MUMBAI – India has described as political “absurdity” a map redrawn by Pakistan showing Indian territories of Kashmir and parts of Gujarat as part of its own land.
Pakistan is seen to have been emboldened to take such a step after recent Chinese incursions into Indian territories in Ladakh, the resulting skirmishes between troops of the two sides and the present stalemate.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan timed the release of the map with the first anniversary of the removal of the special status India had granted to its state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s redrawing of the map follows a similar move by Nepal, which included areas on its northwest tip at a tri-junction point with China that have been parts of India since a treaty in 1816.
Foreign policy analysts see the moves by Nepal and Pakistan as being inspired by China, which made several incursions into India’s territories in Ladakh, which was carved out of the Jammu and Kashmir state on August 5, 2019.
“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,’’ India’s Ministry of External Affairs said.
“These ridiculous assertions have neither legal validity nor international credibility.”
Pakistan has been seeking to wrest territories in Kashmir since it was carved out of India on August 15, 1947. The two countries have waged three wars, including one in December 1971, when the Indian Army created Bangladesh out of East Pakistan.
In the last major skirmish in in 1999, the Indian Army repulsed Pakistan’s encroachment into Kargil in Ladakh.
Pakistan leaders have over the decades openly declared in international forums their support for separatist fighters with money and materiel. Pakistan describes them as “freedom fighters” but India sees them as “terrorists.”
“This new effort only confirms reality of Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandizement supported by cross-border terrorism,’’ India’s Ministry of External Affairs said.
Pakistan occupies parts of the Gilgit and Baltistan areas of northern Kashmir that are mainly mountainous and has been seeking to make inroads in parts of the Kashmir valley.
China and Pakistan were incensed when India removed the special status from its state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, and hived off Ladakh as a special union territory administered by representatives of the central government.
Imran Khan yesterday said he plans to address today the assembly of the area Pakistan describes as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir”. Pakistan describes India’s Jammu and Kashmir as “Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, or IIOJK”.
“I will continue to be an ambassador for all Kashmiris whose voices India has tried to silence through its brutal illegal occupation of IIOJK,’’ Khan said.
“After many years, my government raised the Kashmir issue effectively before the UN and exposed the Hindutva supremacist fascism of the Modi government.’’
“We have also depicted the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and our commitment to UNSC resolutions in the political map of Pakistan released yesterday,” Khan said.