Oops, State Dept. Botches Map of Disputed Kashmir Region

Nov 21, 2011 3:33pm

Unlike Rick Perry’s “oops,” this one could have geopolitical consequences.

The U.S. State Department posted a faulty map on its website that alters some of the geographical boundaries of Kashmir, the disputed region between India and Pakistan, and depicted some area as part of Pakistan. The region has been a major source of tension between the two South Asian rivals since their partition in 1948.

The offending image has already been taken down, but it can still be seen in reports in the region.

“It did contain some inaccuracies which were associated with the boundaries of some geographic features,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters today. “This was unintentional. We’re going to get the map fixed and put up a fixed map.”

She said U.S. officials have already spoken to Indian officials to explain the mix up, but didn’t know if they had yet spoken with Pakistani officials.

Before you think it’s just a harmless map, remember that an erroneous Google map nearly caused a war between Costa Rica and Nicaragua last November when a Nicaraguan general used it to justify the occupation of an island claimed by Costa Rica.

And a 2008 typo by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, the official body under the U.S. Interior Department that lists the names and affiliations of locations around the world, mistakenly listed a string of islands claimed by both Japan and South Korea as “undesignated sovereignty” instead of belonging to South Korea, which is longstanding U.S. policy. The mistake led to a diplomatic spat.

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