China, Pakistan push ahead with US$6.8 billion rail project in region disputed with India

China, Pakistan push ahead with US$6.8 billion rail project in region disputed with India

  • Beijing also announces the opening of a 118km stretch of the ‘Friendship Highway’ that will run from Islamabad to Kashgar
  • Strengthening of ties comes a year after New Delhi revoked constitutional rights giving Kashmir greater independence

China and Pakistan have increased their cooperation on infrastructure development in Kashmir, where the two countries have individual territorial disputes with India.On Wednesday, Islamabad approved a US$6.8 billion dollar upgrade to a rail line in the region as part of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Also this week, Beijing announced the opening of a 118km (73-mile) stretch of road from Thakot to Havelian as part of a larger road project that runs from Islamabad to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region.

The new road runs close to India’s westernmost territorial claims in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Once completed, the so-called Friendship Highway will pass through areas of Kashmir in the Indian state of Ladakh that are claimed by both New Delhi and Islamabad.

The road opening is evidence of the close relationship between China and Pakistan and comes a year after Delhi upset its two neighbours by revoking constitutional rights that gave greater independence to Kashmir.