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The Fifth province of Pakistan

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[author ]ARSALAN MAJEED Karachi[/author]

Sir: the people of Gilgit-Baltistan celebrate two independence days every year: August 14, with the rest of Pakistan; and November 1, when they first found the pearl of freedom. In 2010, Gilgit-Baltistan CM declared that it was now the “fifth province” of Pakistan.

In addition, Azad Jammu and Kashmir are also an integral part of Pakistan’s commercial and economic markets, without any border controls. Sost, a busy trading post for trade with China is located in Gilgit-Baltistan and the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project is also in the process of being built on the confluence of two rivers in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

However, Pakistan’s constitution does not even mention Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Gilgit-Baltistan, even though residents of the two regions are still subjected to all taxes — including income tax, which all Pakistani citizens have to pay. Political leaders in Gilgit-Baltistan have been demanding the right for decades that their region be integrated into Pakistan, but Islamabad still resists. The federal government should pay heed to this dispute between the province and Islamabad, and act on their promises made in the 2013 elections.


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