Pakistan Grants Provisional Provincial Status To Gilgit-Baltistan

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Srinagar- Despite protests from India and separatists in Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced the granting of provisional-provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, said media reports.

“One of the reasons for me coming to Gilgit-Baltistan is to announce that we have decided to grant Gilgit-Baltistan the provisional provincial status,” Geo news quoted Khan as saying during his visit to the region.

“This decision has been taken while keeping in view the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” Khan said.

Gilgit- Baltistan, earlier known as Northern Areas has been governed by the “Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009”, which established an electoral framework. Elections have been held in the region under the Order that provides for only limited autonomy.

Pakistan has also announced holding elections for the legislative assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan later this month.

In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region. The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorizing the Prime Minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects.

Following the verdict, India issued a demarche to a senior Pakistani diplomat here and lodged a strong protest over the apex court ruling.

The polls in Gilgit-Baltistan were to be held on August 18, but Pakistan’s election commission on July 11 postponed them due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, India rejected Pakistan’s move to accord status of province for Gilgit-Baltistan

Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anurag Srivastava said “India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad’s illegal and forcible occupation and asked the neighbouring country to immediately vacate such areas.”

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