According to the statement by the MEA, “This new effort only confirms the reality of Pakistan's obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism.”
Pakistan has unveiled a new political map incorporating Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Gujarat as its territories. “We are witnessing a revival of cartographic assertiveness in South Asia. Coming on eve of the anniversary of repealing of article 370 by Indian parliament would not be lost on anyone,” opine experts.
Responding to media queries related to the map, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement has termed it as “political absurdity”, and has stated that these “ridiculous assertions” have no legal validity or international credibility.
According to the statement by the MEA, “This new effort only confirms the reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism.” Adding, “This is 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.”
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies says, “Just a month ago, Nepal’s parliament passed a bill claiming the area of Kali, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as its territories. India rejected that on the grounds of historical agreements and its de facto control over them.
Now, Pakistan issued a new political map claiming territories of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. This was done just ahead of the anniversary of the abolition of Art 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. It does not alter the status quo, and only shows the frustration of the regime which came under pressure from the extremist groups after the abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by India last year. It wanted to send a message to its own people that like previous regimes, it is serious about Kashmir.”
“Pakistan has always claimed Jammu and Kashmir to be an integral part of its territory. Even the claims of autonomy and independence to the so-called Azad Kashmir is a façade without any meaning. Pakistan’s religious nationalism is incomplete without Kashmir being a part of it”, Prof Rajan says.
In his opinion, “Pakistan’s claim is a violation of Shimla Agreement which clearly stipulated- “In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971, shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this Line.” Pakistan is trying to alter the situation on paper (map) as well as by force on a day to day basis.
“We are entering a new phase of competitive nationalism in South Asia where territorial claims and counter-claims will continue.”
Brig Nalin Bhatia, an Indian Army veteran observes, “Pakistan releasing new maps to include whole of Jammu & Kashmir, Sir Creek, Junagarh and Manavadaras part of Pakistan is nothing but brinkmanship and an irresponsible act of the highest order. The latest move by Pakistan is bound to exacerbate tensions not only along LOC but entire Indo Pak border.”
“Printing of new maps by that country adds a new dimension to the worsening relations between India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s act is not symbolic but taken with a devious mindset to escalate tensions,” says the army veteran.
“The current step is similar to all actions of Pakistan since independence that have shown a recklessness behaviour. Beginning with raids by the tribals in J&K in 1948 to the occupation of Kargil heights half a century later, its actions have been erratic and have led to the loss of face for its armed forces. Pakistan’s latest move to rock the boat is similarly an unthoughtful step with a potential for future conflicts and instability,” Brig Bhatia opines.
“Pakistan’s support to global terrorism is well known. Its current step will only bring it into the category of nations that global community is wary of dealing with. And, its latest move coming at a time when the situation along Indo China border is tense should not be lost on us. Another of our friendly neighbour has gone ahead and printed his own set of new maps. The linkages to the series of developments would be hard to miss.
India would need to step up the vigil and prepare for the worst-case scenario, not only J&K but along entire Indo Pak borders and coastal areas along Gujrat,” the Indian Army veteran concludes.
Says, Ambassador Anil Trigunayat, “I find this bizarre ‘cartographic aggression ‘ an attempt to draw India into multiple theatres of conflicts. Most likely accentuated by Chinese attempts and nod to change the status quo. First Nepal and now Pakistan -new Sino- centric caucus is emerging in the neighbourhood and will need a concerted and well-calculated firm and no-nonsense strategic response to such ingress and nuisance.”
According to Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU, “Pakistan’s new claims on Junagadh and to all of Jammu and Kashmir is obviously ridiculous. It is unclear why they would raise this issue now. It changes little on the ground but it adds an additional unnecessary wrinkle to any future negotiation or dialogue with Pakistan. Indeed, it makes any dialogue with Pakistan even more difficult and further antagonizes India, especially since it comes in the middle of India’s confrontation with China in Ladakh. But it is also a reflection on Indian policy.”
“Reputation matters in international politics. This may suggest that Indian passivity and defensiveness along the LAC is costing India in unexpected ways, by further eroding perceptions of Indian capacity and credibility. In this way at least, this represents a problem for India, one which will be difficult for India to overcome,” Prof Rajagopalan observes.