When I posted this video where I asked people in Pakistan if they could say one nice thing about India, the responses people gave were overwhelmingly positive. But this map when was shown only for a few seconds, outraged a lot of people, Indians in particular.

Where This Map Is From

The map below is from the Wikipedia page titled “Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts“. You can see a clean cut border running down between Pakistan in green and India in orange. But this is a de-facto map of the border between India and Pakistan. De-facto meaning what exists in actuality, despite official or legal status as is the case in these other de-facto places. When you look at a Google Map of the region, you see a lot of dotted lines. In other words, things are not so clear cut on the ground as the solid line on Wikipedia would suggest.

india pakistan kashmir

If you’re already thinking whoa, these de facto geopolitical situations are touchy topics, well then, just wait until we get to the Kashmir region in the northern parts of the India Subcontinent.

jammu kashmir borders

Finding Kashmir


Kashmir is a region of 180,000 kilometers at the very north of the Indian subcontinent. It’s mostly mountains with the Himalaya and Karakorum ranges cutting through the region along with three rivers, the Chenab, Indus, and Jehlum. Kashmir is bordered by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan.

Now, in practice when you hear people say “Kashmir” that refers to the Kashmir valley but also the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, which are administered by India – and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, administered by Pakistan, and Aksai Chin and the Tran-Karakoram Tract, administered by China. Of this total land area, India controls about 55% (covering 70% of the total population), Pakistan 35% of the land area, and China about 20%.

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1947 Split

1947 was a very important year historically for this part of the world. Up until this point for the previous 300-plus years the British colonized and ruled large parts of the India subcontinent. When Britain decided to hastily leave the Indian subcontinent, they broke it into two independent dominions – Muslim majority Pakistan and India. The guy Britain selected to draw up these borders was Cyril Radcliffe. He was not a political or regional expert, but rather a lawyer. He had also never been to the Indian subcontinent.

india pakistan border visit

Britain gave Radcliffe 5 weeks to draw up a border between India and Pakistan – again, a part of the world he had never been to and clearly did not understand.

Radcliffe cut through the Punjab and Bengal states and the effect of his drawing of lines on a map was a refugee crisis of somewhere between 10-20 million people. The violence that ensued as Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs migrated en masse to get to the “right” side of the border lead to an estimated 200,000 to 2 million deaths.

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Drawing Controversy

Once the borders were drawn up, an independent Pakistan and independent India both claimed the state of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to 3 wars, the first being the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Since those wars there have been countless skirmishes and to this day, we have dotted lines on a map.

Except this map on Wikipedia, which is what lead to the controversy in my original video.

See, if you look at detailed maps of Kashmir, you see the dotted lines and that’s because India, Pakistan, and China all lay claims to the region, either partially or in it’s entirety. In practice though after all of the wars and over military build ups, parts of Kashmir are under Indian, Pakistani, and Chinese control.

The line of this map is controversial because the region is disputed. In some people’s eyes on both sides, all of Kashmir belongs to their country. Essentially, to a lot of Indians and a lot of Pakistanis, Kashmir historically and culturally belongs to their nation. In practice though Kashmir is a region divided by three nations, millions of people, and a lot of bad blood over nearly a century.