Po­lit­i­cal ab­sur­dity: In­dia on Pak’s bound­ary map

FLASH­POINT Islamabad claims all of J&K, part of Gu­jarat; ridicu­lous, says MEA

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - Rezaul H Laskar and Im­tiaz Ah­mad let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: In­dia on Tues­day de­scribed as an “ex­er­cise in po­lit­i­cal ab­sur­dity” a new map is­sued by Pak­istan that lay 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 ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry 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.

Qureshi also said the map in­cludes Si­achen glacier as part of Pak­istan to chal­lenge the re­gion’s “il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion by In­dia”. He fur­ther said the map de­picts the bound­ary in the dis­puted Sri Creek re­gion of Gu­jarat ac­cord­ing to Pak­istan’s stated po­si­tion on the is­sue to chal­lenge In­dia’s claim.

Khan de­scribed the un­veil­ing of map as a “his­toric” move that he said was backed by his cab­i­net, the Kash­miri lead­er­ship and all of Pak­istan’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties. “The move re­flects the de­sires of the peo­ple of Pak­istan and Kash­mir and re­jects In­dia’s il­le­gal ac­tion of Au­gust 5 last year,” he said, speak­ing in Urdu.

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 map also de­picts the Ju­na­gadh and Manavadar re­gion of In­dia’s Gu­jarat state as part of

Pak­istan. The nawab of Ju­na­gadh had opted to ac­cede to Pak­istan in Septem­ber 1947, be­fore flee­ing from In­dia with his fam­ily the fol­low­ing month. Ju­na­gadh voted over­whelm­ingly to stay with In­dia in a plebiscite held in the re­gion in 1948. Ex­perts be­lieve Pak­istan has no le­gal ground for claim­ing the re­gion.

In­dia’s move to nul­lify Ar­ti­cle 370 last year had trig­gered a strong re­ac­tion from Pak­istan, with whom In­dia’s ties were then at an all-time low fol­low­ing the stand­off over the Pul­wama ter­ror at­tack. It was also op­posed by Pak­istan’s “iron brother” ally China, which be­lieved it would af­fect its ter­ri­to­rial claims in Ladakh, es­pe­cially af­ter In­dia in­cluded Ak­sai Chin re­gion in new maps of the union ter­ri­to­ries.

Pak­istan plans to ob­serve Au­gust 5 as “Youm-e-Istehsal” (day of ex­ploita­tion) and Khan is sched­uled to go to Muzaf­farabad, the cap­i­tal of Pak­istan-oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (PoK), to de­liver a speech. On Mon­day, Pak­istan’s for­eign and de­fence min­is­ters vis­ited ar­eas along the Line of Con­trol (LoC) to raise the Kash­mir is­sue.

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.

On Tues­day, Khan re­peated his al­le­ga­tion that In­dia is “try­ing to set­tle peo­ple from out­side so that Kash­miris be­come a mi­nor­ity”. He added: “The map is the first step and we will launch a po­lit­i­cal strug­gle. We don’t be­lieve in mil­i­tary so­lu­tions, we be­lieve in po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tions.”

Qureshi also said the Kash­mir High­way in Islamabad has been named the Sri­na­gar High­way. Sol­i­dar­ity walks, photo ex­hi­bi­tions and sem­i­nars will also be or­gan­ised to protest against al­leged atroc­i­ties in Jammu and Kash­mir, he said.

Aca­demic Hap­py­mon Ja­cob, who closely tracks In­dia-Pak­istan re­la­tions, said Islamabad should “stop mouthing the wornout 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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