NEW DELHI, Apr 10 : Despite the strong Chinese denial, Indian authorities have now acquired “independent” confirmation about the increasing presence of Chinese troops along the line of control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir from none other than US security agencies.
Highly placed sources in the government told TOI on Saturday that US intelligence agencies have confirmed to Indian authorities about the increasing presence of Chinese troops all along the LoC.
The chief of the Northern Command, Lieutenant General K T Parnaik, had last week come out in the open with the disclosure about Chinese soldiers being based in PoK. The Chinese foreign ministry, however, denied this even describing these reports as baseless and ridiculous.
“We have a strong real time intelligence sharing mechanism with the US and they have conveyed the same thing to Indian agencies including RAW – that these troops are stationed all along the LoC in PoK. They conveyed this to Indian agencies independently without us seeking any confirmation from them,” said an official, adding that the government at the highest level was aware of the latest developments in PoK.
“Their confirmation seemed to be based on technical intelligence. They said these Chinese troops seemed to be involved in construction activities,” he added. He, however, added that this was not the first time there was confirmation from the US about heightened Chinese activity along the LoC but that was restricted to the Gilgit-Baltistan area.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to travel to China on April 12 for the BRICS summit. He is slated to have a bilateral meeting with President Hu Jintao along the sidelines of the summit in which he is expected to voice India’s concerns over security issues vis-à-vis Pakistan.
While the involvement of Chinese military in infrastructure projects is well known, the sudden spurt in their presence in PoK has caused much consternation in the Indian security establishment. After the assertions made by Lt-Gen Parnaik, the foreign ministry had sought a detailed report from the defence ministry over the issue. Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, however, had said that raising tension between the two countries was not the right way of handling the situation.
While Pakistan too has described these reports as baseless, it is now well documented that Chinese troops have been around in PoK since late 2009 when they arrived in the Gilgit-Baltistan area supposedly to rebuild the Karakoram highway. According to Indian agencies though, these troops are no longer restricted to this area and that they are now also present in what Pakistan describes as “Azad Kashmir”.