'Pak can't hide illegality of PoK claim'

Reacting strongly to the newly appointed first Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah’s statement that the area has now become the “fifth province of Pakistan” and has “no connection with Kashmir,” New Delhi reiterated that the area continued to be an integral part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir State.

“The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947. Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever, and is completely unacceptable,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement. 

The Gilgit-Baltistan region was earlier known as Northern Areas in Pakistan and it was the northernmost part of the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

Amid the post 26/11 diplomatic chill between India and Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s Government in Islamabad on August 29 last year brought into force the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, which granted self-rule to the region and made provisions to have an elected Legislative Assembly and an elected Government.

Gilani on September 29 announced developmental package for socio-economic uplift of Gilgit-Baltistan. Besides, Pakistan also signed an agreement with China for a mega energy project in the region.

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