Srinagar: Days after Pakistan announced dates for assembly elections in in Gilgit-Baltistan, part of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the former Hurriyat Conference Chairman and ailing separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani on Saturday said that any changes in the status quo of the Pakistan-controlled region will have “disastrous consequences” on long pending Kashmir issue.
In a statement issued by Geelani’s representative Saiyyed Abdullah Gilani said that the entire territory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan is a “disputed region” and its permanent status can be determined only through a free and fair plebiscite under the aegis of the United Nations.
“This is the position the United Nations has taken and maintained through its several resolutions and all the parties to the dispute, that is, Pakistan, India and Kashmiri people have also agreed to it,” he said.
Geelani’s representative alleged that over these years, India backtracked from its commitment and continued to keep Kashmir under its “illegal occupation through oppression and repression”, while Pakistan and Kashmiri people have firmly stuck to their position and remained on the same page in respect to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
“Pakistan’s policy to abstain from consolidating any part of the Kashmir territory under its control and maintaining the status quo has been in line with both the aspirations on the Kashmiri people and the spirit of the UN resolutions,” Gilani said.
“In fact, it has played a vital role in keeping the Kashmir dispute alive on the UN agenda. However, the recent unfortunate decision to grant Gilgit and Baltistan the status of a provincial province represent a major shift in Pakistan’s so far consistent policy,” he added.
The ailing leader’s representative further said that while the local population in Gilgit and Baltistan may have some genuine grievances and concerns and Pakistan is duty bound to address them, he believes the purpose could have been efficiently and sufficiently served without altering the status quo.
“The move, in our view, is laden with disastrous consequences. Pakistan risks not only weakening its position and losing moral high ground but also demoralizing Kashmiri people and debilitating their ongoing struggle for the right to self-determination,” he said.
Terming the move to grant provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan as unfortunate and unwise, Gilani said that Pakistan was handing India a baton to beat it with vis-à-vis August 5, 2019 decision.
“India would welcome this opportunity as a blessing in disguise and use it to justify its August 5, 2019 decision of revoking Kashmir’s special status and merging it,” he said.
Gilani, who was recently nominated as the representative of the ailing leader, urged the government of Pakistan to rethink the decision granting provisional provincial status to Gilgit and Baltistan keeping in view all aspects, particularly, the possible “detrimental repercussions” it would have on the future of Kashmir as a “dispute and, consequently, on its final settlement”.
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