India on Friday summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner to lodge a strong protest on a recent order by the Pakistan Supreme Court that extended its jurisdiction over Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which is “an interference in India’s internal affairs”.
“It was reiterated that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ has been, is and shall remain an integral part of India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement. “The Pakistan government or judiciary have no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. Any action to alter the status of these occupied territories by Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever.”
The development came a day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court directed the government to promulgate a new law within a fortnight to grant more rights to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, according to Dawn. It ruled that the top court’s jurisdiction would also extend to the region.
The Ministry of External Affairs asked Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation. “India rejected such continued attempts by Pakistan to bring material change in these occupied territories and to camouflage grave human rights violations, exploitation and sufferings of the people living there,” it added.
The court’s order clarified that no changes will be made to the current state of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir and that the constitutional status of these areas will be determined through a referendum. It said that both India and Pakistan were responsible for giving more rights to people living in areas under their control and until the referendum takes place, Pakistan would give the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as many rights as possible.