Two major regions that Pakistan controls – Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are in news again. India protested against Islamabad’s order to integrate Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan, while Afghanistan rejected Pakistan National Assembly’s decision of merger between FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Afghanistan government called Pakistan’s decision to merge FATA (federal administrative tribal areas) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as one-sided. The 2400 km Durand Line that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan is highly disputed. The Durand Line was established in 1896 between Sir Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Emir of Afghanistan. Historically, Afghanistan lays claim to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and does not recognise the Durand Line.
Indian Claims to Gilgit-Baltistan
From the Indian side, an official press release from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responded by stating that Gilgit-Baltistan region belongs to India and Pakistan has no legal ground to control it.
India clearly communicated to Pakistan that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. Any step to alter the status of the region by Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever, and is absolutely unacceptable,” the Indian MEA press release read.
CPEC Connection with Gilgit-Baltistan
India’s prompt and sharp response came in the backdrop of Pakistan’s PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s speech on Sunday where they ordered to initiate the congressional, legal and administrative measures to integrate Gilgit-Baltistan with the rest of the federal structure of Pakistan.
The notion of granting provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan augmented due to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project which was passing through the region. It is believed that Beijing was also very interested, as they wanted unrestricted and smooth coordination between both the administrative parties for the functioning of CPEC Project.
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