India on Sunday summoned Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah to protest against Islamabad’s move to provide more political and administrative powers to the Gilgit-Baltistan provincial government, a region New Delhi has described as part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. On May 21, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had issued an order that took over most powers from the local Gilgit-Baltistan council, Dawn reported.
Under the new order, all powers exercised by the council were given to the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly, and federal taxes suspended. Gilgit-Baltistan Adviser on Information Shams Mir said the people of the region now enjoyed all rights enjoyed by the people of four provinces of Pakistan
On Sunday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release that it had told Shah that any measure to alter any part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir would be illegal.
India’s statement reiterated its stance that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Gilgit Baltistan area, is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. “Instead of seeking to alter the status of the occupied territories, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the statement said.
The ministry also told Shah that the order would not diminish the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom to the people residing in Pakistan-occupied territories.