express– A new 500-mile Karakoram highway will link Astore in northern Pakistan with Yakan Count in northwest China. It will provide a direct artery from China to a disputed region contested by fierce rival India.
The development is a sign Beijing has partnered up with nuclear-armed Pakistan to mount further pressure on India regarding the Himalayan border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the disputed province of Ladakh.
Indian military analysts told The Times of India the construction of the new road would add to China and Pakistan’s capacity to launch a two-front war against India.
India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said China had increased its military presence in Ladakh, warning it had “undermined peace and tranquillity.”
He said the “government’s strategy at present was to hold the military line”.
However, China said their Indian counterparts should immediately return one of their soldiers, who was arrested after crossing the border last week.
A statement from the People’s Liberation Army said: “India should strictly abide by the relevant agreements between the two countries, and promptly transfer the missing person to China, to help with cooling and de-escalating the China-Indian border situation.”
Tensions flared between China and India last June when a clash along the disputed Himalayan border led to the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers.
In the following months, the nuclear-armed neighbours deployed tens of thousands of soldiers across India’s Ladakh region and China’s Tibetan plateau.
In November, the two sides began formulating a disengagement plan to withdraw troops and establish no-patrol zones.
Both world superpowers fought a border war in 1962, but until last summer they had largely kept a lid on tensions along the LAC.
The Indian Foreign Minister continued: “After 45 years, you’ve actually had bloodshed on the border.
“And that’s had a huge impact on public opinion and politically. Really the impact of trust and confidence in India where China and their relationship is concerned.
“That has been profoundly disturbed.”
India and China have also agreed to maintain close communication through diplomatic and military channels regarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Anurag Srivastava, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said the two sides have agreed to hold another round of military talks regarding the issue.
He added: “India and China continue to maintain close communication through diplomatic and military channels with the objective of ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the western sector.”
The Minister said the full aim was for “full restoration of peace and tranquillity.”