On August 4, 2020, Pakistan published its new political map which no longer refers to all of the ‘Jammu & Kashmir’ as a disputed territory but refers to AJK and Gilgit Baltistan as separate entities and demarcates them with the Line of Control (LoC).
It asserts a political narrative, which is vital not only to state facts but also as a legal instrument
Following this, the new map then refers to the remaining area as illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). It further explains that this area is a ‘disputed territory’ and final arrangement to be decided under the relevant UNSC resolutions. Another major addition is the expansion of the line of control past NJ980420 to the Karakoram Pass, this was the northeastern point where the LoC ended. The extension of the line to Karakoram Pass is also essential, as one of the reasons why India moved into Siachen was to avoid that.
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The map includes the line of Sir Creek to be on the eastern bank, Pakistan rejected Indian claims for the lines of Sir Creek to be on the western bank and continues to refuse negotiations based on Thalweg doctrine. The other prominent change is the inclusion of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (KP). The map not only incorporates India’s recently declared union territory- Ladakh but also Junagadh in Gujarat.
Why it was important to issue the new map
It was necessary to issue a standardized map for many reasons: –
1: A political map signifies the sovereignty of the state and legitimizes its sovereign claims before the international community.
2: It can prevent the use of incorrect maps across the country.
3: A political map is also crucial for a country’s stand on its borders and claims concerning the outside world.
4: Pakistan needed to set its record straight concerning India’s issuance of maps that exposed the illicit annexed territories of J&K (Including Ladakh) together with Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, and Aksai Chin as part of India.
Backlash from India
However, it got misunderstood and misinterpreted. The reactions extended from opposition parties’ remarks to ignorant comments on social media. Due to this, a fundamental exercise in signifying the supremacy of the state became politicized. However, it was imperative amid India’s controversial abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in which India fundamentally altered Kashmir’s special status.
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Whereas, India has marked it as ” an act of political absurdity”, adding that such ‘ridiculous declarations have no judicial nor international legality or credibility’. India’s Ministry of External Affairs, in an announcement, issued hours after the unveiling of Pakistan’s political map, remarked Islamabad’s move as the ‘existence of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandizement maintained by cross border terrorism’.
How the new map aims to aid Kashmiris
In his speech to the nation, on August 4, 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan reemphasized the execution of UNSC resolutions granting their right to self-determination. He said that the new map highlights the aspirations and desires of the people of Pakistan and Kashmir. In a political and ideological struggle like this one, one has to clearly define where one is going before reaching the exact destination and, that is what this map will help to plan for Pakistan.
”By issuing such map, Pakistan has reiterated its position concerning Kashmir and territorial dispute with India,” said Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a top Pakistani expert on international law. He stated that Pakistan’s move is well within the framework of international law and in keeping with the relevant United Nations resolutions. Soofi said that this move could further bolster Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir cause.
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A clear and precise political map is a basis for geopolitical and legal reasons. It asserts a political narrative, which is vital not only to state facts but also as a legal instrument. The new map launched will negate and highlight all the illegal moves and abrogation of articles.
India openly violated the international law by declaring the entire Kashmir region as its integral part.
Left with no solution for any significant negotiations, by releasing a new map Pakistan has given a strong geopolitical message. It represents a more aggressive policy on Kashmir to oppose the Indian rhetoric of refuting UN resolutions and bilateral responsibility.
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PM Imran Khan while unveiling it explained that the only answer to Kashmir’s issue was by UN resolution 39, which offered to aid in the amicable resolution of the conflict and gave the power to Kashmiris to either unite with Pakistan or India.
Can the Kashmir conflict get resolved?
Pakistan has successfully altered international public opinion, and now European Union and the civilized world have started raising voice against Indian brutality. It will aid Kashmiris to get freedom from illegal occupation and, such policies of Modi will further destroy India’s image. India openly violated the international law by declaring the entire Kashmir region as its integral part.
The global powers must play a significant role in this regard to push the parties for negotiations and ultimately reaching a consensus
Pakistan’s political map portrays a well-determined political statement about its territorial sovereignty and resources. There are some vital questions like, how will Pakistan translate the new political map into reality on the ground? Kashmir issue has always been a flashpoint between the two nations.
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Concerning the changing nature of the conflict, there seems to be a dire need to address this debate. One way is to adopt the regional pattern adopted in Afghan-Taliban talks. The global powers must play a significant role in this regard to push the parties for negotiations and ultimately reaching a consensus. For all this to happen, global powers and the international community must be unbiased towards countries and have a common will. Considering the current escalation of conflicts between different countries, this is very unlikely to happen.
Hajrah Waqas is currently pursuing her degree in International Relations from Szabist University, Islamabad. She has also done a 6 weeks internship at South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) University as a Research Intern. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.