India on Thursday strongly opposed Pakistan’s proposal to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as the country’s fifth province, saying any such attempt would have no legal basis and would be entirely unacceptable.
"Any such step would also not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan’s occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir which it must vacate forthwith," MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said at a media briefing here when his attention was drawn to reports that a committee in Pakistan, headed by Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said Pakistan would also not be able to hide the ‘tremendous and very concerning’ violation of human rights and denial of freedom which have been going on in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The Indian spokesperson said even though the contents of the said report were shrouded in secrecy, the matter pertained to the sovereignty of India and the entire state of J & K which is, has been and will be an integral part of India.
On Islamabad lodging a protest with India over the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand in the Ajmer Sharif blast case, Baglay said, "India completely rejects Pakistan’s efforts and intention to meddle in our internal affairs, including the judicial process, within our country." New Delhi, he said, also rejected the untenable link which was sought to be established by Islamabad with any other matter currently under purview of Indian courts. A strong Indian democracy and justice system obviously did not need ‘self-serving sermons’ from anybody, much less from a country like Pakistan, Baglay said. Islamabad would be well-advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of India in any form and not to resort to denial from the reality of terrorism emanating from its soil which was not only affecting India but the entire region and beyond, he added. Pakistan would do well to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in its own territory or the territory under its control and bring to justice the masterminds who continue to operate and enjoy the freedom in its own territory to commit, promote and export terrorism against its neighbours, he said.
The spokesperson did not give a straight reply when asked to comment on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s statement that India should join the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but stated that India was opposed to the project since part of it would pass through sovereign Indian territory.