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Gilgit- Baltistan Issue Illegitimate Fifth Province

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The Pakistan government's decision to change the status of the Northern Areas by renaming the area as Gilgit-Baltistan and has practically, though not constitutionally, becomes the fifth province of Pakistan. India has termed it as "completely unacceptable" actions by Pakistan in regard to Gilgit- Baltistan and asserted "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,". It can be recalled that the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Mehdi Shah had said that the area had become the 'fifth province' of Pakistan and henceforth had no connection to Kashmir. It is important to note that the other four provinces of Pakistan are Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province.

In September 2008, India had lodged a protest with Pakistan over its package for the Northern Areas through the "Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009." Ironically, the Pakistan government's measure, known as the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment Order, claims to give more autonomy to the area, but actually separates it from the rest of Kashmir. The MEA of India had emphasised that the "entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. The so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009' was yet another cosmetic exercise intended to camouflage Pakistan's illegal occupation." In early September 2009, Pakistan signed an agreement with China of a mega energy project in Gilgit-Baltistan which includes the construction of a 7000-megawatt dam at Bunji in the Astore District of the Gilgit-Baltistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is administratively divided into two divisions which, in turn, are divided into seven districts, including the two Baltistan districts of Skardu and Ghanche, and the five Gilgit districts of Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Astore, and Hunza-Nagar. The main political centres are the towns of Gilgit and Skardu. Balawaristan is an historical name of Gilgit-Baltistan.