Geneva [Switzerland], October 3 (ANI): Political activists and experts have said that the Pakistan Army is feeling pressure from China to make Gilgit Baltistan as the 5th province of the country that will help protect the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
They were speaking at a webinar titled "Pakistan attempts to Annex Gilgit Baltistan as its 5th Province" held under the aegis of United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) on the sidelines of 45th Session of UN Human Rights Council Session.
Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, the Chairman of UKPNP said: "As per the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, no army general has the right to call the gathering of political parties. But still, General Bajwa called a number of politicians from opposition parties at GHQ (Pakistan Army Headquarters) and said that we want to make Gilgit Baltistan as 5th Province and for that, we need to do a constitutional amendment and do not want you (politicians) to oppose it."
"This was a kind of warning as well as a threat. During that meeting, those who didn't support this decision of General Bajwa like Shehbaz Sharif were put in jail and a warrant was issued against many other leaders," he added.
Pakistan Minister Ali Amin Gandapur had announced that the government has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon visit the region and make a formal announcement in this regard.
In response to Pakistan's decision to usurp Gilgit Baltistan, India had responded strongly saying that "any action by Pakistan to alter the status of the militarily occupied so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan' has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab-initio. Our position has always been clear and consistent".
Though none of the Constitutions of Pakistan, be it of 1956, 1963, 1970 or 1974 has recognised Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Pakistan but still, it has made special effects to ensure that both the regions remain in the control of its federal the government especially Gilgit-Baltistan.
It also abolished the State Subject Rule in Gilgit-Baltistan in 1984, which resulted in demographic changes in the territory as people from different parts of Pakistan are free to purchase land there.
Pakistan has already changed the autonomous status of Gilgit-Baltistan to semi-autonomous and now it is all set to make it a province.
Experts believe that this move is a belated response from Pakistan for the humiliation that it faced after the amendment of article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Junaid Qureshi, the director of the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said, "I feel that this is a belated response from Pakistan to India's 5th August (2019) move. For a year, Pakistan kept on trying, it raised this issue at the United Nations and even at several international platforms. We have seen that other than Turkey, Malaysia and China, no other nation supported Pakistan and the main reason for this is that it has no legal title (to Gilgit Baltistan)".
Chinese influence is also being considered behind this conspiracy.
Activists say that China has been lobbying Pakistan for long to bring the region under its legal jurisdiction so as to protect the investments that it has done in the form of the CPEC projects.
Junaid, who hails from Srinagar, said, "The core motive behind doing this (making GB as its province) is that the huge investment that China is doing (in Gilgit Baltistan), it wants that at least where CPEC is being built that region should be in the legal jurisdiction of Pakistan. It doesn't want its legal status to remain disputed and it should at least be defined in the Constitution of Pakistan. Even though Article 257 of Pakistan's Constitution says that when the people of Jammu and Kashmir decide to join us (Pakistan) only then we can decide after discussing with them what kind of relationship we want to keep with them".
Along with moving ahead with its plan to make GB as its province, Pakistan is also planning to hold elections to the so-called Gilgit Baltistan legislative assembly on November 15. (ANI)