ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday issued notices to the ministries of law and justice and the secretary Cabinet Division on a petition to make Gilgit-Baltistan the fifth province of Pakistan.
The petition was filed by senior lawyer Ahmed Raza Khan Qasuri, who is also the chief coordinator of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) of retired General Pervez Musharraf.
In the petition, advocate Qasuri also requested the court to declare unlawful the elections to the GB legislative assembly to be held on June 8.
He argued before Justice Athar Minallah that during his recent visit to Gilgit-Baltistan in connection with the elections, he found that the people of the area wanted their territory to be constitutionally integrated with Pakistan and declared as the fifth province of the county.
Giving historical background of the matter, Mr Qasuri said Gilgit-Baltistan became a separate administrative unit in 1970 under the name of Northern Areas. It was formed by the amalgamation of the former Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan district of Ladakh Wazarat and the hill states of Hunza and Nagar.
While administratively controlled by Pakistan since the first Kashmir war, GB has never been formally integrated into Pakistani state and does not participate in Pakistan’s constitutional political affairs.
On August 2009, the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order was passed by the federal cabinet and later signed by the then president Asif Ali Zardari, he said, adding the order was not a substitute to self-governance for the people of the area.
He requested the court to direct the federal government to take steps for converting GB into a province.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2015