Pakistan or China?
A deliberate confusion has been created by Indian quarters about the China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement in an effort to create doubts about the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). I would like to dismiss all such claims based on the following historical facts and reasoning.
The China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement was inked on 2 March 1963 at Peking by the Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yi.
The Agreement did not specifically spelled out how much land Pakistan has ceded to India and vice versa. Indians put the allegations that Pakistan ceded huge land to China, which was the part of Jammu and Kashmir. Figures ranged from 2000 to 13000 sq km of land, which was ceded by Pakistan to China. The former figure was quoted to the Indian Parliament in 1963. Some figures were even more exaggerated. They went up to 5,180 sq. km.
Complaining about the agreement, India wrote a letter to the UN Security Council in March 1963 by calling the Agreement illegal on a number of grounds. Pakistan denied all such allegations and counter-claims. Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, while making a speech on 26 March 1963 at the UN Security Council categorically cleared the Indian allegations against the Pakistan-China Boundary Agreement.
He said that “there is no apportionment of the territory involved, directly or indirectly, in the agreement”, “The Agreement concluded by the Government of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China does not cause any material change whatsoever in the situation within Jammu and Kashmir. It does not in any manner alter the status quo”, he emphasized.
He further said that the territory of Jammu and Kashmir was not the part of the Indian Union. Answering question about territory ceded to China, he told:
“The facts are that Pakistan has not ceded even one square inch of territory to China. It has gained 750 square miles of territory, which had been in China’s occupation and control.” (See the speech of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto at the UN Security Council dated 26 March 1963 in Bhutto.org)
He mentioned at number of occasions at the same speech that the border agreement was provisional and the future sovereign authority of Jammu and Kashmir would re-negotiate with China to demarcate the border.
China ceded 750 sq. miles or 1,942 sq. km territory to Pakistan to amicably and peacefully demarcate border with Pakistan in the spirit of Bandung Principles of peaceful co-existence and good neighborly policy.
In principle it was agreed upon that both Pakistan and China that there will be no transfer of territory from the control of either country to the other. However, when Pakistan cited at number of areas such as Hunza, Karakoram watershed, K-2, Shimshal Pass, etc to be on its side of the border, Premier Zhou Enlai generously agreed to amendment of the boundary so that an area 750 sq. miles remained on the Pakistan side. Abdul Satter in Pakistan’s Foreign Policy writes that:
“The Indian allegations that Pakistan ceded a part of Kashmir territory to China was unfounded. Since a recognized boundary historically did not exist, there could be no question of any such give-away. Pakistan did not transfer any territory that was under its control [to China].”
Anwar H. Syed in China and Pakistan: Diplomacy of an Entente Cordiale wrote:
“China ceded to Pakistan 750 square miles of territory beyond the main watershed of the Karakoram Range, compromising the Oprang Vally and the Darband-Darwaza pocket including its salt mines, Pakistan surrendered no part of the territory under her control”.
George L. Singleton reconfirmed Pakistan’s claim as under:
“According to this treaty [China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement] about 750 sq. miles of territory, under the actual control of China, was ceded to Pakistan while Pakistan had to do nothing in return”.
An Indian scholar, A. G. Noorani (in “Facing the Truth”), in Frontline (2006) pointed out in his analysis that the alignment secured by Pakistan was correct although he disputes the legality of the Agreement. China well understood that Pakistan did not bargain but made the firm offer. The agreement was appreciable. During a speech delivered at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, Ambassador Akram Zaki also reconfirmed the same claim.
The areas historically and customary belong to Gilgit-Baltistan were given to Pakistan. The boundary line was drawn on the top of K-2, the Indus River basin was given to Pakistan, and the other side of Shimshal Pass acceded to Pakistan. There, Pakistan gained from the Boundary Agreement than losing any part of its territory under its control.
In a nutshell, the China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement was an historical breakthrough to amicably settle territorial dispute between the two nations. The agreement was not permanent but provisional in the sense that it was directly related to the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India and upon the resolution of the dispute the sovereign authority of Kashmir would negotiate the demarcation of the border with China. The Indian allegation that Pakistan ceded part of Jammu and Kashmir to China is thus unfounded and groundless rather Pakistan has gained territory from China in legal, transparent, and amicable manner.
Pakistan’s position over the territory under its control of the area of Gilgit-Baltistan is absolutely clear and there is no such issues related to demarcation of the boundary between Pakistan and China. The CPEC projects must be geared up without listening to India who intends to sabotage the project through its illegal and clandestine activities.
The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He is an expert on Japan, China, and East Asian affairs.