China’s Interest in the Gilgit-Baltistan region

Special mention on August 30, 2010 during Zero Hour of Rajya Sabha

There are reports that China is developing a serious interest in the Gilgit-Baltistan region in the North-West corner of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The reports tend to suggest that China wants to ensure for itself unfettered road and rail access to the Persian Gulf through Pakistan.

It is already known that Chinese have developed naval bases at Gwadar,Pasni and Osmara, just east of the Persian Gulf.  With the development of the express road and rail links through Gilgit- Baltistan, China will be able to transport its strategic material from eastern China to the Gulf region within a couple of days.

These reports suggest that Chinese soldiers are freely entering Gilgit and Baltistan and already working on  railway lines through one of the most strategic regions in the POK. Some soldiers are working on the Karakoram Highway which links China’s Sinkiang province with Pakistan.  There are others who are busy constructing dams, and expressways.

Of particular concern should be the construction of over a score of tunnels in secret locations where even Pakistanis are not allowed entry.  These tunnels could be used for the proposed gas pipeline from Iran to China that would pass through Gilgit.  But these could also be used for storing missiles.

Sir, this is a very strategic region for India as Gilgit and Balistan are legally a part of Jammu and Kashmir.  The growing Chinese presence in Pakistan as well in the POK is certainly a matter of great concern to India.

As you know Sir, China has already promised to give two nuclear reactors to Pakistan and there is an effective cooperation between the two countries to  transfer technology meant for missiles and nuclear areas. Taken together, these developments have a serious bearing on India’s defence and security.

These developments so close to our borders warrant  a statement by the government at the earliest.