New Delhi: Days after US Defense Secretary James Mattis said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through disputed territory, Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal urged the US to not look at it from India's perspective.
India has skipped the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in May this year due to its sovereignty concerns over the nearly USD 60 billion CPEC, a flagship project of China's prestigious One Belt One Road (OBOR), which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Last week, Mattis had backed India's views and said no country should put itself into a position of dictating the Belt and Road initiative.
On Thursday however, Iqbal sought to convey that CPEC should only be seen as a plan for economic prosperity. "CPEC is not a conspiracy against anyone. It is not a security plan. It’s a plan for economic prosperity, which is bringing investment in the energy, infrastructure and other key sectors,” he said at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.
Iqbal then went on to say that the US should see CPEC as a means of bringing stability. "I think, the US should not look at CPEC from the Indian perspective, but as a source for peace, stability and prosperity in the region. CPEC can bring the much-needed stability to a region that has suffered from war for the last several decades."
At a time when the Trump administration has sent stern warnings to Pakistan to combat terrorism eminating from its soil, it remains to be seen how Iqbal's reference to 'region suffering from war' is received by both the US and India.