ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Saturday stated that instead of criticising the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as one which runs through “disputed territory”, the international community should instead focus on human rights violations and heinous crimes committed by Indian occupation forces in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). China's foreign ministry also rejected US concerns on the CPEC .
"CPEC is a development and connectivity project for the betterment of the people in the region and beyond. As for the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, efforts need to be made to implement UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, that call for a UN supervised plebiscite to enable Kashmiris to exercise their right to self-determination," spokesman at the Foreign Office said in response to a statement made by US Defence Secretary James Mattis to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Pakistan’s response came after a meeting by the visiting Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif with National Security Affairs Advisor Lt General McMaster at the White House. Interestingly, the US officially appears to have a short and selective memory as it participated in ‘One Belt, One Road’ Summit in Beijing in May 2017.
Mattis was referring to areas in the north of Pakistan which are claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir, which are disputed areas. “The One Belt, One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” Mattis stated.
Mattis’ duplicity was pointed out by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Parliamentary Committee, who rejected this view. “US officially participated in One Belt, One Road Summit in Beijing in May, 2017 with a delegation led by Special Assistant to President Donald
Trump, now US Defence Secretary is suddenly opposing it. The US stand is contradictory and baseless.”
Instead, Mushahid pointed out that Mattis was now echoing the Indian line, as New Delhi has from the beginning been critical of CPEC and refused to join it. “Suddenly the US, courtesy India, in silly, short-sighted U-turn, discovers ‘disputed territory’ in the context of OBOR, to justify opposing China,” Mushahid tweeted.
News Desk adds: Claiming UN support for its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, China has rejected the US criticism, saying that the project has not changed its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved by India and Pakistan bilaterally. "We have repeatedly reiterated that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and does not affect China's principled stance on the Kashmir issue," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
The ministry was responding to comments by US Defence Secretary James Mattis that the OBOR initiative "also goes through disputed territory, and I think, that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate". In a globalised world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating 'One Belt, One Road', Mattis told a Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on October 4.
Rejecting criticism that it is dictating to the world through OBOR, the ministry said it is an "important international public product".
It is an important platform for China to cooperate with relevant countries. It is an open and inclusive development platform and more than 100 countries and international organisations actively supported and participated in it since it was proposed four years ago, it said.
More than 70 countries and international organisations which have signed cooperation agreements with China on OBOR, including the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, have incorporated it in their important resolutions, it said.
Over 130 countries and more than 70 international organisations sent representatives to attend the international cooperation summit - 'Belt and Road Forum', organised by China in May and spoke highly of the initiative, the ministry said. "This fully explains that the OBOR initiative is in line with the trend of the times and conforms to the rules of development and is in line with the interests of the people of all countries and has a broad and bright prospects for development," the ministry said.