Centre Verifying Reports On Pak, China PoK Tango30 August 2010
The Economic Times
New Delhi: The Manmohan Singh government on Monday said that it was making “independent verification” of reports that hint a Pakistan handing over de-facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The government said it would be a matter of serious concern if the reports turn out to be true. “We have seen media reports and are seeking an independent verification of these reports. If true, it would be a matter of serious concern and we would do all that is necessary to ensure safety and security of the nation,” MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters on Monday. He was asked about the reports in The New York Times about the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Gilgit-Baltistan region in the PoK, which is closed to the world. According to the US newspaper, “China wants a grip on the strategic area to assure unfettered road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan”, and for this purpose it is building high-speed rail and road link. The link up would enable Beijing to transport cargo and oil tankers from eastern China to the new Chinese-built Pakistani Naval base at Gawadar, Pasni and Ormara in Balochistan, just east of the Gulf in 48 hours. “Many of the PLA soldiers entering Gilgit-Baltistan are expected to work on the railroad. Some are extending the Karakoram Highway, built to link China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan. Others are working on dams, expressways and other project,” the paper said. The report reinforces the view in the strategic community that China will once again use the Kashmir issue as a bargainic chip. India’s response to China’s involvement in construction and water management projects in PoK have so far been not quite forceful. Many believe that it is part of a well thought out strategy to keep India distracted towards the northern border.