Our new map

But we must also look beyond words and maps

Editorial August 06, 2020

Aday ahead of the first anniversary of India’s illegal redrawing of the map of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled a “new political map” of Pakistan. Imran said this is the new “official map” for use in schools and colleges, and that it had already been approved by the federal cabinet. The map identifies occupied Kashmir as a “disputed territory” and features the disputed boundary in Sir Creek and the Junagadh and Manavadar regions. On Kashmir, the map says, “Final status to be decided in line with relevant UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolutions.”

Interestingly, Kashmir’s boundary within Indian-occupied territory is unmarked. A notation of “frontier undefined” is used as a placeholder. The map also casts aside India’s subdivision of Kashmir as part of its actions on August 5 last year. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the map also shows Siachen as a part of Pakistan because “we are challenging their illegal occupation and claiming our right to the area”. On a domestic level, the ex-Fata region is fully-included in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the first time.

While there was some talk of what practical impact the new maps would have, its release was enough to get an angry reaction out of New Delhi, which called it “an exercise in political absurdity” and “ridiculous assertions [having] neither legal validity nor international credibility”. The Indian statement is ironic, considering that India’s administrative actions in Kashmir remain illegal to this day. The only reason they don’t get all the attention is because India has been covering up that crime with an even bigger one, namely their criminal treatment of the people of Kashmir.

On an official level, Pakistan had a similar response, noting that it remains firmly committed to the settlement of the Kashmir dispute under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. “The political map issued by Pakistan emphatically reaffirms this abiding commitment,” the Foreign Office said. But we must also look beyond words and maps. Pakistan must find a way to get the UN to intervene on behalf of the Kashmiri people before it’s too late.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2020.

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