Srinagar: Pakistan-based representatives of nearly all pro-freedom groups have supported the idea of making Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) the fifth province of Pakistan, sources said.
Their stance is in contrast to the resistance leadership in Kashmir, which has opposed the move to merge GB with Pakistan, as they believe it will “weaken the position of the resistance”.
According to sources in the pro-freedom groups, prime minister of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) Raja Farooq Haider held a closed-door meeting with the representatives of all pro-freedom groups at Kashmir House in Pakistani capital Islamabad to discuss whether GB should be merged with Pakistan or not.
“About 30 representatives from both Hurriyats and other pro-freedom groups participated in the meeting convened by Farooq Haider at around 7:30pm on Friday,” sources said.
“During the meeting which continued till 11 PM, almost all representatives, surprisingly, were in favour of the merger. Many representatives said that Gilgit Baltistan should have their administrative rights. They said that it was the right of the people of these regions to govern themselves,” sources said.
A few of them, said a pro-freedom leader, said once merged GB will have members in the Pakistan Senate where they can raise their voice for Kashmir solution.
However, “soft opposition” came from the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.
“JKLF representatives focused on what could be the possible repercussions of the proposed merger. But they too were of the view that Gilgit Baltistan should get administrative and governing rights,” sources added.
At the end of the session, the PaK prime minister concluded that the Kashmiri representatives of pro-freedom groups were in favour of GB becoming part of Pakistan.
Earlier the reports have suggested that Pakistan authorities have moved a proposal to declare Gilgit and Baltistan (GB) as the fifth province of Pakistan. However Kashmiri resistance leaders said the move will have “adverse consequences” for Kashmir.
New Delhi has also opposed the proposed move and reiterated that GB region is an “integral part” of the Indian state.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through GB region and the Chinese authorities have reportedly raised issues over its stability.
The decision to include GB region among Pak provinces is seen as an attempt by Pakistan to address Chinese concerns in the region.
China has always maintained the dispute is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, to be resolved through a dialogue. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has reportedly claimed in a recent statement that the country’s stand on the issue remains consistent, however, remained silent on Pakistan’s plans regarding the GB region.