Pakistan is preparing to give Provisional Provincial Status to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Gilgit-Baltistan (File Photo)
Pakistan has finalized a law to grant provisional provincial status to the strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan. India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, is an integral part of the country as a whole. India maintains that the government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no authority over the illegally forcibly occupied territories.
The Dawn newspaper reported that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SAC) of Gilgit-Baltistan can be abolished under the law proposed by the Ministry of Law and Justice. The Election Commission of Gilgit-Baltistan is also likely to be merged with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Sources in the Law Ministry told the newspaper that the draft bill, titled ’26th Constitution Amendment Bill’, has been prepared. It has also been handed over to Prime Minister Imran Khan. In the first week of July, the Prime Minister had entrusted the task of framing the law to Federal Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem.
Provincial status will be given through constitutional amendment
According to sources, the draft bill has been prepared after carefully reading Pakistan’s constitution, international laws, UN resolutions, especially resolutions related to referendum on Kashmir, comparative constitutional laws and local law. The report quoted sources as saying that stakeholders including the governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have been consulted regarding the proposed constitutional amendment. Sources said that through the proposed law, it can be given temporary provincial status by amending Article 1 of the Constitution relating to provinces and territories.
Merger is as per international rules: Sources
Sources said that apart from setting up a provincial assembly in Gilgit-Baltistan, a set of amendments will be introduced to give the region representation in parliament. The report said that the sources are confident that the constitutional amendment is in accordance with international rules for the merger of territories and will not adversely affect the issue of Kashmir in any way. The move was reportedly discussed by the Pakistan government and the opposition ahead of last year’s meeting of the political leadership with the Pakistani army chief. India has already criticized this move of Pakistan.
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