India today termed as "entirely unacceptable" any possible attempt by Pakistan to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region, bordering disputed PoK, as the fifth province.
Reacting sharply to reports that a committee headed by Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz has proposed status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said any such step would not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan's occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir which it must vacate, forthwith.
Noting that the issue pertains to the sovereignty of India, he said the government's position is very well known on the matter.
"The entire state of J&K is an integral part, has been an integral part and will be an integral part of India. No attempt or unilateral attempt or step to change that would have any legal basis, whatsoever, and it will be entirely unacceptable.
"Any such step would not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan's occupation of parts of J&K which it must vacate, forthwith. It will also not be able to hide the tremendous, very concerning human rights violations and denial of freedom that has been going on in parts controlled by Pakistan for the last 70 years," the spokesperson said.
Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. It has a regional assembly and an elected chief minister. At present, Pakistan has four provinces -- Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
It is believed that China's concerns about the unsettled status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to explore change in its status.
Asked about Pakistan having expressed concern over acquittal of Assemanand in Ajmer Sharif blast case, Baglay said India completely rejects Pakistan's "efforts and intention to meddle" in the country's internal affairs, including in the Indian judicial process.
"We also totally reject the ulterior link which is sought to be established by Pakistan with any other matter under the purview of the Indian courts. A strong India democracy and justice system obviously need no self-serving sermons from anybody much less from a country like Pakistan," he asserted.
Pakistan would be well-advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of India in any form and not to resort to denial from the reality of terrorism emanating from its soil which was affecting not only India but the entire neighbourhood and beyond, he said.
The spokesperson further said Pakistan should take action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in its own territory or the territory under its control, and bring to justice the masterminds who still operate and continue to enjoy freedom in Pakistani territory.
Last week, Pakistan foreign office had summoned India's Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh to express its concern over Assemanand's acquittal.
Asserting that the entire State of J&K acceded to India in 1947, Baglay said any step to alter the status will also be a violation of the agreement between the two countries to address all issues bilaterally through peaceful means, which is enshrined in Shimla Agreement of 1972 and reiterated through the Lahore Declaration in 1999.
The spokesperson also played down the visit of three Indian parliamentarians to Pakistan, saying it was to attend a meet of Asian Parliamentary Assembly and it should not be linked to any other issue.
He was asked if the government's permission to the MPs to visit Pakistan was indicative of softening of the Indian stand.
On the comments of J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti yesterday that India should scrap the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan and that India should join the economic corridor between Pakistan and China, he said India has an issue with the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) as parts of it pass through India which is matter of concern.
The Indian position has been conveyed to all stakeholders concerned, he added.