No change in Gilgit-Baltistan status, Nawaz assures Malik

Srinagar, April 22 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has “assured” Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik that the Pakistan government will not change the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan, which it occupies.

Replying a letter written to him by Malik in which the JKLF chief had expressed serious concern over news reports that Pakistan intended to change the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan by merging the area with the rest of the country, thereby diluting the territorial status of parts of Jammu and Kashmir under its occupation, he assured no such change was in the offing.

Kashmiri separatist leaders spearheaded by Malik had expressed concern over reports saying that in order to extend China-Pakistan economic cooperation, Pakistan would first remove Gilgit-Baltistan from the territorial limits of the part of divided Kashmir under its administration and then provide a corridor to the Chinese through these border areas.

“I assure you that nothing would be done to change the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan,” Sharif has said in his letter to JKLF chief, dated March 18 but only recently delivered.

He also assured continued moral and diplomatic support to what he called “the freedom struggle of valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir”.

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