by Saibal Dasgupta
BEIJING: Masood Khan, Pakistan's ambassador in Beijing, has requested China to assist in the building of three hydro-electricity dam projects in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during 2011, when the two countries are celebrating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
China has not betrayed any signs of interest in the proposals and premier Wen Jiabao stayed away from discussing any proposal relating to PoK during his visit to Pakistan in mid-December. Khan's statement shows Pakistan will continue to push for the proposals in order to make China a stake-holder in PoK and further complicating the Kashmir dispute.
The Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it valued the relationship with Pakistan from a "strategic perspective".
"We always value our relations from a strategic perspective. We always handle and advance our relations from a strategic and long term perspective," Hong Lei, foreign ministry spokesman said at the regular briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. The two countries will advance their "practical cooperation" for the sake of peace and stability in the region, he said.
Khan said at a function organized by the Southwestern University of Political Science and Law in Chongging city that China should support Bunji, Diamar-Bhasha, and Dasu dam projects located in the disputed areas. Bunji, for instance, is located 50 kms from the Karokoram highway that passes through some of the Taliban areas and connects China with Pakistan.
Pakistan is turning to China because the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are unlikely to support Diamar-Bhasha because it is facing severe resistance by the local people besides being opposed by the Indian government. A Pakistani minister has also admitted that it is located in the seismic zone.
"The major Chinese companies, which include CWE, Gezhouba, DEC have been working on small and large projects. Our collaboration on Kohala and Neelam-Jhelum projects has been successful. Now, we are looking at even bigger projects like Bunji, Diamar-Bhasha, and Dasu," he said.
Khan even spelt out what Pakistan wanted when he said that "with the support of Chinese Government's concessional credit lines as well as credit insurance, we have been able to attract top Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan's hydel sector".
He said the two countries have decided to establish an "energy cooperation mechanism to push forward cooperation in conventional, renewable, and civil nuclear energy".