New Delhi: Beijing and Islamabad may have denied reports about Chinese troops’ presence along the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), but a stamp of approval on the claims made by an Indian Army official has come from US security agencies, a leading Indian daily reported on Sunday.
Northern Army Commander Lt Gen KT Parnaik had said at a seminar last week that China`s presence in PoK was "increasing steadily" and its troops were "actually present" along the LoC, adding the Chinese footprints are "too close for comfort" for India.
"Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and the Northern Areas is increasing steadily... There are many people who are concerned about the fact that if there was to be hostility between us and Pakistan, what would be the complicity of Chinese. Not only they are in the neighbourhood but the fact that they are actually present and stationed along the LoC," Parnaik said.
Both China and Pakistan had denied the claims. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the reports were baseless and ridiculous.
Islamabad too denied the reports as "totally baseless". "This is the most absurd piece of information I have heard. It is totally baseless," Foreign office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said.
However, US security agencies have confirmed to the authorities in India that China is actually lining up troops along the LoC.
"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," an official told the newspaper.
"Their confirmation seemed to be based on technical intelligence. They said these Chinese troops seemed to be involved in construction activities," the official added.
Lt Gen KT Parnaik had said China`s links with Pakistan through PoK "lends strength" to the "nexus" between the two countries which is a cause of "great security concern" for India.
"As part of (China`s) `strings of pearls` policy, Chinese footprints are too close for comfort," Parnaik added.
The Army Commander said such a nexus between the Chinese and Pakistani military "jeopardises our regional strategic interests in the long run and facilitates speedy and enhanced deployment of Pakistan armed forces to complement China`s military operations and thus outranks India."
He said China has been found to be involved in the construction of numerous roads and several hydro-power projects inside PoK.
Beijing is laying a web of roads that run across areas as distant from each other as Skardu in PoK and Kunming in China near Myanmar border.
China has already constructed roads connecting all its highways to logistic centres and major defence installations that dot the border with India and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in south-eastern Jammu and Kashmir.