Mumbai: India on Tuesday came down heavily on PM Imran Khan’s ‘Naya’ Pakistan for its decision to hold general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and said any action to alter the status of region has “no legal basis”.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said the Government of India has conveyed its strong protest to the Government of Pakistan and reiterated that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan are “an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947.”

“The Government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it,” the statement reads.

The Government of India has also completely rejected the recent actions such as “Gilgit-Baltistan (Elections and Caretaker Government) Amendment Order 2020” and continued attempts by the Pakistan establishment to bring material changes in areas under its ‘illegal and forcible’ occupation.

“Action such as these can neither hide the illegal occupation of parts of Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom to the people residing in Pakistan occupied territories for the past seven decades. These are cosmetic exercises intended to camouflage its illegal occupation. We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” the statement added.

Pakistan has announced that elections for the legislative assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan will be held on November 15.

In a ruling earlier this year, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed Islamabad to amend a 2018 administrative order to conduct general elections in the region.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 provided for administrative changes, including authorising the prime minister of Pakistan to legislate on an array of subjects. Following the verdict, India issued a demarche to a senior Pakistani diplomat in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest over the apex court ruling.

The polls in Gilgit-Baltistan were to be held on August 18, but Pakistan’s election commission on July 11 postponed them due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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