Pakistan rakes up Kashmir issue with maps bill protest

United Nations, May 24 (IANS) Bemoaning lack of international support for its cause, Pakistan has tried to rake up the Kashmir issue at the UN by protesting against a draft Indian maps bill that seeks to punish “wrong or false” depictions of India’s boundaries.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council President Abdellatif Aboulatta of Egypt, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi wrote that India’s draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill was “contrary to Security Council resolutions” and asked for UN intervention.

“Sadly, the international community and the United Nations have failed to take notice of this action of India” in depicting all of Kashmir as Indian territory, she said in the letter released to the media by the UN on Tuesday.

Earlier reacting to a Pakistani Foreign Office press release on the maps bill, Indian external affairs ministry said the matter “is an entirely internal legislative matter of India, since the whole of the state of J&K is an integral part of India. Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter.”

India “firmly rejects Pakistan’s repeated and increasing attempts to impose on the international community matters that India has always been open to address bilaterally with Pakistan,” said the statement issued last week.

The draft of Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, which has not been introduced in Parliament but only circulated for feedback, proposes fines and imprisonment for “any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries”.

While Lodhi asserted that Pakistan’s position of showing Kashmir as disputed territory “is also reflected in the official maps of the United Nations”, a random check by IANS showed that maps by the UN and international agencies are inconsistent in how the state is displayed.

A UN map of the physical features of India tried to skirt controversy by framing it without the top portion where Kashmir would appear.

The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) shows Jammu and Kashmir with the “Line of Control as promulgated in the 1972 Simla Agreement”.

One UNICEF map showed all of Kashmir as a part of India, another displayed Kashmir separately, and yet another had the Pakistan-occupied portion outside India.

UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) left out the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir from India, while UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) India page shows all of Kashmir as a part of India on the page logo.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

–IANS

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