Islamabad/New Delhi : Pakistan has initiated preparations to declare ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ as its fifth province. Pakistan’s Minister, Riyaz Hussein Pirzada informed media that this requires amendment in the constitution of Pakistan and the preparations for the same have also started. India has, on several occasions, stated clearly that ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ along with the entire Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) region is an integral part of India. Hence, a strong reaction is expected from India over this declaration by Pakistan. Also, a very harsh reaction can emerge from the citizens of the PoK region, who are presently opposing Pakistan.
A committee led by Sartaj Aziz, the advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, has recommended to the government that ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ should be declared as the fifth province of Pakistan at earliest. At present, there no provision of this kind in the constitution of Pakistan. Hence an amendment in the constitution is required for this and the preparations for the same, have already been started by Pakistan. In an interview given to the Pakistani media, Riyaz Pirzada provided this information.
The ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-CPEC project passes through Gilgit-Baltistan. This province can attain a constitutional stature, if Gilgit-Baltistan is declared as the fifth province and merged with Pakistan. The CPEC project will benefit from the same, claims the Pakistani media. The citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan are vehemently opposing this project. ‘The people alone have the rights to execute projects here and Pakistan, on its own, cannot take such a decision’, the local residents comment.
Hence, Pakistan has now geared itself up to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as it fifth province, along with its four provinces, namely, Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunwala. Analysts in Pakistan are saying that this will further strengthen Pakistan’s claim over Kashmir. However, this can impact the stand adopted so far by Pakistan in case of Kashmir. Pakistan’s demand until now, has been that the citizens of Kashmir should have the rights of self-determination. However, Pakistan has not even granted the right of self-determination or self-governance to the citizens of the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Kashmir, which is occupied by Pakistan. Instead, it seems that Pakistan is back-stabbing the local public, by declaring this province to be a part of their country.
Although the ‘CPEC’ project with China might gain more legality by this, the intensifying resistance by the residents could endanger the project and also Pakistan’s hold over this region. Pakistan had made such attempts a couple of years back. However, due to the intense opposition by the local residents, Pakistan was forced to back out.
‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ is a part of Jammu and Kashmir and no one has given Pakistan the rights of its partition, local leader Junaid Qureishi warned Pakistan two days back.
The residents of Gilgit-Baltistan are disillusioned by the authoritarian behaviour of Pakistan and the Indian national flag is being hoisted here these days. Perturbed by this, Pakistan had started newer experiments of repression upon the citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan. Even then, it seems that Pakistan has been unable to suppress the voice of the people here.
The citizens of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province are demanding independence. The Khyber-Pakhtunwala province is being controlled not by Pakistan, but by the local tribes. Pakistan had to carry out military operations to gain control over Karachi city, along with the Sindh province. Even then these operations have not yet been completely successful. Under such circumstances, Pakistan seems to have opened up a new front by declaring Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province.