India slams Chinese projects in PoK

NEW DELHI: Bolstered by yesterday’s large voter turnout in the northeastern border state and irked by constant Chinese barbs about the ‘disputed’ status of Arunachal Pradesh which India considers “an integral part” of this country, India

has slammed China’s

ongoing projects in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. In a

hard-hitting statement

today the spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs urged China to take a “long term view” of bilateral relations and “cease activities” in areas “illegally occupied by Pakistan” since 1947.

Responding to a query, MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash said, “We have seen the Xinhua report quoting the President of China as stating that China will continue to engage in projects with Pakistan inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.”

Taking a leaf from China’s constant goading of India, Prakash said, “Pakistan has been in illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir since 1947. The Chinese side is fully aware of India’s position and our concerns about Chinese activities in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. We hope that the Chinese side will take a long term view of the India-China relations, and cease such activities in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan.”

It was the first time since Sino-Indian relations hit a rocky patch several months ago, with a reported rise in incursions and adversarial comments in the media, which India has hit out at China over its activities in what India claims is territory illegally ceded to China by Pakistan. Indian officials have privately expressed concern over the building of the Karakoram highway and several other projects across the 38,000 square kms Islamabad ceded to China in POK.

The immediate provocation for the MEA’s strong statement was a set of comments by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman yesterday, criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh on October 3. The Indian PM had

visited the northeastern state to campaign for the Congress party in the run-up to provincial assembly elections held there yesterday.

According to an official who did not want to be identified, the “high voter turnout (over 72 per cent) in Arunachal (Pradesh) and the people’s stirring involvement with the Indian democratic process came as a blow to the Chinese.” Traditionally, China has always objected to Indian leaders visiting Arunachal Pradesh, which they claim is a disputed area, but India claims is an “integral part of India”. China does not issue visas to Indians from that state.

What has irked the Chinese further is New Delhi’s permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh later this year. Last year, India had disallowed the Tibetan leader’s visit there after Beijing protested. The Dalai Lama is also scheduled to visit the Tawang

monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, Tibetan Buddhism’s third most holy site.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said the Dalai Lama was an “honoured guest” of India and free to travel anywhere in India to conduct religious ceremonies.

“Regardless of what others say, it is the Government of India’s stated position that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India,” Krishna said. “We rest at that.”

Commenting on Chinese objections to the Prime Minister’s visit to the northeastern state earlier this month, the MEA spokesman rejected Beijing’s charges saying,” India and China have jointly agreed that the outstanding Boundary Question will be discussed by the Special Representatives appointed by the two Governments. We, therefore, express our disappointment and concern over the statement made by the Official Spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of

Foreign Affairs, since this does not help the process of ongoing negotiations between the two Governments on the Boundary Question.

India is committed to resolving outstanding differences with China in a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable manner, while ensuring that such differences are not allowed to affect the positive development of bilateral relations. We hope that the Chinese side will similarly abide by this understanding.”