In what could be seen as alarm bells ringing for Indian security agencies, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops have been spotted at forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistani side of Kashmir.
The Indian Army has spotted the presence of senior PLA officials at the forward posts opposite Nowgam sector in North Kashmir.
Military sources say the intercepted communications between Pakistani army officers suggests that the PLA troops have arrived to build infrastructure along the LoC.
The PLA troops were first spotted in the later half of 2015 as well as opposite Tangdhar sector, where Chinese government-owned China Gezhouba Group Company Limited has been building a Jhelum-Neelum 970 MW Hydel power project.
The intercepts also suggested that the PLA would be digging tunnels in Leepa Valley, located in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), with a goal to building an all-weather road as an alternate route to reach Karakoram Highway.
Experts consider the visit by PLA officials to be part of Beijing’s $46 billion China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), under which Gwadar port in Karachi is linked to Chinese Xinjiang province via the Karakoram highway.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC starts from the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan, runs along the Makaran Coast turning north to connect Lahore and Islamabad, passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and then runs into the Karakoram Highway, ending at Kashgar in the Xinjiang region of China.
Notably, Pakistan has raised three independent infantry Brigades and two additional artillery regiments to protect the highway, security agencies have said. A Brigade consists of least three regiments, each with about a 1,000 soldiers.
There are indications that Pakistan is seriously attempting to annex this region into a fifth province of Pakistan, government sources said.