Is the cat out of bag? US concerns over CPEC

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US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis calls on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington DC, USA on June 26, 2017. Photo: IANS/PI

US defence secretary, in his recent statement on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), provided backing to the Indian narrative when he informed the Congress on Trump administration reservations over CPEC passing through ‘disputed territory’.

“The One Belt, One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently.

Michael Kugelman, a US expert on South Asia and senior associate at The Wilson Center, expressed surprise over the statement in the following tweets:

Mattis was appearing before the Senate and House panels of armed services, briefing them on the ongoing situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Mattis not only voiced concerns over the CPEC, but also told the panel that the US administration opposed China’s One Belt One Road flagship project in principle.

This latest narrative on CPEC and OBOR coming out of Washington is somewhat similar to that of New Delhi. Sushma Swaraj, the Indian FM, and her government have time and again made clear their opposition of both the OBOR and CPEC.

(The tweet above is a statement by Swaraj in the Indian Parliament and translates as: As soon as we found out that CPEC was included in the OBOR initiative, we instantly lodged our protest on the move)

Responding to Mattis’ statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Friday urged the international community to focus on blatant human rights violations and ‘heinous crimes’ committed by Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

“As for the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, efforts need to be made to implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir that call for a UN-supervised plebiscite to enable Kashmiris to exercise their right to self-determination,” it added.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, who chairs the CPEC Parliamentary Committee, also rejected the American objections over OBOR in a series of tweets.

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