The discussion around the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, turned into a diplomatic war of words on Tuesday when India “firmly” rejected Pakistan’s objections to the draft Bill, saying Islamabad does not have any right to object to an internal “legislative matter” of India.
“The proposed bill is an entirely internal legislative matter of India, since the whole of the State of J&K is an integral part of India. Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs.
The draft Geospatial Information Bill plans to bring in a set of legally binding regulations regarding the geospatial information of India which may include provisions to penalise inaccurate depiction of India in maps. .
The MEA’s response came after Pakistan wrote to the UN Secretary General raising “serious concerns” over the draft Bill, specifically criticising the depiction of Jammu and Kashmir in the bill as “incorrect and legally untenable”.
Invokes international law Earlier, in Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement saying it has expressed “serious concern” to the UN over a draft bill in the Indian Parliament over the map of Kashmir and has asked the world body to uphold its resolutions and urge India to stop such acts which are in “violation of international law.”
The letter from Pakistan stated: “Through the passage of this Bill, the Indian government would penalise the individuals and organizations who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.”
Reacting to Pakistan’s letter, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said it was the duty of the government to ensure that India’s geography is projected properly.
“We don’t take cognisance of Pakistan’s objection. We will take suggestions of citizens and various stakeholders before finalisation. But it is the duty of the government [to ensure] that India’s map is depicted properly,” he told reporters.
India rejects Pakistan protests over geospatial Bill
In its letter to the UN Secretary General, Islamabad said: “In violation of UNSC resolutions, the official map of India has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India which is factually incorrect and legally untenable.” Former diplomats said Pakistan’s decision to raise the issue at this point caters to the domestic audience.
“Pakistani establishment has a habit of taking up old imagined maps of Pakistan in which they claim territories like Hyderabad. The objections on Geospatial Information Regulation Bill is continuation of the same old territorial aspiration of the Pakistani state,” said former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal. Pakistan’s observations on the depiction of J&K marks the first time that a Bill has drawn diplomatic opposition from a neighbouring country.
Former diplomat T.P. Srinivasan said India was right in reminding Pakistan that it cannot interfere in former’s decision to have its own maps and regulations regarding the geospatial data.
India and Pakistan are caught in a diplomatic standoff on a draft regulation Bill