ISLAMABAD: The military on Thursday said it had neither made new deployments along the Line of Control (LoC) in Gilgit-Baltistan nor were there any Chinese soldiers in Pakistan.

The military’s public affairs wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), made this assertion in response to claims in Indian media that Pakistan had deployed 20,000 additional troops along the LoC in GB in the backdrop of the India-China tensions.

The reports in the Indian media were attributed to unnamed sources.

Similarly, another Indian media report claimed that an IL-78 tanker of the Chinese air force had used Skardu airbase. The army strongly rejected the Indian media reports as reckless.

“News circulating in Indian electronic and social media claiming additional deployment of Pakistan army troops along the LoC in GB and alleged use of Skardu Air base by China is false, irresponsible and far from truth,” the ISPR said in a statement.

“No such movement or induction of additional forces has taken place. We also vehemently deny presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan,” it added.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a confrontation along their disputed border in the Ladakh region for a month now. Last month they had the first fatal clash in nearly 45 years in which 20 Indian troops were killed.

Beijing and Delhi have continued their talks even after the clash in the Galwan Valley. The two sides have reportedly had three corps commander level meetings over the past weeks, in addition to diplomatic contacts, but their discussions have remained inconclusive because of the complicated issues involved in the dispute.

Delhi, however, worries that China may use its ally Pakistan to further pressure it in the disputed zone.

A senior Pakistani official, while talking to journalists a few days back, had clarified that Islamabad did not intend to get entangled in China-India confrontation.

He said Pakistan wants peace in the region and sees any conflict as a “net negative”. The official insisted that Pakistan was focusing “internally” and relations with Beijing were dominated by the economic element.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2020