Pakistan’s effort to make Gilgit Baltistan its fifth province is not the new thing that emerged today. But India, more than ever before, is setting the factual narrative straight that establishes its rightful claim on Gilgit Baltistan before the global community. The question is whether India has managed to effectively shape its narrative on Gilgit Baltistan. A resolution by the British Parliament in 2017 will assure us that India is very effective in demanding its rights in the eyes of global powers.
British Parliament Said – Pakistan Illegally Occupied Gilgit Baltistan
British Parliament by passing a motion in 2017 had condemned Pakistan’s effort to make Gilgit Baltistan its fifth province and said that it belongs to India.
The resolution noted the following points:
- Gilgit-Baltistan is a legal and constitutional part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1947.
- The people of this region are denied their fundamental rights including the right of freedom of expression.
- Building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Gilgit Baltistan is illegal and forceful which further aggravates and interferes with the disputed territory’s status.
The Importance of the British Parliament’s Resolution
The resolution is important from various viewpoints. One simple reason underscoring its significance is the fact that India got freedom from the British empire back in 1947 and the latter had the role in partition and the battle between Pakistan and India in 1947.
There is a historic and rather questionable role of British officers in the 1947 J&K fiasco, which is covered at length in book like ‘Slender Was the Thread – Kashmir Confrontation 1947-48’ by Lt. Gen. L P Sen.
The British took Gilgit Agency on a 60-year-lease from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir in 1935. On August 1, 1947, the Gilgit lease was receded by Delhi to the Maharaja of J&K. Brigadier Ghansara Singh was appointed as the region’s new Governor. The British officers of Gilgit Scouts – Major William Alexander Brown and Capt. A.S. Mathieson – who were mandated to work as contact points for Maharaja, switched sides and obeyed the Pakistani side. As soon as Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India, Brown got the Gilgit Scouts to take control of the region and he imprisoned Governor Ghansara Singh. To cut a long story short, he gave Gilgit Baltistan to the Pakistani side through his British officers serving on the other side on a platter.
India’s Recent Statement on Gilgit Baltistan
Ministry of External Affairs has issued a statement on November 1, 2020 in which it categorically condemned the move of Pakistan in making Gilgit Baltistan its fifth province.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said:
“The Government of India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation. I reiterate that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the area of so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan”, are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947. The Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. Such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its illegal occupation, cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan occupied territories. Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”
You may also read the details of Pakistan’s human rights violations in Gilgit Baltistan and the China’s involvement, in our previous article