In a rare denouncement of Pakistan, the separatist camp in Kashmir today said Islamabad’s proposal to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province is “unacceptable”, saying it will have a “damaging impact” on the state’s “disputed status”.
“Any proposal to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as (the) fifth state of Pakistan is unacceptable,” Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said in a joint statement here. The separatists said the people in Jammu and Kashmir have “always accepted the role of Pakistan as a party to the issue; however, any step which may hamper the disputed status of Kashmir is unacceptable”.
The rare denouncement of Islamabad comes days after reports that a committee headed by Pakistan PM’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, has proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan. Made up of seven districts, it is the northern-most territory of the erstwhile monarchical state of J&K as it existed prior to 1947.
The separatists said the proposal “will have a damaging impact on the disputed status of the state... unless and until the people are provided an opportunity to decide the future course through a referendum, no division, alteration and changes are acceptable”.