(TibetanReview.net, Nov06, 2018) – Overriding India’s protests, Pakistan and China have begun implementing the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the launch on Nov 5 of a luxury bus service between the former’s cultural hub of Lahore and Kashgar city in Chinese ruled in Xinjiang, running through Pakistan occupied Kashmir claimed by New Delhi.
The bus service “is part of a larger regional plan to connect Pakistan and China through roads and railways,” gulfnews.com Nov 5 quoted Muhammad Anwar, CEO of North-South Transport Network (NSTN), the company running the service, as saying.
Anwar was referring to the $60 billion CPEC, which is part of Beijing’s globally ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The report cited Pakistan Economic Forum Chairman Humayun Iqbal Shami as saying the bus service would strengthen people-to-people contact between Pakistan and China. “Pakistan and China can also introduce a similar, affordable train service to enhance tourism and business activities,” he was quoted as adding.
The launch of the bus service coincided with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ongoing China visit to seek a bailout for his financially stressed country which some blame on the CPEC indebtedness to China.
India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar was earlier stated to have lodged protests with both Pakistan and China, saying the bus service violated India’s territory in the Kashmir region.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had rebuffed India’s objection, saying: “CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative which targets no third country. It has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and will not affect China’s principled position on the Kashmir issue.”
India has also strongly objected to the CPEC itself as its China-funded projects run through the Kashmir area under Pakistan’s rule and objects to the BRI on account of it.