Pakistan on Thursday rejected the Indian protest over a recent amendment in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution (13th Amendment) Act 2018 and its claim over the Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. “The Government of Pakistan categorically rejects India’s protest against the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution (13th Amendment) Act 2018 and its fallacious and baseless claim over the Indian-occupied State of Jammu & Kashmir as an ‘integral part’ of India,” the Foreign Office said, adding, “The Indian claim has no legal basis and continues to be contradicted by the situation on ground over the last seven decades.” Earlier this month, a joint sitting of the Azad Jammu Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the AJK Council had approved the much-awaited 13th amendment in the Constitution of AJK, securing more empowerment for the State government. Under the amended constitution, most of powers earlier exercised by the AJK Council stood transferred to the AJK Legislative Assembly and the government, leaving the Kashmir Council to function only as an advisory body. The FO spokesperson said the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir was a ‘disputed’ territory and its disputed status was enshrined in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. He said it stipulates that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir would be determined through the democratic method of a transparent, free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiri people. “These resolutions, pledging the right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir, are accepted by India, Pakistan and the international community,” the spokesman said. He said the Indian attempts to deflect attention from the ongoing atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including the use of pellet guns and humans shields, through baseless, fallacious contentions were regrettable and bound to failure. Indian intransigence to implement UN Security Council Resolutions in letter and spirit continues to hold hostage peace and development in the region, the FO statement said. “Instead of making frivolous protests and issuing legally untenable and uncalled for statements, India should take steps to vacate its illegal occupation, fulfill its international obligations and expedite resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in line with the UN Security Council Resolutions,” the spokesman said. Published in Daily Times, June 15th 2018.