This article was written by Shaheer Shazib, a student in Karachi.
Yesterday the Pakistani government, in a spirit of nationalistic vigor, took out a new political map of the country. The updated map shows AJK and GB as integral parts of Pakistan, rather than a separate block of area which is simply administered by Pakistan, the map also lays a proper claim to Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as clarifies Pakistan’s position on the dormant disputes of Sir Creek and Junagadh and Manavadar.
While this act has simply been declared a mere symbolic move to show solidarity, it does indeed set Pakistan on the path for some practical changes in the region. Let’s analyze these step by step.
The move to show GB and AJK as integral Pakistani territory is a direct counter to the Indian narrative that the areas are legally and indisputably Indian. The update itself finally clarifies the governments stance on the area as past official maps have always either shown GB and AJK as disputed areas within Kashmir or Gilgit as Pakistani territory while the areas of Baltistan and AJK were shown to be disputed with Kashmir in its entirety.
Practically speaking, this is a small first step in about 70 years which gives in to the demands of natives of the area for official recognition as Pakistanis and lays a precedent for more constitutional rights to be given to the local populous, which has been an insistence of Natives ever since the dispute began. Let us not forget that the only reason GB is even administered by Pakistan today is due to the Gilgit scouts which fought against the forces of Hari Singh back in 1947 for the right to accede to Pakistan.
The regional assembly of GB has also passed multiple resolutions demanding a total merger with the Pakistani state, resolutions which have been since ignored by the central government. An updated map might just be the first step in accepting these legitimate native demands.
The move of showing IIOJK as Pakistani territory has been criticized by some as Pakistan taking away Kashmiris right to self-determination, a principle the Pakistani establishment has stood for since the dispute rose. According to the map’s citations though, that is not the case. The map clearly states that the area is illegally occupied by India and that any solution shall be in accordance with UNSC resolutions. The issued UNSC resolutions clearly stipulate that a solution shall be reached through a plebiscite in the region and hence the Kashmiri right to self determination is still preserved.
What this does show, in addition to solidarity with subjugated Kashmiris, is that Pakistan has finally adopted a forward policy in regards to Kashmir and refuse to sit down while India occupies them and enforces a demographic change through her settler colonial ambitions. The term “IIOJK”, a switch from the much common “IOJK” also shows
Pakistan’s intentions of officially challenging the instrument of accession signed by Hari Singh Dogra in favor of India, a stance Pakistan has unofficially stood with since 1947.
A very peculiar part of the new map is to finally reignite the dormant disputes of Sir Creek and Junagadh and Manavadar. The Sir Creek dispute is centered around the maritime boundary of India and Pakistan which in turn effects both countries Economic Exclusive Zone. The dispute has laid unresolved and untouched without any significant practical changes around it since 1968, when an international boundary was agreed upon.
The Junagadh and Manavadar issue precedes the Sir Creek dispute and goes back to 1947, the time at which princely states of the subcontinent were choosing which country to accede to. The Nawab of Junagadh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji was a Muslim while the princely state itself was predominantly Hindu. The Nawab had decided to accede to Pakistan which led to unrest in the area, Pakistan accepted the accession of Junagadh which eventually led to India imposing a blockade on the area which only exasperated unrest.
Fearing for his life, the Nawab fled to Karachi while India sent in troops which unilaterally held a plebiscite without Pakistani consent. The populous of the area overwhelmingly voted to accede to India despite UN and Pakistani calls that the plebiscite would not be legally viable.
The point of reigniting these disputes after so long is not so to practically win the dispute and exude influence in the area but more so to show Pakistan in an aggressive posture. The whole aim behind this in the first place is to create outcry in India; outcry which will again internationalize the issue and bring it to the forefront of world politics, something which needs to be done so to urgently find a solution to the dispute around Kashmir.
The takeaway from all of this though is that this map, which has been declared to be only symbolic, is the first small step in a journey which shall take some considerable time and effort. For the first time in a long time, Pakistan is finally staking its claim around Kashmiris and their right to self determination in a much more aggressive manner. More importantly, Pakistan now has some form of legitimacy in finally assimilating the areas of GB and AJK with Pakistan proper and accepting the natives of that area as indeed Pakistani, an identity they have related to since independence.
As we mark “Youm-e-istehsal”, let us remember the constant struggle our Kashmiri brethren have to go through every day to achieve their right of self-determination,
Disclaimer: This article was received by Team ProperGaanda as a submission. The views and thoughts expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Team PG’s.