While India has independently confirmed that the presence of Chinese troops in Gilgit and Baltistan is a bit exaggerated in terms of numbers, the real concern here is on the number of projects and works China has undertaken in those areas and in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). And the footprint is only growing larger.
At last count, South Block had noticed at least 17 confirmed projects in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan.
These constitute more than half the Chinese projects in areas under Pakistan’s control, making it a cause of major concern because of the disputed status of the areas. At present, according to government inputs, 122 Chinese companies are active in Pakistan, and most of them are also involved in projects in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan areas.
China, sources said, has suddenly increased its involvement in almost every key sector, and has virtually taken upon itself the responsibility of building basic infrastructure in these areas. The list of projects range from providing mobile connectivity services to building power projects, highways and rail links.