India asks China to stop work in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

20 May 2016

India has asked China to stop all activities in parts of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by Pakistan, the external affairs ministry said Friday. China is undertaking construction activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of its economic corridor project.

Vikas Swarup, the ministry spokesperson, told reporters here that the issue of "Chinese activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have been taken up with the Chinese side, including at the highest level,"

"Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India... We have asked them to cease all activities (there)," Swarup said.

China is believed to have made huge investments and is sponsoring development projects in Pakistan-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, including in the volatile Shia-dominated Gilgit-Baltistan area.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is planning to introduce a bill in Parliament known as the 'Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016', which will make it illegal for local and international geospatial mapping organisations along with individuals to depict India's map 'incorrectly'.

The draft bill particularly mandates that the states of 'Arunachal Pradesh' and 'Jammu and Kashmir', including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan regions, are to be depicted as union territories of India across all mapping groups in the world.

This includes navigation devices, paper maps and online depictions of South Asia. Any organisation or person (including Google and subsidiary Google Earth) failing to abide by the proposed bill will be liable to hefty penalty.

Pakistan is contesting this bill saying it is not in line with established norms of international law and is planning to approach the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) regarding the legislation of the bill.

According to Pakistan, by introducing the geospatial mapping bill, India is not only breaking international law but also forcefully trying to depict a neighbouring country's region as its own.

Pakistan said it would aggressively lobby in the international community to force India to withdraw the controversial legislative draft bill.

The reality is that the regions of Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are an integral part of India forcibly occupied by Pakistan and the people of the region have been fighting Pakistani occupation ever since.

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