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Saturday, 9 January 2010

China’s policy on Kashmir issue

By Dr. Muhammad Anwar

Kashmir is a core political issue between India and Pakistan. The people of Kashmir have suffered under Indian control of the area. Pakistan keeps trying to persuade India to resolve the Kashmir issue according to the will of the Kashmiri people and in accordance with the UN resolutions.

Unfortunately India has never been comfortable to Pakistani suggestions and has always showed Kashmir as its integral part.

However, China has taken a different position on Kashmir. China considers Kashmir as a separate entity and is ready to extend all sorts of help and moral support to the Kashmiri people. Chinese Embassy has been issuing visas to some Kashmiris on a separate sheet of paper instead of Indian passports, like in the case of those hailing from Arunachal Pradesh on which Beijing lays its claim. The visas are stamped on separate papers, which are then stapled to the passport. The practice of issuing such visas on separate papers has been there for years. India has recently lodged a protest against such a Chinese visa issuing practice. On the other hand China maintained that they have issued valid visas to the people of Indian held Kashmir and that the problem laid with Indian immigration authorities who do not wish to allow Kashmiris to proceed abroad for higher education.

Reportedly, Mr. Shakil A Romshoo an associate professor of university in Indian occupied Kashmir  has been stopped from flying to China by Indian immigration authorities in New Delhi after the Chinese visa was granted to him on a separate document and not on his passport. This prompted the Indian government to protest against the Chinese practice. China has disregarded Indian protest stressing that the visas issued to IOK citizens are correct and valid. They further contented that this was not a new practice and has been done even in the past.

More recently, China's foreign office reiterated its stance on 4th November 2009 that it would continue issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris without bringing any change in policy adding that due to its historical nature, the Kashmir dispute could not be put into cold storage and it should be settled through dialogue.

According to media reports, majority of the affected of this new development are students and academicians. Irrespective of Chinese intentions to help students and academicians by extending the facility to get visas for study tours in China, India has seen the issue in a very myopic fashion. Indian oblique angle vision has construed that China is issuing visas to Kashmiris, on behest of Pakistan. They have failed to see the personal benefits which the students and knowledge seekers can get by studying in China at comparatively low cost. Indian government has tried to politicize a non issue to score points against China.

Indian decision to stop Professor Shakil A Romshoo to visit China has sent distressing signals to Kashmiri students desiring to study in China. It has simply infused discontentment amongst Kashmiris who do not expect good from Indian authorities. The issue has also added to the already existing tension between India and China. There have been reports in Indian media about Chinese maps for tourist visiting Tibet and sale of globes in India depicting Kashmir as separate entity.

(Source: Kashmir Watch)