Here’s Why Pakistan’s New Map Is More Realistic Than Previous One

Usman Khan argues that the new map issued by the government represented political realities better than the old map. He argues that the map also shows Pakistan's commitment to UN resolutions.


Prime Minister Imran Khan recently unveiled Pakistan’s new political map. The map received positive reviews with many Pakistani surprised at the inclusion Junagarh and Manavadar which are currently under the occupation of India. But was it really something to be surprised at?

The new political map is not much different in comparison to the old political map. The old one also held the areas of Junagarh and Manavadar but it was not taught in our textbook maps. However, the official maps contained those two princely states.

The reason behind it was because the two princely states acceded to Pakistan. Junagarh acceded on 15th September 1947 and Manavadar acceded on 24th September 1947. Both princely states were occupied by India in a military operation and Pakistan took the case to the UN Security Council as well. However, India held its own plebiscite and declared the area as part of its territory.

According to the Indian Independence Act 1947, a princely state had every right to accede to any of the dominions it wished and unlike Kashmir, the rulers of Junagarh and Manavadar had not lost their mandate through the usage of brute force on the local populace nor did they face any rebellion or attempts at revolution like Kashmir did.

The Indian government did not recognise any revolutionary government since there were none and displayed open aggression by annexing the legitimate territories of Pakistan. This was considered illegal and Pakistan has every right to claim such territory.

Both the old and new maps have showcased the same. However, it seems that by adding these areas to the new map and mentioning them specifically in the press conference, Pakistan is looking to create a diplomatic push for the return of these areas.

The claims of Sir Creek were also claimed in accordance with the claim line of Pakistan and this has been displayed in the new maps as well as the old maps. The new map does indeed highlight the 25th Amendment which saw the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and this single entity is a display that the current situation will not be reverted.

The major difference between the two maps is the inclusion of the Line of Control, which was not present in the old maps as the old map showed the entire area including the area of Gilgit Baltistan as part of state of Jammu and Kashmir. In the new map, the Line of Control is displayed which showcased the current ground situation. The area of Siachin has also been displayed as part of Pakistan.

Pakistan has done this to reiterate its position that the August 5 action by India was against all the UN resolutions.

Another interesting thing to notice in the new map is the separation of Gilgit Baltistan from Azad Kashmir. The two entities are demarcated with a provincial line which showcases that Pakistan will no longer treat Gilgit Baltistan as part of Kashmir.

It is common knowledge that Gilgit Baltistan is composed of two princely states i.e. Hunza and Nagar, both of which acceded to Pakistan legally and the remainder of the area of Gilgit Agency revolted against the Maharaja rule and acceded to Pakistan after declaring their independence. This act was recognised by the Azad government of Sardar Ibrahim in the 1949 Karachi agreement.

Pakistan has always stated that the Azad government and the Muslim Conference were the only legitimate government and legitimate political party of the people of the state of Kashmir, respectively.

Pakistan has reiterated this stand that the moment the revolt began, Pakistan immediately recognised the Azad government of Sardar Ibrahim and the Azad government received recognition as a political entity in Kashmir as the Local Authority in UN Resolution 80 and in Resolution 98 as well. By demarcating it as such, Pakistan has finally recognised the political entity of Gilgit Baltistan and its separate nature and history from the state of Kashmir which will be a small step towards answering the desperate pleas for political recognition for the people of Gilgit Baltistan.

The demarcation is in line with the decisions of the Pakistani Supreme Court which has declared the protection of the rights of the people of Gilgit Baltistan to be the responsibility of the Pakistani courts and government rather than it being the job of the AJK Supreme Court and Azad Kashmir government.

This is a bold new step and it will create ripples as it is true to the ground situation as well as the history of the region.

Lastly, the two other things that must be explained to the populace is the China-Pakistan border being called the ‘Working Boundary’ and the ‘Frontier Undefined’, which is present in both maps. The reason why both exists is due to the 1963 Sino-Pak agreement which saw Pakistan and China demarcate the border. The treaty was provisional in nature due to the Kashmir dispute and Article 6 of the agreement stated that;

“Article 6 The two parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the Government of the People's Republic of China on the boundary as described in Article.

Two of the present agreement, so as to sign a formal boundary treaty to replace the present agreement, provided that in the event of the sovereign authority being Pakistan, the provisions of the present agreement and of the aforesaid protocol shall be maintained in the formal boundary treaty to be signed between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

Now the above states that the treaty will be terminated post the solving of Kashmir dispute and the new sovereign authority will reopen negotiations with China thus the frontier is a working boundary. Does that mean that Pakistan will have to re-demarcate the border? Absolutely not.

Lastly, the ‘Frontier Undefined’ is on both maps. What does it mean and why it has been continued in this new map? The answer to this lies in Article 1 of the 1963 treaty which is;

“Article 1 In view of the fact that the boundary between China's Sinkiang and the contiguous areas the defence of which is under the actual control of Pakistan has never been formally delimited, two parties agree to delimit it on the basis of the traditional customary boundary line including features and in a spirit of equality, mutual benefit and friendly cooperation.”

Now in this Article both Pakistan and China agree that the border of the state of Kashmir has never been delimited nor defined which means that the boundary lines of Johnson Line, Macdonald-Macartney Line of 1899 and 1905 and the Karakorum Line, were all declared as non-official demarcation.

Now these lines were used by the British to demarcate the border all the way from Wakhan to Ladakh line to Tibet and these are the lines which are behind the 1962 conflict and the Sino-India dispute. Pakistan declared that these lines were not recognized by Pakistan thus the borders of Ladakh both on its north and east became undefined and these borders will be defined after the resolving of the Kashmir issue.

It does not mean that Pakistan has surrendered all claims beyond the vale to China. It simply means that Pakistan will demarcate these borders when it gains the rightful sovereign authority over those lands.

The new map is far more realistic and in line with the political situation of the country and the region than the old one. The issues regarding the map of Pakistan must be understood by each citizen of Pakistan so that we can better understand the political history of the country.

The writer is a lawyer and an animal rights activist working through his association B.R.U Law Associates and the NGO Pro-Nature. He can be reached via