London: A motion has been tabled in the UK parliament condemning Pakistan’s “arbitrary” move to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, as its fifth province.
Bob Blackman, an MP of the ruling Conservative Party, who regularly speaks out in support of the rights of Kashmiri Pandits in the House of Commons, tabled the Early Day Motion titled ‘Annexation of Gilgit-Baltistan as by Pakistan as its fifth frontier’ on March 23.
These motions are formally tabled in the House of Commons as a means of drawing attention to a particular issue or cause. The motion said that Gilgit-Baltistan has been illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.
The motion reads: “That this House condemns the arbitrary announcement by Pakistan declaring Gilgit-Baltistan as its Fifth Frontier… Gilgit-Baltistan is a legal and constitutional part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India, which is illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947, and where people are denied their fundamental rights including the right of freedom of expression.”
It further criticised Pakistan’s attempts to change the demography of the region in violation of State Subject Ordinance, and forcibly and illegally building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Other British lawmakers are expected to sign the motion during the course of this week as a show of support. A spokesperson for Mr Blackman’s office indicated that a formal debate on the issue is also likely to be proposed in coming weeks.
Pakistan’s minister for inter-provincial coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada on March 14 told Pakistani media that a committee headed by their Advisor for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.
He also said that a constitutional amendment would be made to change the status of the region, through which the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes.
India has termed as “entirely unacceptable” any possible attempt by Pakistan to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region, bordering disputed PoK, as the fifth province. The Ministry of External Affairs said any such step would not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan’s occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir.