Pakistan’s new political map for disputed Kashmir region
During a meeting in Islamabad attended by his cabinet and senior officials, speaking in Urdu, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan released the political map depicted as a “historic” move reflecting the desires of the people of Pakistan and Kashmir and rejection of India’s illegal action of August 5 last year,” and the first step towards a political struggle to achieve the right of self-determination for the Kashmiri people under the UN Security Council resolutions, which clearly give the right to the Kashmiri people to vote on whether to go with Pakistan or India.
In the new map, Pakistan lays claim to the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, and Junagadh in Gujarat state. The announcement was made ahead of the first anniversary of the Indian government’s decision on August 5, 2019 to scrap Jammu & Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. As it was expected, India on Tuesday described Pakistan’s political map an “exercise in political absurdity”
India’s decision to nullify Article 370 last year had triggered a strong reaction from Pakistan, as well from China, which believed it would affect its territorial claims in Ladakh, especially after India included Aksai Chin region in new maps of the union territories.
In the new map, Pakistan claims the whole of the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir is a part of the country’s territory whose final status is to be decided in line with UN Security Council resolutions. The boundary of Himachal Pradesh is depicted as the international border.
The map includes an annotation related to the Ladakh region whose boundary will be decided by “sovereign authorities concerned after the final settlement of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute”. In the map, Pakistan claims Siachen glacier as part of the country boundary as well as the disputed Sri Creek region of Gujarat. The map also depicts the Junagadh and Manavadar region of India’s Gujarat state as part of Pakistan. The nawab of Junagadh had opted to accede to Pakistan in September 1947, before fleeing from India with his family the following month. Junagadh voted overwhelmingly to stay with India in a plebiscite held in the region in 1948.The new map will be “used in schools and colleges and internationally”
On Monday, Pakistan’s foreign and defence ministers visited areas along the Line of Control (LoC) to raise the Kashmir issue. Pakistan plans to observe August 5 as “Youm-e-Istehsal” (day of exploitation) and Khan is scheduled to go to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), to deliver a speech. Pakistan’s new political map on Kashmir has the support of the country’s traditional allies, with only Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assuring Khan and President Arif Alvi of his country’s backing on the issue.
Kashmir issue is a legacy of colonial rule. Kashmir was a princely state during British rule with a Hindu ruler and at least two-thirds Muslim population. To date, it is the only Muslim majority state in India. Legally speaking, Kashmir’s accession, in October 1947, was no different from the other 550 princely states that joined India and were subsequently erased as geographical entities.