The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday slammed Pakistan over the upcoming elections in Gilgit and Baltistan on 8 June and said that it was an attempt by Islamabad to "camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation of the regions", which were integral parts of India.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup also expressed concern over the "continued efforts" by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights and to absorb these territories.
"We are concerned at continued efforts by Pakistan to deny people in Gilgit-Baltistan, part of Indian state of J&K, their political rights," Swarup tweeted.
"The election in Gilgit-Baltistan is an attempt by Pakistan to camouflage its contnd (continued) illegal occupation of the regions," he posted next on Twitter.
Responding to a media question on elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, the MEA spokesperson said in a statement: "India's position is well known. The entire State of Jammu & Kashmir which includes the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan is an integral part of India."
"The election in Gilgit and Baltistan on June 8 under the so called 'Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self Government Order' is an attempt by Pakistan to camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation of the regions. We are concerned at the continued efforts by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights, and the efforts being made to absorb these territories. The fact that a Federal Minister of Pakistan is also the 'Governor of Gilgit Baltistan' speaks for itself," the statement reads.
"Unfortunately in recent times the people of the region have also become victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism and extreme economic hardship due to Pakistan's occupationary policies," the MEA statement says.
Gilgit-Baltistan is an autonomous self-governing region that was established as a single administrative unit in 1970, formed by the amalgamation of Gilgit agency and Baltistan region as well as a couple of former princely states. Internationally, the region along with "Azad Kashmir", is "disputed" area, claimed by both India and Pakistan.