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31 Jan, 2020 08:13

‘No such proposal’: Islamabad rejects ‘speculation’ over alleged plan to integrate Pakistani-held part of Kashmir

‘No such proposal’: Islamabad rejects ‘speculation’ over alleged plan to integrate Pakistani-held part of Kashmir

Pakistan has denied it is gearing up to merge the territory it administers in the disputed region of Kashmir with the rest of the country, dismissing reports to the contrary as media speculation.

“There is no such proposal under consideration,” Pakistani Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said. She was responding to reports in the media that Islamabad is allegedly seeking to integrate Azad Jammu and Kashmir (also known as Azad Kashmir) into Pakistan.

The rumors have been circulating in the media since December, after the region’s prime minister reportedly suggested that he could become the last to hold the post in the autonomous territory. Also, the renaming of a local administrative service has only added to the speculation. Rather than ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir Management Group’ it is now being referred to as ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Services’ – similar to Pakistan’s own ‘Pakistan Administrative Services.’

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Azad Kashmir is part of the larger Kashmir region, the subject of a decades-long territorial dispute between Pakistan and India, which became a matter of escalation between the two countries last year.

In August, India moved to revoke the special status of Kashmir’s part it controls. New Delhi said that the move was needed to combat terrorism and corruption, as well as facilitating development in the region. The decision sparked angry backlash in Islamabad, with claims that India’s policies there have been “oppressive” and “discriminatory,” targeting its only Muslim-majority state.

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