India is a major regional player in South Asia and playing a double role as a close United States ally to counter Chinese influence in the region. China and India have great monetary relations as the exchange between the two nations is assessed at $70 billion. The approach of Indian think tank towards the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not monolithic. Talking during Raisina Dialogue 2020 in January, Indian Naval Chief Admiral Karambir Singh asserted that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor encroaches on India’s sovereignty. This was a redundancy of India’s remain against CPEC, which is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s goal-oriented Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Indian government additionally opposes CPEC because it considers Sino-Pakistani collaboration a threat. Be that as it may, the Indian opposition to CPEC on these two focuses do not hold ground.
There are two significant reasons that drive the Indian resistance to the US$50 billion CPEC project. The main explanation is that the economic corridor goes through the Gilgit-Baltistan district in Pakistan, which was influenced by the province of Kashmir at the hour of Partition. Since Kashmir is a universally perceived contest among India and Pakistan, India makes a case for Gilgit-Baltistan. In view of this rationale, India contends that an economic corridor among Pakistan and China is going through an Indian-claimed territory and subsequently disregards India’s sovereignty.
* The author has Master degree in Defense & Strategic Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. Currently, he works with the School of Inclusion as a Program Coordinator.
The case of Gilgit-Baltistan
In July 2018, S Jaishankar, then foreign secretary of India, told Chinese officials in Beijing that “CPEC violates Indian sovereignty because it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.” India fears that when the CPEC corridor successfully begins working through Gilgit-Baltistan, at that point, it will internationalize the Kashmir debate. New Delhi has verifiably restricted this chance, demanding that the question is a respective issue among India and Pakistan. This position depends on the contention that the whole Kashmir area, including Gilgit-Baltistan, is Indian territory. Subsequently, the way that the CPEC corridor goes through Gilgit-Baltistan naturally disregards the regional sway of India
Historically, after Partition, Kashmir state sent its senator to Gilgit to take control of the region, yet the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary power, did not acknowledge the authority of the Kashmiri Maharaja. Only a few days after Kashmir’s by forced accession to India, the Gilgit Scouts rebelled against the senator and solicited Pakistan to take control of the region.
So, in historical terms, the nature of the dispute over Gilgit-Baltistan is totally not the same as that with respect to the Jammu and Kashmir regions. Subsequently, India can’t claim Gilgit-Baltistan as they claim Pakistani-administered Kashmir. India’s case on Gilgit-Baltistan can be defended if Kashmir’s accession to India is confirmed as legitimate by the United Nations.
In addition, regardless of the historical context regarding Gilgit-Baltistan, this region has been firmly controlled and managed by Pakistan throughout the previous 73 years. Pakistan has made it a semi-autonomous governmentally controlled area, which for all practical purposes/reasons is part of Pakistan. Truth be told, the previously existing Karakoram Highway, which interfaces Pakistan with China, goes through the similar region. Pakistan has refrained from including Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan as legitimate pieces of Pakistan to maintain UN resolutions on the dispute. Besides, last August, India altered the geographic game plan in Indian occupied Kashmir despite it being a contested region. By this rationale, how might it question any progression taken by Pakistan-administered Kashmir? Consequently, there is no just cause for the Indian case that CPEC disregards its “sway” in Gilgit-Baltistan.
CPEC as Counterbalance?
The second reason for India’s opposition to CPEC is the fear that it is being used by China to counterbalance the economic growth of India. Pakistan’s economy was battling in mid-2015 when Beijing consented to the CPEC arrangement with Islamabad. CPEC has so far helped the Pakistani economy by increasing energy production and paving the path for the additional outside venture. Therefore, it bodes well that India may see CPEC as an attempt by China to prop up Pakistan against India. This hypothesis is additionally bolstered by the way that India is responsive to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor under BRI yet opposes CPEC. Accordingly, India’s opposition to CPEC can be seen in a Pakistan-centric angle and not an overall resistance to the more extensive Belt and Road Initiative. Neither Pakistan nor China has indicated any express aims to counter India using CPEC. Besides, Pakistan likewise has a sovereign option to settle on bargains and enter concurrences with different nations for its monetary advantages regardless of whether they are contradicted by India. Be that as it may, CPEC in no way, shape or form speaks to any demonstration of antagonism toward India.
Moreover, the Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan is the backbone of CPEC. Pakistan intends to make Gwadar a territorial business hub with the assistance of China. To counter the achievement of Gwadar Port, India put resources into Chabahar Port in Iran this is only 175 kilometres from Gwadar. India put $100 million in Chabahar, and as per Chinese media, the main clear explanation was to counter the accomplishment of Gwadar Port. The planning of the Indian arrangement with Iran further backs the case made by Chinese media. India began putting resources into Chabahar in 2016, only a year after the CPEC understandings were agreed upon. It would be too big a coincidence if India began putting resources into a port only 175 kilometres from Gwadar if it had no intention to counter CPEC.
Chabahar could have been an opposite contender of Gwadar; however, then the appointment of Donald Trump as President of the United States changed the circumstances. The Trump organization reimposed sanctions on Iran, and it turned out to be progressively hard for India to continue putting resources into Chabahar. Therefore, Gwadar Port’s importance increased, and it even began serving Afghan transit trade, which would have been a customer of Chabahar Port if the US government had not forced sanctions.
The Chabahar scene uncovers that it was India that caused a key move to counter CPEC, yet it did not work. Similarly, as India has the option to settle on autonomous venture choices like that, including Chabahar, Pakistan can do likewise with CPEC. Be that as it may, the Chabahar speculation is where India made an endeavour regarded antagonistic by Pakistan and China against CPEC, yet so far it has not worked out.