New Delhi: In a significant development, the Union Cabinet Thursday discussed the implications of ongoing Chinese projects in Gilgit and Baltistan which are part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), government sources indicated on Friday. New Delhi is monitoring developments in PoK carefully since India's stand has always been that it is Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan.
The projects being carried out by China in PoK are part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) global connectivity project that India has refused to join. India has been expressing its concerns to China as well on projects carried out in PoK but Beijing has so far ignored these concerns.
China and Pakistan have an all-weather strategic relationship spanning decades in all sectors
especially defence. China is interested in the CPEC since it gives it access to the Indian Ocean through the Baloch port of Gwadar in the shortest possible land-route from China through Pakistan. For Pakistan, the project is a chance to attract investment and avail of Chinese assistance in building infrastructure. Also, the Pakistan military is strongly backing the CPEC.
In response to a question at a weekly briefing, the MEA on Friday said Pakistan should vacate all areas under its illegal occupation, a reference to PoK. India had earlier this year reiterated its stand that it cannot participate in the Chinese One Belt One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project on account of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which “violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Earlier this year, the MEA had said, "Our position on OBOR/BRI is clear and there is no change. The so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The MEA had then added, "We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality, and must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity."