Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday unveiled a “new political map” of Pakistan that includes Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) as part of the country’s territory for the first time.
The moves comes a day before Youm-e-Istehsal, which is being observed to mark the first anniversary of India launching demographic apartheid in IIOJK by dividing it into three parts and placing the region under military siege since then.
“This is a historic day in Pakistan’s history,” the premier said while addressing a news conference after chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet, which approved the new map.
He added that the new official map would henceforth be used in schools and colleges across the country. “The resolution of the Kashmir dispute only lies in the UN Security Council resolutions that clearly give the Kashmiri people the right to self-determination,” the premier said.
The prime minister pledged that Pakistan would continue its political struggle for the people of Kashmir. “We believe that the Kashmir dispute can only be resolved through political means. We don't believe in military solutions,” he added.
"Pakistan has always considered Kashmir as its part. “This [the new map] is a first step in that direction.”
The premier vowed that the country would repeatedly remind the UN of its promise to the people of Kashmir that remained to be fulfilled.
The new map, the prime minister said, was backed by all political parties of the country. “This map also opposes the Indian government’s illegal act on August 5 last year.”
Premier Imran elaborated that the only solution to the Kashmir issue was through the UN Resolution 39, adopted back on January 20, 1948. It gave the right to Kashmiris to either merge with Pakistan or India.
He noted that the Modi government was trying to shift people from India to Kashmir to turn its people into a minority in their own region.
Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi congratulated the entire nation and PM Imran for taking the “unprecedented step”. “For the first time in history our government has openly presented its stance before the world,” he said.
Qureshi said a plebiscite should be held in the Kashmir region under the watch of the UN to determine the future of the disputed territory.
Explaining the changes in the new map, the minister said it made it clear that the solution to the Kashmir dispute would be through the UN resolutions and as per the aspirations of the people.
Furthermore, the new map also shows Siachen as a part of Pakistan. “We are challenging their [India] illegal occupation and claiming our right to the area [through the map]," he added.
The map also rejects India's claims about Sir Creek. "We have denied the Indian claim that it [Pakistan’s border] goes towards the west. It [map] makes it clear that our border is on the east.
India’s claim, Qureshi added, was an attempt to capture several acres of land that were Pakistan's exclusive economic zone.
The new map also shows erstwhile FATA merged with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Qureshi said the entire nation was united on the new political map. “The federal cabinet, the Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan's political leadership have endorsed the move,” he added.
The minister added the move gave a clear message to the people of Kashmir that the Pakistani government had always stood by them and would continue to do so in the future.
"Our destination is Srinagar," he said.
Earlier in the day, the federal cabinet, under the chairmanship of PM Imran, discussed overall political and economic situation of the country and accorded approval to different agenda items.
Presiding over an All Parties Conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding law and order situation in IIOJK earlier in the day, FM Qureshi said had that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-inspired BJP government has sown seeds of hatred in the hearts of not only Kashmiris but also minorities in India.
All Kashmiris have categorically rejected the unconstitutional and unilateral measures taken by the Indian government on August 5 last year, he added.
PM Imran Khan, during a recent interview, has said that the Indian government's revocation of Article 370 in August 2019 turned the disputed region into an "open-air prison".
Article 370 was the basis of Kashmir's accession to the Indian union at a time when former princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from British rule in 1947.
The article, which came into effect in 1949, granted Indian-held Kashmir special status, with the Muslim-majority region given jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications. But many of those powers were gradually watered down by New Delhi.