GAME OF MAPS

It’s a measure of the further worsening of regional tensions that Pakistan came up with a new map this week. The new map released by Prime Minister, Imran Khan shows not just Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan, but also Ladakh and even the border district of Junagadh in Gujarat and Sir Creek in the vicinity as the Islamic nation’s very own.

Notably, a similar re-drawing of map was done by Nepal recently, to claim a part of the Indian land along its border. China makes a lot of claims about Indian land being its own, including Arunachal Pradesh and large swathes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and beyond. China has a problem with every nation in its neighbourhood vis-à-vis land. A new entrant to the game was Nepal; and now Pakistan is doing the same. This must be seen also as part of the Chinese games against India.

Making a claim for someone’s land means little. India has made claims too. New Delhi made it clear repeatedly about its claims over some Pakistan provinces like Gilgit Baltistan — and not just Occupied Kashmir, or PoK for that matter. No one hands over land to a neighbour on a platter, and the way forward is, principally, war or taking up the matter with the UN – where matters drag on for years.

Huge swathes of Indian land are with China, some 45,000 sq km, which it usurped in the 1992 War. India had left the matter aside and decided to break bread with China on the basis on an understanding that the two sides will explore the positives rather than wasting time on the negatives. That was the basis on which India engages in trade etc with China. Now China is raking up the issue of Kashmir at the UN; it did so for the third time, at the Security Council this week, also referring to the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre. China keeps giving repeated pin-pricks to India at the UN, in support of Pakistan.

Significantly, Imran Khan released the map a day before the first anniversary of the August 5 abrogation of Article 370 and re-classification of the state as three Union Territories. Khan’s offensive came also the day before the Shilanyas of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Khan on his own might not want a confrontation, but might be acting at the behest of the military brass and China. Nepal’s new map might also be China’s idea to put India on the defensive.

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