SRINAGAR: In a rare case, separatist leaders in Kashmir have hit out at Pakistan and described any attempt by the country to declare Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as its 5th province as “unacceptable” and asserted that it is part of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Any proposal to declare Giglit Baltistan as fifth state of Pakistan is unacceptable,” the three senior Kashmiri separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik said in a joint statement issued here today.
Kashmir, Ladakh, Jammu, Pakistan administered Kashmir (Pak) and Giglit Baltistan is a single entity and part of Jammu and Kashmir, they said.
Declaring Pakistan as a prime party to the Kashmir issue, the three leaders said people in J&K have always regarded and accepted the role of Pakistan as a party to the issue, however, any step which may hamper the disputed status of Kashmir is unacceptable.
Any deviation in Pakistan’s stance about Kashmir and its geographical entity is improper and will prove detrimental for Kashmir cause, they said.
The leaders expressed their serious concern over proposal by Pakistan to declare Giglit Baltistan as fifth province of the country. “It will have damaging impact over the disputed status of state.”
“Unless and until people of J&K are provided an opportunity to decide the future course of state through referendum, no division, alteration and changes are acceptable,” they said.
Rejecting any idea of merging of its part or division of state, the leaders said both India and Pakistan have no authority or right to alter the geographical status of state.
They advised Pakistan to show wisdom and desist from such steps, which may hamper the political and geographical position of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We hope Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will fulfil commitment regarding the geographical entity of J&K and desist from the adventure of annexing Giglit Baltistan as fifth state of Pakistan,” the leader said.
Pakistan’s minister for inter-provincial coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada had told Pakistan TV news channel (Geo TV) that that a committee headed by Advisor of Foreign Affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sartaj Aziz has proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are four provinces of Pakistan.
The chief commander of dominant militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salah-ud-Din has also opposed Pakistan move to declare Gilgit Baltistan as a province.
“Pakistan should not declare Gilgit-Baltistan as fifth province of the country as it would impact the Kashmir dispute at the United Nations and give India a legal and moral pretext to lay claim on Kashmir,” he said.
The Hizb chief said Instead of granting Gilgat Baltistan a province status, the problems of its people should be addressed on priority basis and corruption free administration provided to the people of the region.
New Delhi has also strongly reacted to the Pakistan move to declare Gilgit Baltistan as country’s 5th province.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay had yesterday said any such step would not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan's occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir which it must vacate, forthwith.