Indian Express refers to Gilgit-Baltistan as ‘Northern Pakistan’ in its article

Recently, 14 schools, mostly for girls were burnt down in Gilgit Baltistan. The residents and must of the world is suspecting Pakistan Army’s hand in the brutality considering it is also the area that CPEC, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, runs through. Gilgit Baltistan is considered an integral part of India and one of the reasons why India has strong objections to CPEC.

The New York Times recently published an article about the 14 schools being burnt down headlined, “Arson Spree at Schools Stokes Suspicions of Pakistani Forces”. It detailed the barbaric crimes that are being heaped upon the people of Gilgit Baltistan by the Pakistani forces. 

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The article published by the New York Times was bound to have a certain slant that was not necessarily in favour of India given NYT’s long history with its anti-India and anti-Hindu bias.

However, at least the headline of the article was fairly neutral and focussed on the atrocities faced by the people.

Indian news agency Indian Express has a ‘special agreement’ with The New York Times, by which it can re-publish some of their articles. This fact is mentioned in the Indian Express author profile itself.

This article by The New York Times was re-published by the Indian Express. However, the headline of the article was completely different. The Indian Express headlined the article as, “After 14 schools burn down in northern Pakistan, locals wonder if the Army allowed it”.

It is interesting to note that Indian Express chose to alter the headline and referred to Gilgit-Baltistan as “Nothern Pakistan” in its headline. One would imagine that the editorial right to choose the headline even of re-published pieces lies with the publishing portal since the headline was drastically different. If the editorial right indeed lies with Indian Express, an Indian publication, one wonders why Indian Express would choose to refer to Gilgit Baltistan as “Nothern Pakistan”.

India has always maintained that so-called Gilgit-Baltistan which is a part of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India that Pakistan has illegally occupied. Recently, in May 2018, Pakistan had tried to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as a province of Pakistan and had met with strong opposition from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. The press release by MEA read:

The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan to India was summoned today and a strong protest was made against Government of Pakistan’s so-called “Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018”.

It was clearly conveyed that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir which also includes the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ areas is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947. Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever, and is completely unacceptable. Instead of seeking to alter the status of the occupied territories, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.

It was further conveyed that such actions can neither hide the illegal occupation of part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir 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.

Government of India’s consistent position in the matter is reflected in the resolution passed by the Parliament in 1994 by consensus.

With Pakistan illegally occupying an inalienable part of India, Indian Express toeing Pakistan’s line by referring to Gilgit-Baltistan as “Nothern Kashmir” is extremely unfortunate, and suspect especially when The New York Time itself had not chosen this headline that Indian Express chose to run with. The Indian Express had earlier too during Pakistan elections displayed a distorted map of India.

We had even tweeted to The New York Times to clarify if the Indian Express has editorial freedom to decide the headline of the articles they choose to re-publish owing to the ‘special agreement’.

We will update this article if and when The New York Times or The Indian Express chooses to respond.

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