Indo-Pak
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry downplayed a UN report which claimed that CPEC will fuel Indo-Pak tensions further.

In an extensive report titled “The Belt and Road Initiative and the Role of Escap’ which was released by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap), apprehensions about CPEC were raised. “The dispute over Kashmir is a cause of concern since the crossing of the CPEC in the region might create geopolitical tensions with India and ignite more political instability.” the report said.

Answering to media personnel, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “CPEC is neither targeted at any third party nor related to territorial disputes.” He further said that Escap did not prepare a special report on CPEC.

CPEC, it must be recalled is the flagship project of the BRI. Therefore, China has time and again stressed the importance of CPEC being a conduit for economic development. The initiative is tipped to perch China on a pedestal when it will be able to expand its power base.

Instead, he highlighted that the report talked about the positive aspects of BRI. He said that the report showed how Escap can play a role in aligning with BRI to increase connectivity

Read More: CPEC and Pakistan’s road to development: Can India sabotage the plan?

CPEC, it must be recalled is the flagship project of the BRI. Therefore, China has time and again stressed the importance of CPEC being a conduit for economic development. The initiative is tipped to perch China on a pedestal when it will be able to expand its power base.

China tried to allay Indian concerns who boycotted the BRI Summit on grounds of sovereignty.

No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” MEA of India’s spokesman said when asked about India’s nonparticipation in the BRI Summit held in Beijing.

China accentuated upon CPEC being an economic project. “OBOR has no connections to or impact on sovereignty issues. Even we can think about renaming CPEC,” Said the Chinese Ambassador to India earlier this month.

Indo-Sino ties are already strained over issues other than CPEC and OBOR. China indicated on Monday that it will not support India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at the elite bloc’s plenary meeting in June

China’s increased interest is backed up by robust steps. Besides iterating the need for speeding up CPEC completion, China signed a number of agreements for the very purpose with Pakistan. The two countries agreed on the implementation of the up gradation of ML1 and the establishment of Havelian Dry Port in Pakistan. The neighboring countries also signed a grant agreement on the Gwadar airport and a MoU on cooperation within the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative.

The ramifications need to be assessed clearly.

External Support may lead to Recklessness

The growing Sino-Pak ties are adversely affecting Beijing-Delhi ties as the latter is uneasy with China’s growing proximity with Pakistan.

Read More: Are Indian fears about CPEC related to Kashmir issue?

Indo-Sino ties are already strained over issues other than CPEC and OBOR. China indicated on Monday that it will not support India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at the elite bloc’s plenary meeting in June unless a universal formula is chalked out for accepting applications from countries that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A reiteration of its stance since last year when India applied for the NSG membership has raised doubts that China is openly supporting Islamabad over the issue.

“India has sought and continues to move to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive options to raise the cost to Islamabad for its alleged support to cross-border terrorism,”

China is apprehensive that India’s entry in the NSG would alter the strategic balance in South Asia and be repugnant to peace in the region.  China also is apprehensive of this step being inimical to Pakistan’s strategic interests. Most, importantly the overt US support for Delhi’s bid is seen as a ploy to contain China. All this does not sit down well with India.

Pakistan, on the other hand, may go on to consider all this as China’s open support. This would give it a boost in time for a future and perhaps likely confrontation with India.

In a briefing to the Arms Services Community of the US Senate, top US spies in Daniel Coats and Lt Gen Stewart warned of escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

“India has sought and continues to move to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive options to raise the cost to Islamabad for its alleged support to cross-border terrorism,” Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, the head of US Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Arms Services Committee.”

Read More: China & Pakistan: Evolution of a Strategic Relationship that created CPEC…

“Increasing numbers of firefights along the Line of Control, including the use of artillery and mortars, might exacerbate the risk of unintended escalation between these nuclear-armed neighbors,” warned the director of National Intelligence, Daniel R. Coats.

As war drums are beating from both sides, India is ostensibly bolstered by the US crutch and Pakistan seemingly has China’s cushion.The presence of powerful external balancers in the Indo-Pak theater may induce a false sense of confidence, increasing the likelihood of recklessness from either side. If current rhetoric and actions are anything to go by then India is heating up the theater to a dangerous level. Over the past few days, the chances of a confrontation have risen. Alleged attacks across the LoC by India have been retaliated by war-preparations from the blue-sky warriors of Pakistan. As “Nuclear Pakistan” turns 19 on Sunday, peaceniks pray that the ultimate weapons are not put to use by either side, for a clash has the propensity to invoke them.

Question for discussion: Do you believe Indo-Pak tensions will escalate due to CPEC?

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