“There is no proposal for such a bilateral trade deal with Afghanistan,” Muraleedharan replied to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha.
Asked if the government was aware of the impact of the expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on Afghanistan, the Union minister said the government had seen reports on the proposed expansion of the so-called CPEC.
The minister said such actions by any party directly violate India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “Such activities are inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable and will be treated accordingly by India.”
He said India’s position on the CPEC has been clear and consistent. “It passes through parts of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh which are under the illegal and violent occupation of Pakistan and therefore touches on the issue of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“The government has also conveyed to the Chinese side its concerns about its activities in the areas illegally occupied by Pakistan in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and urged them to halt these activities,” he added.
Muraleedharan also stated that India firmly believes that connectivity initiatives must be based on widely accepted international norms. “It must follow the principles of openness, transparency and financial accountability and be pursued in a manner that respects the sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of other nations.”
He added that the government continues to closely monitor developments in Afghanistan, including the evolving security situation, and is taking all necessary measures to safeguard our national interests.
Last month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) said the government had seen reports of third countries participating in CPEC projects and that any such activity by any party directly violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Speaking to an MEA spokesman, Spokesman Arindam Bagchi said India is firmly and consistently opposed to projects in the “so-called CPEC, located on Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan.”
CPEC in Pakistan is worth over USD 46 billion, of which Balochistan is a significant part. According to media reports, China and Pakistan plan to expand this project to Afghanistan.
CPEC, launched in 2015, is part of China’s most ambitious project, the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to rejuvenate the country’s historic trade routes in coastal Southeast Asia.
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