The launching ceremony of CASA-1000 Power Project in front of a map in Tajikistan which depicted Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir as part of India caused great uproar on social media and other platforms in Pakistan. It is only a wonder why our own government did not take such an error more seriously, and the outcry was only addressed once the event was over. The map offends the common Pakistani as well as the people of Kashmir, especially Gilgit-Baltistan where opinion is generally favourable with regards to joining Pakistan.

The Foreign Office has given reassurances that this discrepancy was noted immediately on arrival at the site by the Pakistan delegation, particularly the political leadership in the delegation, and brought to the attention of the host country. The host government immediately took notice and regretted the error saying it was “not meant to be a map, as such, but a painting depicting the region without any focus on the boundaries of the countries”- a strange explanation to say the least. At the launch of a technical project, they should at least have their facts straight about the territory they are selling electricity to.

It is not that Pakistan claims the territory, but that its disputed nature must be recognised. The international community often makes these offensive errors. An important one has been the near elimination of the state of Palestine from maps. The official brochure, which was circulated among all the delegates at the ceremony, contained the map correctly depicting the boundaries of Pakistan. Perhaps it was only an oversight, but what it represented is a long battle of who is seen more powerful and sends out a global message that Kashmir, de facto, belongs to India.

India has recently publicised a draft geospatial bill, warning of fines of up to Rs. 100 crore and seven years of imprisonment, to companies that “wrongly depict borders” of their country. This is how seriously they take the matter. Pakistan should do the same regarding the sanctity of the country and this mistake should make the government officials take the matter very seriously in the future.