Google Maps to settle Afghanistan/Pakistan border dispute – Oh, really?

The disputed border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Source: Al Jazeera

Last week this article appeared on The Guardian website suggesting that Google Maps were going to help settle the dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan over their shared border.

Pakistan and Afghanistan plan to use Google Maps to help settle a border dispute that led to deadly clashes last week, officials from both sides have said.

“Oh really?” I thought. Maybe the key word here is ‘help’ – maps and GPS might be a tool to help the negotiators visualise a border but only if both sides can agree on where that border should/might/could be.

After viewing the current border on Google Maps and Earth, I was pondering a lengthy blog post about the history of the border dispute, the challenges of agreeing a border that runs through historical tribal lands now split between two states and the challenging terrain. Then I got asked by BBC US to do an interview with The World which you can read here or listen to the interview

Interesting how many people think that Google Maps is a ‘map of record’ that has authority.

It was a new experience being interviewed for radio, not sure I like the way my voice sounds but I guess those of you who know me have got used to that.

Bottom line – states agree borders, maps and GPS are tools to record that agreement.

More info – read Wikipedia on the Durand Line, Al Jazeera on the recent dispute