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The British Parliament condemned Pakistan’s move to annex the Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth province. British Parliament passed a resolution rejecting Pakistani stand on the issue, stating that it was forcefully trying to annex a territory that is legally and constitutionally a part of Jammu and Kashmir, which is a part of India.

The motion also clearly stated that the Gilgit-Baltistan region is under Pakistan’s illegal occupation. Since 1947, Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. It has a regional assembly and an elected chief minister.

The motion introduced by Conservative Party’s Bob Blackman has shaken up Sharrif’s Government, who has preferred silence on the issue. The report further said that Pakistan was trying to change the demography of the region in violation of State Subject Ordinance, adding that the construction of China’s pet project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was also illegal.

“The ‘forced and illegal construction’ of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has interfered with the disputed territory,” as quoted in a section of the motion.

Recently, it was reported that Pakistan is planning to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as the fifth province, a move that may raise concerns in India as it borders the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The matter is also significant as separatist Hurriyat leaders of Kashmir have condemned Pakistan’s latest move

Pakistan’s minister for inter-provincial coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada had said that a committee headed by Advisor of Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pirzada said on Friday, “The committee recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan should be made a province of Pakistan”. He also said that a constitutional amendment would be made to change the status of the region, through which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes.

It is believed that China’s concerns about the unsettled status of Gilgit-Baltistan prompted Pakistan to change its status. Pakistan was mulling to elevate the constitutional status of the region in a bid to provide legal cover to the CPEC. The move could signal a historic shift in the country’s position on the future of the wider Kashmir region as per informed sources.

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