Earlier today, PM Imran Khan proudly announced that the official map of Pakistan would now include Indian illegally-occupied Kashmir as part of its territory. While a great nationalistic move applauded by the rest of Pakistan, the question arises: what does changing the map to include Kashmir even accomplish? Does it really bring the world one step closer to the liberation of Kashmir?
Changing the map is indisputably a symbolic move. There is no denying that. It is meant to reassure the people of Kashmir that they are in the thoughts of Pakistan, that Pakistan has not given up on them and that, one year after India’s abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution, their suffering will not be in vain. Changing the map certainly accomplishes that. But what else does it accomplish?
Changing the map doesn’t really change anything. Anyone can Photoshop or edit anything to look like anything. On a purely practical level, it not only accomplishes anything in terms of moving forward, but it also portrays Pakistan in an almost childish light on an international level – choosing to change maps and make face-value changes rather than taking constructive steps forward.
What changing the map does accomplish, however, is it provokes India. Symbolism tends to be just as, if not more, provocative as cross-border gunfire. So Pakistan can sit pleased with itself that it has insulted India. But, again – what does that insult accomplish? If anything, it incentivises India to be even more brutal and oppressive in its treatment of the Kashmiri people.
Besides, the few symbolic benefits offered by the move, i.e. reassuring the people of Kashmir, could be offered by other steps without provoking India to this extent and endangering the Kashmiri people. The protests organized tomorrow on Youm-e-Istehsal already are meant to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir and they do so without endangering them.
Either way, however, one thing that cannot be denied is that this crisis has gone far too long. If changing the map somehow brings us one step closer to solving the crisis, I fully support it. But, it is hard to see how it could do that.