82 stranded Pakistanis due to return from India on July 9 — Foreign Office 

Pakistani rangers stand next to Wagah border Pakistan. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 07 July 2020

82 stranded Pakistanis due to return from India on July 9 — Foreign Office 

  • FO spokesperson says 114 Indian nationals to also be repatriated that day
  • Around 500 Pakistanis have returned home via Attari-Wagah border crossing since coronavirus outbreak began in March 

ISLAMABAD: A group of 82 Pakistanis stranded in India because of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak are scheduled to return to Pakistan on Thursday, the foreign office said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Indian government had requested local authorities to assist in the movement of Pakistani nationals to the Attari-Wagah border crossing from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. 

The Pakistan government has also directed Pakistan’s paramilitary Rangers to help repatriate Indian citizens via Wagah following “necessary health security protocols.”

“We are expecting our stranded nationals to return on July 9,” foreign office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told Arab News, adding that 114 Indian nationals would be repatriated to India that day and 82 Pakistanis would cross back into Pakistan.

Around 500 Pakistanis stranded in India have returned home via the Attari-Wagah crossing since March 20, the foreign office said, adding that the process would continue until all remaining nationals had returned.

“In these extraordinary times defined by the coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan believes that international cooperation and collective action as one big human family is the need of the hour,” Farooqui said. “On our part we have cooperated within the region and beyond to facilitate our own nationals and those visiting Pakistan from abroad to repatriate to their countries as smoothly as possible.”

Arch-rivals for decades, relations between India and Pakistan have been particularly strained since August 2019 when Pakistan suspended almost all trade and transport ties with India after New Delhi revoked autonomy and statehood for the Himalayan Kashmir region it administers — territory also claimed by Islamabad.

Neither country currently has a permanent ambassador in place and in the last month, ties have worsened as each country has accused the other of illegally detaining and torturing its diplomats.

In May, India expelled two Pakistani diplomats after they were held for alleged spying, claims Islamabad has called “baseless”. India also said last month it would expel half the staff in Pakistan’s embassy in New Delhi over alleged spying by officials there, prompting Islamabad to say it would respond in kind.

Pakistan’s new 'political map' projects decades-old position on Kashmir, experts say

Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan’s new 'political map' projects decades-old position on Kashmir, experts say

  • Maps are not without significance in international law and global litigation over territorial disputes, top legal expert says
  • Opposition urges government to circulate map among all embassies and international forums to convey official position on disputed territory

ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan has exercised its executive authority by formally laying claim to the disputed Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir in a new political map, experts said on Wednesday, adding that the move was in line with the country’s decades-old position on Kashmir since it had always maintained that the region was illegally occupied by India.
Prime Minister Imran Khan unveiled Pakistan’s new map on Tuesday, showing the entire area of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan as its territory. The decision was made in response to a similar step taken by India which released its own political map in October last year depicting Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, both territories governed by Pakistan, as being part of India.
The Muslim majority Himalayan valley of Kashmir remains disputed between the two South Asian neighbors since 1947. Both claim it in full but rule only parts of it. Both countries have also fought at least two full-scale wars over the territory, making the world community describe the region as a potential nuclear flashpoint.
Last year, India revoked the special status of the disputed Himalayan region’s autonomy.
“By issuing this map, Pakistan has exercised its executive authority to document its position regarding its territorial dispute with India,” Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a top Pakistani expert of international law, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistan’s action was well within the framework of international law and in keeping with the relevant United Nations resolutions promising plebiscite in the region.
“Pakistan has also reiterated its stance [through the map] that India’s illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir through last year’s presidential decree is not recognized by it,” he said, adding that territorial claims over disputed regions could be exercised through legislation, executive action and judicial pronouncements.
“Pakistan’s decision to use the executive authority in this case may also be followed by its legislative action,” he said.
Soofi said the new map would help Pakistan contest its case over Kashmir at international forums, including the UN.
“Maps are not without sanctity and significance in international law and global litigation over territorial disputes,” he said.
Pakistan’s foreign office said the new map was “essential for firmly rejecting the political map issued by India” last year, adding that New Delhi had made “false territorial claims on Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.”
“The political map emphatically reasserts Pakistan’s stated position [on Kashmir],” Aisha Farooqui, the foreign office spokesperson, told Arab News.
“Pakistan’s consistent stance on Jammu and Kashmir, anchored in the United Nations Security Council resolutions stipulating that the accession of the state will be through a UN-supervised plebiscite, is further reinforced as the map reaffirms this position,” she said.
The country’s largest opposition party in parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), also endorsed the new map while urging the government to utilize all international avenues to get the dispute resolved peacefully.
“The government should clarify if it will be using the same map at international forums like the UN, or is it just for domestic consumption,” Muhammad Zubair, former governor of Sindh province and a senior PML-N leader, told Arab News.
He said that Pakistan should circulate the new map among all the embassies and international forums to tell the world about its position on the disputed territory. “The new map will be useless if it is only for optics,” Zubair said. “Let’s see how the government proceeds ahead with it.”
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an Islamabad-based academic and expert in international relations, termed Pakistan’s decision to unveil the new map a “wise move.”
“This is a complete map of Pakistan showing our rightful claim over the disputed Kashmir region,” he said, “though it only seems to be for domestic consumption at the moment.”