Pakistan has rejected new maps issued by New Delhi which show India-Occupied Kashmir (IOK), Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir “within the territorial jurisdiction of India”. Our Foreign Office took strong exception to a notification from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the new disputed boundaries after India’s illegal decision to remove IOK’s special status and split it into two union territories. The new Indian maps show G-B as part of Ladakh and AJK as part of the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.
India has again tried to justified its controversial actions in IOK by claiming that Kashmir is its internal issue. This ‘internalisation’ approach of the Modi government towards regarding Kashmir is ironic, considering that the Kashmir issue was internationalised by India itself when it went to the United Nations in 1948. Unfortunately, after the UN issued resolutions in favour of the Kashmiri people rather than the Republic of India, the long-running policy had been to avoid acting on them. Modi has since decided to violate them outright.
Map-based propaganda, however, is nothing new for India. It has long issued maps depicting their territorial claims, regardless of actual control. Since 1961, the country has even criminalised excluding any part of Kashmir from a map. The rest of the world, including Pakistan, marks the region as disputed. The Indian propaganda machine even went after Microsoft and other tech giants for the crime of showing maps accurately identifying the dispute. Even now, Google’s Indian subdomain has to show the propaganda map rather than the actual one available to the rest of the world.
But the fact is that changing a map won’t change the disputed status of the region, let alone address the cause of the dispute. For that, India will have to start by bringing an end to its oppression of Kashmiris. Just recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Modi in New Delhi and told him about her concerns regarding India’s actions in the state while asking him about his plans to restore calm in the region. Nobody, including Merkel, appears to know how he answered the question.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2019.