The Foreign Office (FO) on Friday rejected remarks made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson regarding elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.
"The Indian government, which has been holding fraudulent 'elections' in occupied Jammu and Kashmir under the barrel of Indian occupation forces and has turned the region into the world’s largest open prison, has no locus standi to comment on elections in GB," FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said.
"Pakistan reiterates that India remains in illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir," the statement read, adding that the issue — the longest outstanding item on the UN Security Council’s agenda — stemmed from Delhi's forcible and illegal occupation of the region in 1947.
On Thursday, Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the decision to hold elections was "an attempt to camouflage Islamabad’s illegal occupation of Indian territories", according to The Hindu.
“We call upon Pakistan to vacate all Indian territories that are under their illegal occupation,” he said, while replying to a question during an online media briefing.
In the statement issued today, the FO spokesperson reiterated that the only resolution to the Kashmir issue was the "faithful implementation of the relevant UNSC resolutions that recognise the inalienable right" of the Kashmiris "through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices".
"Baseless Indian contentions about elections in GB cannot cover up the egregious human rights violations committed by Indian security forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
"Only the other day, heartless Indian occupation forces in Sopore killed an unarmed civilian in front of [his] three-year old grandson," she said, referring to the killing of an elderly man by Indian troops in front of his minor grandson during a gun battle with Kashmiri fighters two days ago.
"The impunity enjoyed by Indian occupation forces under the draconian laws in place [...] is another dimension of state terrorism being perpetrated by India against unarmed Kashmiris."
Farooqui called upon the Indian government to vacate all occupied territories, reverse all illegal actions taken in the valley, revoke all draconian laws, and allow neutral observers, and international human rights groups to visit the region to ascertain the Kashmiris' well-being as well as allow them to exercise their right to self-determination.
On April 30, the top court had allowed the Centre to conduct elections in GB under the Election Act 2017 and amend the relevant law to install a caretaker government for conducting polls.
On June 28, President Dr Arif Alvi approved the election schedule for the GB Legislative Assembly. The assembly was dissolved on the completion of its term on June 24 and, as per the law, elections have to be held within 60 days to elect new members.
According to the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, polls will be held on August 18 this year.