Voicing serious concerns over the Government of Pakistan's proposed plan to convert Gligit Baltistan into a province, Kashmiri leaders hailing from both sides of Line of Control at an all party conference here observed that any effort to change the geographical integrity of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir would have implications on disputed status of Kashmir issue at international level.
"If government is really sincere about the empowerment of people Gligit Baltistan it could be conveniently done without a change in geographical or political status of the region", the Kashmiri leaders said adding that political leadership across the divide was not averse to devolution package rather they want that people of the region should be given all the fundamental political, economical and democratic rights.
They said that in light of the historic UNSC resolutions and as per the constitution of Pakistan and its principled stand on the issue of Kashmir, GB is part and parcel of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. " Under the pretext of peoples' rights any attempt to change the status of the region at this point of time would not only be harmful for freedom movement of Kashmir but it would adversely affect the country's interests besides paving a way for further fragmentation of the state of J&K", they said.
Speaking on the occasion, the information minister for the government of PaK Mushtaq Ahmed Minhas while clarifying his government's stand on the issue said that no such proposal has been put forward before the government. "In case we get any kind of draft proposal we would straightaway present it in the Assembly", the minister said adding that there have been a couple of meetings with government-constituted constitutional amendment committee and whatever was discussed was a subject matter relating to constitutional amendments in AJK. He, however maintained that there was a dire need to have grand debate over the Gligit Baltistan issue. "We believe that the opinion of the people of GB should be respected", he added.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir he said was no doubt an indivisible entity and there was no ambiguity whatsoever regarding the freedom movement of Kashmir but we believe that a sincere and genuine effort was required to know what the people GB actually want? "We can not decide or determine their destiny while sitting in a conference room", Minhas said saying that a grand debate and discussions needed to be held with the people of GB to know their point of view in this regard. He said that GB has never been part of AJK but yes it has been very much part and parcel of Jammu and Kashmir state. He said that rather than opposing tooth and nail the stakeholders should sit and talk and discuss the issue with a positive state of mind. He was of the view that if after 70 long years there was an opportunity to correct the wrongs or injustices of past it should be availed.
Regarding the execution of billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor he said that there was no external pressure whatsoever.
Chowdhary Lateef Akbar, the president of Pakistan Peoples Party (PaK), said that Kashmir issue needed to be seen in its true historic and international perspective. In a direct reference to PML-N minister, Chudhary said that had it been the matter of plebiscite on regional basis he would have no hesitation in accepting the view point of the legislator. PPP he said believed in the integrity of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Referring to Bilwal Bhutto's recent speech in Multan he said that the Party chairman had made it abundantly clear that division of Kashmir was not acceptable.
President of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf Kashmir chapter Barrister Sultan Mehmood termed GoP's plan to convert GM into a province as a ill-timed proposal. He said that people of GB should be given their rights but there are some indications that attempts were being made to divide the state. Any such move he said would be resisted by people. Regarding his meeting with Prime Minister Raja Farooq Hyder, Barrister said that he had conveyed his reservation to the PM on the matter.
Former Chief Justice of PaK Justice Abdul Majeed Malik while highlighting the legal aspects of the issue said that incumbent regime was set to deal the issue of GB under article 258 of the constitution of Pakistan. He however observed that the central government can't do it without amending the constitution. He said that changing status of territory would have severe implications on the issue of Kashmir at international level.