China has skirted Pakistan’s attempt to exercise more control over Gilgit-Baltistan, a region that India maintains is a part of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and through which the $50 billion China-led CPEC project passes.Pakistan on May 21 approved the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan order, giving its Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi a chance to snatch more authority from the local council to deal with the affairs of the region.
China today refrained from making a direct comment on Pakistan’s apparent move to make Gilgit-Baltistan one of its provinces. The communist nation, however, said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which traverses through the region, will not affect its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan.
The corridor connects Kashgar in western China with Gwadar port in Pakistan, spanning 3,000 kilometres. The communist nation’s infrastructure push that closely mirrors its strategic ambitions is seen as one of the pain points in ties between India and China.
“Kashmir issue is a historical baggage between India and Pakistan and therefore shall be resolved between the two sides through dialogue and consultation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing today.
“We have stressed many times that the CPEC is an initiative for economic cooperation. This is a cooperation framework which serves the purpose of economic development and the people’s livelihood. This initiative does not affect our position on the Kashmir issue,” she said.
On Sunday last, people in Gilgit-Baltistan came out on the streets and clashed with the police over what they said was Pakistan’s attempt to override the region’s administration. Pakistani politicians from different parties in the region also came together to demand constitutional rights.India has already summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed Haider Shah the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan order, and told him that any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under his country’s forcible occupation has no legal basis.
In a statement on Sunday last, the foreign ministry said it has told Mr Shah that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called Gilgit-Baltistan areas, is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession in 1947.