India Protests Election Announcement at Gilgit-Baltistan by Pakistan

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has stated that they have come across reports regarding elections in the “Gilgit-Baltistan” Assembly that will be held on November 15, 2020 . The ministry took a strong objection to it.

Key Facts

  • The Government of India also rejected the “Gilgit-Baltistan (Elections and Caretaker Government) Amendment Order 2020”.
  • India has rejected attempts by Pakistan to bring material changes in areas under its illegal and forcible occupation.
  • The ministry said that the government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories it has illegally and forcibly occupied.

Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan also called as the North Area is a disputed territory. But Pakistan is likely to change it after an assembly election on November 15. This will provide fuller political rights to the roughly 1.2 million residents of the region. The region will become the fifth State of Pakistan after Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the amendment that Pakistan has moved to grant full statehood to the region.

What is the Issue?

IN 2018 order, the supreme court of Pakistan allowed the amendment to the Government to conduct the general elections in the region. Now the election is going to happen in November.  India’s stand is that Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India.

Background

  • Pakistan occupied 78,114 sq km of the land of Jammu and Kashmir, including the ‘Northern Areas’, during the first Indo-Pak war.
  • Pakistan was governing the Gilgit-Baltistan directly from the central authority. The region was separated from ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’.
  • Pakistan gave away 5,180 sq km of the region to China, despite local protests in 1963.
  • Under Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a new name Federally Administered Northern Areas was given to the region.
  • Now, the region is going to become Pakistan’s fifth state.

Importance of the region

  • It is rich with mines of gold, emerald and strategically important minerals.
  • The region is known for its extraordinary scenic beauty, diversity, ancient communities and languages.
  • It is home to K-2 which is the second tallest mountain in the world.
  • The region is water-rich where biggest hydroelectricity project Diamer-Bhasha dam was launched in July 2020.

India’s stand

After Pakistan’s announcement of holding the legislative election in Gilgit-Baltistan, India have claimed her territorial sovereignty over the region. Ministry said that the election have no legal basis. India has been opposing Pakistan’s activities in Gilgit-Baltistan since long. It recently opposed the Diamer-Bhasha dam project. India has also objected to build and operate the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the region.

India’s recent steps to claim the region

India launched its new political map in 2019 that showed the Gilgit-Baltistan region as part of the new Union Territory of Ladakh. Though, In response to this, Pakistan claimed the whole Jammu and Kashmir in its map.