Islamabad on Tuesday issued a new political map showing following territories as part of Pakistan: The “Indian illegally occupied” Jammu and Kashmir; Junagadh in Indian state of Gujarat; and the Sir Creek marshy lands in south.
The new map comes amid growing tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals and on the world watch.
South Asia analyst Michael Kugelman says, it’s “nothing like a well-timed cartographic strike to inject some more tensions into a relationship already skating on thin ice”.
Wednesday, August 5 marks one year of India’s revocation of special status of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir which straddles the Himalayan Valley.
The move shifted the status quo iceberg several degrees south.
Pakistan upped the ante –yesterday it brought the issue to Times Square with an attention grabbing message on Manhattan’s big screen.
Including Jammu and Kashmir, the long due settlement of disputes between the two neighbors include Junagadh and Sir Creek — these disputes have kept the two countries’ territorial integrity a 70-year old high noon.
“Official issue of political map by the government of Pakistan is more in line with regional trend, where the government of India issued a map of J&K, followed by Nepal and now its turn of Pakistan to stake our claim officially,” says a senior Pakistani military official. “So current action is justified and essential under current environment”.
The new map shows northeastern border unmarked with a “frontier undefined” rider, “which will be finalized on the settlement of the Kashmir dispute under UN resolutions,” says an observer in his note shared with us on WhatsApp.
In the south, Sir Creek, a 96-km uninhabited marshlands on the border between the two countries has been included in the updated map. The creek, a tidal estuary flows into the Arabian Sea and separates Gujarat state of India from the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Junagadh was gobbled by India on grounds that it’s a Hindu-majority princely state even though the ruler was a Muslim and had opted for Pakistan.
India flipped the argument in its favor when it came the matter of accession of Kashmir.
This led to 3 wars between the two neighbors.
“Our claim on Junagadh and Manavadar has once again been reinforced. Both territories were illegally occupied by India,” the observer’s note said.
When asked to comment on the new map, the senior Pakistani military official said, “I think it was always like that, it’s only that it’s been put in the media this time around”.
On Kashmir he says, “…no one will help Kashmir.”
“We’ve to fight for Kashmir…no one will serve us on a platter,” a defense official based in the Middle East told DesPardes earlier.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they’re not authorized to comment officially.
On being asked to comment on the buttoning up of territories in the updated map, an independent defense and security analyst based in Malaysia tells DesPardes, “Expect to hear from MEA in Delhi once they receive a copy”.
Yet another surprise Pakistan has thrown as a gauntlet, says another observer. “India, in my opinion wasn’t expecting this”.
Could be a way of responding to Delhi’s oft-repeated two-front battle narrative, says the observer. “Now it’s like taking the disputes to enemy’s doorstep”.
PM Khan unveiled the updated political map of Pakistan at an event earlier today –on the eve of first year of lockdown. His office said, “Revocation of Article 370 on Aug 5, 2019 by India has turned IIOJK – (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir) into an open-air prison, & it has been under military siege for 365 days. 8 million people are suffering with no human rights. Raise your voice for #IIOJKUnderSiege“.
The Pakistani parliament building is lit tonight (Pakistan Standard Time) with images from Kashmir, a WhatsApp picture shared with us showed.
The move is a civil-military ying yang and has taken local media by storm, an observer points out.