New Delhi: In a sharp reaction to Islamabad’s reported move to make strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan a province, India on Thursday said the entire Jammu and Kashmir including Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is its integral part.
“We have seen recent media reports stating that various options are under consideration in Pakistan regarding the political status of Gilgit-Baltistan. India’s position is crystal clear on this. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir which includes areas currently under Pakistan’s occupation is an integral part of Union of India,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Gilgit-Baltistan is strategically located and provides the only land link with China. The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is also proposed to pass through the area, which India objects due to the disputed status of the region.
He said India’s concerns are regarding “exploitation of resources” and implementation of economic projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are well known and have been shared with all the countries and organisations concerned. There were reports that Pakistan was planning to make Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province.
Elections were held in Gilgit-Baltistan region in June last year. India had objected to the elections strongly, saying it is an attempt by Pakistan to “camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation” of the regions which are its integral part.