Indian minister speaks of annexing Gilgit-Baltistan

Published October 28, 2022
In this file photo, India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attends a ceremony for the delivery of the first Rafale fighter to the Indian Air Force at the factory of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation in Merignac near Bordeaux, France. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attends a ceremony for the delivery of the first Rafale fighter to the Indian Air Force at the factory of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation in Merignac near Bordeaux, France. — Reuters/File

NEW DELHI: Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday he hoped to have Gilgit-Baltistan as part of India to complete the mission the Modi government began by annexing held Kashmir in Aug 2019.

Mr Singh is visiting the occupied region to celebrate the landing of Indian forces in the state a day after New Delhi allegedly signed the Instrument of Accession with its Hindu ruler on Oct 26, 1947. Pakistan disputes the narrative.

Mr Singh’s claims are linked to a 1994 resolution on Gilgit and Baltistan passed by the Indian parliament when Narasimha Rao was the prime minister, but it also follows two events that ruffled feathers in New Delhi.

The first was the unusual visit by Donald Blome, the US ambassador in Islam­abad, to Azad Kashmir recently. The move was followed the same day by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressing her country’s concern over the Kashmir dispute.

India promptly and sharply criticised the US and Germany for the back-to-back moves. “I’m honoured to visit during my first trip to AJK,” the US embassy in Islamabad quoted Blome as saying on Twitter.

Rajnath Singh, who was advising Russian President Vladimir Putin on the risks of nuclear war the other day, appeared less bothered about the South Asian nuclear rivalry.

“Kashmir and Ladakh are set on a new path of development and prosperity (post-Aug 5, 2019). This is just the beginning. The mission will complete only when Gilgit-Baltistan and areas of Kashmir (under Pakistan’s control) reunite with India.

“Also, when justice is delivered to the refugees of 1947 and they get their land and homes back. The day is not far away,” reports quoted Mr Singh as saying.

The defence minister was speaking at an event in Budgam to remember the landing of Indian soldiers in Srinagar on Oct 27, 1947.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2022

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