India has opted out of China’s high-profile Belt and Road Forum (Barf) summit despite Beijing’s overtures to ensure New Delhi’s participation. New Delhi’s refusal to attend the two-day Belt and Road Forum due to sovereignty concerns stands justified. Pakistan occupied Kashmir is still a disputed territory and India stakes claim on it on grounds that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had chosen to accede to New Delhi. So, China’s decision to kick off US $ 57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (Cpec) is bound to invite angry reaction. The project route runs from Gwadar on the coast of the Indian Ocean to Xinjiang in western China, through PoK.
CPEC may be a succour for Pakistan’s economy which is in doldrums but for China its like hitting multiple targets with one stone. Not only it would make easier for chinese goods to be exported to Europe and Africa, CPEC would also provide China with more opportunities s to have a large presence in sensitive areas not far from the Indian border. It will also enable China to counter any American or Indian move to change the status quo in Gilgit Baltistan. Besides, it will also help China to curb any infiltration bid by Jihadi elements towards its border.
Not only India but Kashmiris who are not pro-pakistani and want an idnepndent state have are protesting against this project. A significant section of residents of Gilgit-Baltistan see this as a conspiracy by Pakistan and China to shatter their ultimate goal of Azaad Kashmir. Even those who are fighting for free Balochistan are disappointed as CPEC would allow greater militray presence in their province.
However, India is not the only country is boycotting the summit, Japan has also stayed away from the summit while a hesistant US is likley to send a delegation. The summit is set to see the participation of leaders of 29 countrieds, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. China hopes that more than 50 agreements will be signed on transportation, energy and communications projects.
For India, it’s a question of sovereignty, and having hostile neighbours from all around is definitely not a good idea.