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India’s Map Perfidy

India has just committed an act of cartographic perfidy by illegally annexing the territory of disputed State of Jammu and Kashmir State and has gone a step further by redrawing the illegal borders into spurious new maps of the State. The State of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed state that as per the Independence Act had to accede either to India or Pakistan, comprised three main geographical entities i.e Jammu comprising Hindu and Muslim population, Valley of Kashmir nestled between Pir Panjal and Great Himalayas (90% Muslim), the mountainous Ladakh in the North comprising Leh(66% Buddhists), Kargil Districts (77% Muslims) and Gilgit-Baltistan comprising over 98% Muslim population. Due to Indian obduracy in reneging on UN resolutions backed commitments to hold a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of people of the State to join either India or Pakistan, the Kashmiris took up arms resulting in 1948 War between India and Pakistan.

The 1948 War parcelled the State of Jammu and Kashmir between two states with the Ceasefire Line separating the two armies controlling their respective portions of the erstwhile princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. The legal status as per the Indian Independence Act as well as the subsequent UN Resolutions i.e UN Security Council Resolutions 39 and 47, was that a plebiscite under UN supervision was to decide the status of the State, either to form part of Pakistan or the Indian Union. While Pakistan has scrupulously kept its part of the bargain to keep the disputed status alive without annexing any area including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (part of Jammu and Kashmir Valley) and Gilgit-Baltistan (Geographically contiguous to Ladakh) India has annexed its part of the State in violation of its own constitution as well as international law.

Indians after taking the disputed territory’s case to the United Nations Organization in 1948 had granted a special status to the entire State after UN brokered ceasefire through Article 370 of Indian Constitution. Under that Act the State legislature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir could legislate to make a special set of laws applicable to the state. As per that provision along with another Article 35A, the Jammu and Kashmir state’s residents lived under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to residents of other Indian states. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir, thereby preventing the alteration of the demographic profile of the State. In one fell swoop the government of India encroached upon the Kashmiri rights in blatant violation of international law.

In Kashmir’s case Indians have resorted to “Modimandering” of the political and geographical realities to assuage the Hindutva votaries’ irredentist sensibilities

By revoking the Article 370 India invaded Article 3 and 367 of its own constitution besides riding roughshod over the stipulations of UN Security Council Resolutions 39, and 47 that called for holding of a plebiscite in the State after withdrawal of the forces, mutually agreed by both countries and validated by the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP). Pakistan’s principled stance that the State of Jammu and Kashmir had entered into a “Standstill Agreement” with the government of Maharaja Hari Singh precluded accession with India and Indian insistence on a controversial accession under duress by Hari Singh kept the plebiscite option hanging in the balance. As per Indian Constitutions’ Article 3 the State legislature of Jammu and Kashmir had to recommend any change on the status of Article 370 before its revocation by the Indian legislature. As per another interpretation only the original constituent assembly of the State of J&K had the constitutional power to recommend any change in the Article 370 and since that assembly stood dissolved the option of revocation of the special status of the State also stood foreclosed.

Article 367 is the interpretation clause of the Constitution. In Article 367 the Presidential Order has inserted a new sub-clause (4)(d) which states that the words “Constituent Assembly” in Article 370(3) must be read as “Legislative Assembly of the State”. This is a clear case of legal perfidy as the constituent assembly of the State of J&K that stood dissolved in 1957 could by no stretch of legal imagination be deemed to be replaced by the present legislative assembly of the State which currently stands dissolved with the State under Governor’s rule. The Indians thus have trampled over both their own constitution as well as international law in their supercilious quest for annexation of the State of J&K to the Indian Union. After doing the unthinkable the entire State has been put under a lock down, a euphemism for permanent curfew and repression of the hapless population.

The Indians are so drunk with the hauteur of their illegal act that they have not paused to analyze the legal repercussions of their annexation of the State of J&K. In their haste to make a false claim they have altered the maps of the State by showing Ladakh and Jammu as Indian Territory along with including Pakistan controlled Azad Jammu &Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan territories in their maps. Had it not been for the human catastrophe’s poignant impact the Indian cartographic fraud would have passed off as another burlesque comedy amongst several in Modi’s Hindutva folly. This however is a serious matter since it attempts to con the international community into a disbelief based on these new fake maps. The Indian cartographic perfidy needs to be fully exposed in front of the world community due to its potential to destabilize the nuclear armed region into war frenzy.

The deliberate Indian provocation after creating false facts and then attempting to sanctify those through cartographic formalization needs international censure for two main reasons. One is the impact of these false maps on the regional peace. The Indian occupation of Siachen Glacier in 1984 brings its forces perilously close to the Shaksgam Valley under Chinese control where China has strategic interests. The region might see a re-enaction of 1962 Sino-India conflict as a consequence of Indian miscalculations at a strategically sensitive defacto border with China whose dejure status shows it to be a disputed territory. The Siachen-Shaksgam confluence has now become a strategic powder keg due to latest Indian attempts to bluff and bully-bluffing the world and bullying the Kashmiris! Pakistan needs to call this bluff through a two pronged strategy. One prong should focus on sensitizing the world of the fraud being perpetrated by a Hindutva driven xenophobic Indian leadership by taking up a formal complaint with the UN as well as other relevant fora.

Second prong should concentrate on correction and standardization of own maps in order to present to the world an accurate political, legal, and geographic reality in standard as well as digitized formats. Indian perfidy and constant tampering with the political realities of a disputed Kashmir State can be best understood by the international community through an elegant variation on a popularly understood term of gerrymandering in the West. In Kashmir’s case Indians have resorted to “Modimandering” of the political and geographical realities to assuage the Hindutva votaries’ irredentist sensibilities. The “Modimandering” of Kashmir through revocation of Article 370 and printing of false maps would fuel conflict and instability in the destitute subcontinent where the fear of a nuclear winter is the biggest motivation for the world community to see through Modi’s map recent map perfidy.

The writer is a PhD scholar at NUST;rwjanj@hotmail.com

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