Political Absurdity: India on Pakistan’s Boundary Map

Bilateral

New Delhi: India on August 4 called as an “exercise in political absurdity” a new map issued by Pakistan that lays claim to the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, and Junagadh in Gujarat state, on the eve of the first anniversary of the scrapping of J&K’s special status.

Releasing the political map during a meeting in Islamabad attended by his cabinet and senior officials, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said this was the first step towards a political struggle to achieve the right of self-determination for the Kashmiri people.

Hours later, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) described the “so-called ‘political map’ of Pakistan” released by Khan as “an exercise in political absurdity, laying untenable claims to territories in the Indian state of Gujarat and our Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and of Ladakh.”

“These ridiculous assertions have neither legal validity nor international credibility. In fact, this new effort only confirms [the] reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism,” the Ministry said in a brief statement repeating New Delhi’s assertion that Islamabad uses terror as an instrument of state policy.

Over the past few days, the Pakistani leadership has pulled out all stops to rake up the Kashmir issue 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, and split the state into two UTs.

Pakistan’s new map includes the whole of the UT of Jammu & Kashmir as part of the country’s territory, describing it as “Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and a “disputed 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.

In a nod to China’s sensitivities, the map does not depict the Ladakh region, with a legend stating “frontier undefined”. An annotation on the map states the boundary in this area will be decided by “sovereign authorities concerned after the final settlement of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.” During the ceremony at which the map was unveiled, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi referred to the India-China border standoff in Ladakh and said Pakistan, too, has a view on the matter.

The new map will be “used in schools and colleges and internationally” and the “only solution to the Kashmir issue can be found 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,” Khan said.

The Pakistani leadership has also attempted to mobilise support for its position on Kashmir from 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.

Academic Happymon Jacob, who closely tracks India-Pakistan relations, said Islamabad should “stop mouthing the worn-out platitude that it supports the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.”

“It only seeks to wrest Kashmir from India,” he said, adding that making the LoC the international boundary “is the only solution available to either side.”

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