pakistan was never a well-wisher, an advocate or an Ambassador of the people of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
“Pakistani designs became apparent when they violated the Standstill Agreement and launched a military operation to occupy Kashmir on 22 October 1947. The Pakistani policy on Jammu and Kashmir has always been that of an imperial power. However, they were shrewd enough to use the name of religion to fool people of Pakistan and people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Dr Choudhry said.
Once again, he added, Pakistan is fooling people in the name of development.
“Balochistan is a province of Pakistan, what development have they made there? They have looted and plundered resources of Balochistan to enrich themselves, and people of Balochistan are suffering immensely,” he said.
On Sunday, Pakistan PM Imran Khan said that his government had taken the decision to turn Gilgit Baltistan into a province, “keeping in mind the UN Security Council’s resolutions.”
Gilgit-Baltistan is located in the far north of Pakistan, at the intersection between the Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountain ranges. It is home to some of the highest mountain peaks in the world, including K2, the world’s second-highest mountain.
Currently, the territory is nominally governed by the legislative assembly, for which elections are due on November 15, but that body has few legal powers and the region remains largely governed directly by the federal government in Islamabad.
Dr Choudhry said that if the Pakistan government wanted to empower people of Gilgit Baltistan and carry out development programmes, “they could have done that in 73 years of their occupation”.
“To develop a region, one doesn’t need constitutional changes. What is required for development and to empower people is a clean heart and will, which is absent. If Imran Khan had any sympathy with people of Gilgit Baltistan, then he could have declared to abolish Schedule Four, which restricts fundamental rights of the people; and other anti-people laws which allow secret agencies to curb fundamental rights of the people,” he said.
He added: “Imran Khan could have declared to release all political prisoners, like Baba Jan and dozens of other people imprisoned for demanding fundamental rights.
“He could have declared that people of Gilgit Baltistan will have a big say in the CPEC projects, and that they will be empowered and appropriately trained and educated to play an important role in matters related to the CPEC. Additionally, he could have declared that Gilgit Baltistan will have royalty of dams and the CPEC projects that the local people can benefit.”
He further said that the people of Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani occupied Jammu and Kashmir should take note of this and formulate appropriate policies to fight back Pakistani imperialism.
“By doing what they have done in Gilgit Baltistan, and in Jammu and Kashmir, they have totally exposed themselves. What suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir have endured since 1947, and especially after 1988, that is as a direct of wrong policies of Pakistan, and we need to learn from that,” he said.
“People of Pakistani occupied Jammu and Kashmir need to understand Pakistani collaboration in messing up the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and subsequently ‘resolving’ future of other regions. After they have finished with Gilgit Baltistan, their next target will be so-called Azad Kashmir,” he asserted.
In view of the looming threat, he said, the Prime Minister of the so-called Azad Kashmir needs to formulate appropriate policies, and may consider visiting Britain where more than one million citizens of Azad Kashmir reside.