Gilgit-Baltistan: Presence of Chinese Troops Denied
Pakistani authorities have dismissed reports about Chinese soldiers being stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan. A spokesperson from the Foreign Office commented that any Chinese operations in the region were at the request of the government and to help repair the damaged Karakorum Highway.
Below is an article published by the Hindustan Times:
Pakistan today dismissed as a "figment of imagination" a media report that the Gilgit-Baltistan region of the country had been handed over to China and that 10,000 Chinese troops had moved into the area. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit rejected assertions made in this regard in an article written by Selig Harrison in The New York Times on August 26.
The writer, a south Asia expert, had claimed that troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have moved into the area and a geo-political crisis was unfolding in the region.
"Given Selig Harrison's well-known anti-Pakistan mindset, his gross misrepresentation of facts is hardly surprising. Nor is it unexpected of India to create unnecessary hype using Mr Harrison's tendentious article," the spokesman said.
"The fact of the matter is that China, at our request, is helping us in repairing the Karakoram highway, which has been severely damaged by the recent floods and landslides. Anything beyond this is one's figment of imagination," Basit said.
Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, earlier known as the Northern Areas, have been hit hard by recent flash floods triggered by torrential monsoon rains.
Over 100 people were killed by floods and landslides in the region.
President Asif Ali Zardari recently said that Pakistan had requested China to provide supplies to 25,000 people in Gilgit-Baltistan after they were cut off due to the flooding and landslides.