Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday unveiled a new “political map of Pakistan” that counts Jammu and Kashmir and Junagadh in Gujarat as its territories. “This is the most historic day in Pakistan’s history,” Khan said at a news conference after getting cabinet approval for the map.
India’s foreign ministry dissed Imran Khan’s Pakistan for its obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism.
“This is an exercise in political absurdity, laying untenable claims to territories in the Indian State of Gujarat and our Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and of Ladakh. These ridiculous assertions have neither legal validity nor international credibility,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a brief statement.
“In fact, this new effort only confirms reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism,” Srivastava said, referring to the ‘so-called political map’ released by Imran Khan.
An Indian official had earlier described Islamabad’s effort to publish the document as a “cartographic hallucination”.
Imran Khan’s move comes a day ahead of the first anniversary of the Indian government tabling in parliament the legislation to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and splitting the erstwhile state into two centrally-administered territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Imran Khan’s government has already worked out a long list of programmes to commemorate the first anniversary, including requests to its partners such as China and Turkey to issue statements, or tweets that criticise India.
Over the last one year, Pakistan has made several attempts to raise the change in Jammu and Kashmir’s status from a state to a union territory at several international fora but hasn’t been able to get much traction. Khan’s government, nevertheless, counts its effort as a huge success. Imran Khan counted it as his government’s biggest success.
A Pakistan watcher in New Delhi said Imran Khan’s decision to issue the map reflected a desperation at some level to show his constituency back home that he was making progress. It also suits Imran Khan’s ‘iron brother’ Xi Jinping’s China who feels that India is getting aggressive and the rise of India needs to be monitored and checked, he said.
The new map also comes at a time the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is coming under increasing pressure.
There are reports that Baloch and Sindhi separatist groups in Pakistan have announced they are forming an alliance to attack Chinese interests. On July 25, Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar, or BRAS, a consortium of four Baloch separatist organizations, announced in a media release an alliance with the Sindudesh Revolutionary Army, or SRA, a little known separatist group operating in southeastern Sindh province. Balochistan is another province in the southwest. This development could increase security costs for Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan.
At his news briefing on Tuesday, PM Khan said the newly-launched map is backed by all political parties of the country which he said support the principled stance of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “This map also opposes the Indian government’s illegal act of August 5 last year,” he added.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi described the map as an “unprecedented step”.
“For the first time in history, our government has openly presented its stance before the world,” he said.
In the same vein, Qureshi informed that the Kashmir Highway in Islamabad is being named Srinagar Highway. Solidarity walks, photo exhibitions and seminars will be arranged with coronavirus related SOPs in consideration to raise voices against Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir, said Qureshi.