Pakistan has conveyed its concern to the UN over the depiction of Jammu and Kashmir in India’s draft geospatial information bill, saying the world body should stop acts that violate international law.
The draft bill, which triggered protests from India’s internet activists, envisages stringent penalties for the wrong depiction of India in maps, including a fine of up to Rs 100 crore and a jail term of up to seven years. It also proposes to restrict the use of real-time mapping of data.
“Pakistan has expressed serious concern to the UN Secretary General and the President of the UN Security Council, through letters by our permanent representative in New York, with regard to the Indian government’s efforts to introduce a controversial ‘Geospatial Information Regulation Bill’ in the Indian Parliament,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad.
Pakistan contended that India’s official map was “depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India” in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. It described the Indian map as “factually incorrect and legally untenable”.
“Through the passage of this bill, the Indian government would penalise the individuals and organisations who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory as per the United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the statement said.
Pakistan’s letter called on the UN to uphold the Security Council resolutions and “urge India to stop such acts which are in violation of international law”.
“We have urged the international community and the UN to fulfil their commitment with the people of Jammu and Kashmir by holding an independent and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices,” the statement said.
India has for long insisted that the Kashmir issue must be settled bilaterally and without the intervention of a third party. Pakistan’s current government has repeatedly raised Kashmir at the UN and asked the world community to play a role in resolving the dragging issue.
The term geospatial refers to data and images associated with a particular location and collected through cameras on satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft and balloons.
India says the objective of the bill is to regulate geospatial data for several reasons including securing the country’s strategic installations from enemy eyes.
Many applications give a 360 degree view of important towns and cities around the world which, security agencies believe, could be used by terrorist groups to plan attacks without risking a recce mission.
Indian investigators who probed the 2008 Mumbai attack believe that Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were shown their targets on apps such as Google Earth by their handlers prior to the strike. Such apps came under the scanner again after the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base in January.