New Delhi, Oct 3 : On January 16, 1948, in the 228th meeting of the Security Council, Sir Mohammad Zafrullah Khan, the then Pakistan Foreign Minister and a delegate to the UN, made it clear that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In March 1963, the Pakistan Foreign Minister Z.A. Bhutto, wrote to the President of the Security Council saying: "It is necessary for me to point out the evident fact that the territory of Jammu and Kashmir is not a part, integral or otherwise, of the territory of the Union. The territory of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to the people of Jammu and Kashmir." Last year, a seven-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court Mian Saqib Nisar, while sealing the UN resolution on the Kashmir issue, also declared Gilgit-Baltistan a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
A resolution unanimously adopted by the leadership of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) assembly in 2014 mentioned: "Making Gilgit-Baltistan a fifth province will weaken Pakistan's national stand on Jammu and Kashmir at the international level." Political parties like Muslim League Nawaz, Muslim Conference, Peoples Party of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir Peoples Party and others also joined in sending a loud and clear message that "making Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan will have disastrous consequences for the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir." Even the separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Mohammad Yasin Malik had in March 2016 opposed a similar proposal which was being floated by Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Pakistan's minister for inter-provincial coordination reasoning that "any proposal to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth province of Pakistan is unacceptable as it tantamount to changing the disputed nature of Kashmir".
Despite knowing the political, geographical, economical, and strategic implications of dabbling with the status of the Gilgit Baltistan region, Imran Khan, at the behest of his bosses in the Pakistani army, has gone ahead with his plan to elevate the region to fifth providence of Pakistan. Ali Amin Gandapur, Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, had announced the same on September 17.
But, the move boomeranged on the very first attempt. Khan and the military establishment are facing a stiff resistance as the people of the region have come out in large numbers to oppose the proposal straightaway.
Manzoor Parwana, Chairman of Gilgit-Baltistan United Front, told IndiaNarrative.com: "If you want to make a province, negotiate with the nationalists. Not with the political parties like Tehreek-e-Insaf and Muslim League-N. These parties don't truly represent the people of the region." Senator Sherry Rehman, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, had recently exposed the plan for Gilgit-Baltistan hatched by the military command and the ISI in Rawalpindi. The move to amend the Article 258 of the Pakistan constitution has been postponed due to the severe reaction of political parties.
While Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz said that the Gilgit-Baltistan issue is a political issue that should be solved in the parliament, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto is of the opinion that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have the right to decide the future of region.
Most of the opposition parties have said that the military establishment should avoid interfering in the political matters and elections of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Taken aback, the army establishment has now prepared a new political trap. Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said he has left the decision about a change in the Gilgit-Baltistan's constitutional status on the political leadership.
Most of the opposition, meanwhile, still believes that it is a very "sensitive matter" and any such move, before or after the elections, will have serious ramifications like disturbing Pakistan's stance on the Kashmir dispute.
(This content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)