Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's new book has become the latest publication to trip over the cartographic tangle of the India-Pakistan border.
Publisher Random House has recalled all advance copies of the book in India and delayed its release here due to errors in a map of the two countries at the time of the Partition, which wrongly showed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir shaded in the same colour as that of Pakistan.
Titled Pakistan: A Personal History, the book was launched in the United Kingdom over the weekend, but was scheduled to be released in Indian bookshops on Wednesday. Advance copies had already been sent to the media for review. However, on the scheduled date of release, Random House recalled the 30-odd advance copies, reportedly due to the errors in the map.
Sources at the publishing house say the book is now likely to be released next week after the offending pages are replaced with a map that India considers accurate.
In this case, Random House seems to have taken pre-emptive action before any official complaint. The international media often faces the brunt of the government's displeasure, with The Economist magazine forced to use a blank sticker to cover up a map showing the current effective border in its May 2011 edition. The Customs Department has also been known to stamp offending publications with the following legend: “The external boundaries of India as depicted are neither accurate nor authentic.”
Incidentally, Random House faced a similar problem in Pakistan a few years ago, when the establishment there objected to a map which they considered inaccurate in journalist Nicholas Schmidle's book titled To Live or To Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan.