Monday, February 27, 2006

New Map for Kashmir

The Daily Times reports that Pakistani embassies abroad are floating a new map of Kashmir - a map that deviates from the traditional position of Pakistan on the issue:
The map shows the Northern Areas of the state, which have been officially considered an integral part of the former princely state, as a separate entity, identified simply as the “Northern Areas”. The Line of Control, formerly the Ceasefire Line, has been removed on the map. The entire state, both the Indian-held part and Azad Kashmir, has been shown as one, single, undivided entity, identified as ‘Jammu and Kashmir state’ with the words “disputed territory” appearing in very small letters under this appellation.
Two things to be noted: Contrary to Pakistan's age-old stance, the Northern Areas are not being considered as part of Kashmir. But then are the Northern Areas to be treated as another autonomous region or as a federally administered area? Or what? Confusion lingers. Secondly, the whole of Kashmir has been termed as "disputed territory" - a significant deviation. I am not sure, what to make of it. Maybe, this map has been released to test the waters - to gauge how people would react to any major deviation from the hackneyed Pakistani stance. On the other hand, it can be considered as yet another signal to India: that Pakistan is willing to give ground and have some serious discussion over the issue. It may also be an attempt to score a point with the Kashmiris - Pakistan does not want to divide the Kashmiri families.

Or it may just be a simple map. But interesting nonetheless.