ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Saturday asked the United States and the world to focus on human right violations in held Kashmir instead of finding faults with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would benefit the “region and beyond”.

Reacting to the US Defence Secretary, James Mattis’, statement on the multi-billion-dollar the CPEC , Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that the CPEC was a “development and connectivity project for the betterment of the people in the region and beyond.”

Earlier, Mattis supported India’s claim and said his country believed the CPEC passed through disputed territory.

He was referring to the $56 billion CPEC passing through the northern areas, which India argues are part of the disputed Kashmir territory.

The US defence secretary told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “The One Belt, One Road also goes through the disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate.”

Furious over Mattis’ assertion on the CPEC , Nafees Zakaria said the international community should focus on human rights violations and heinous crimes committed by Indian occupation forces in held Kashmir .

“As for the Kashmir dispute, efforts need to be made to implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir , that call for a UN-supervised plebiscite to enable Kashmiris to exercise their right to self determination,” he said in a statement issued here.

On October 5, Zakaria had accused India of trying to sabotage the CPEC project.

He said convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav, working for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was on a mission to create instability in Pakistan and disrupt the CPEC .

Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said Mattis’ statement contradicted with Washington’s policy.

“The defence secretary’s stance on One Belt, One Road has contradictions. It has no facts,” he said.

The lawmaker said the US itself had supported the project at a forum in Beijing this year.

Syed said the US opposition to One Belt, One Road was a “historic mistake”.

“The statement comes when they [the Trump administration] are [themselves] enhancing trade ties with China,” he added.

CPEC expert Major General Zahir Shah (retd) said the multi-billion-dollar project was aimed at bringing prosperity in the region and was not designed against any country.

“There is no reason to oppose a project, which will only improve economy and facilitate people. India is trying to close all doors, which benefit Pakistan,” he said.

Shah said the CPEC was a reality and a proof of Pak-China friendship.

“China is investing so much money here. The US and the whole world should appreciate this project. There is no reason for criticism [on CPEC],” he added.

Agencies add: China has rejected the objections raised by the US over the CPEC saying that its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative was backed by the UN. “We have repeatedly reiterated that CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and does not affect China’s principled stance on the Kashmir issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It added that over 70 countries and international organisations which had signed cooperation agreements with China on OBOR, including the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, have incorporated it in their important resolutions.

“Over 130 countries and more than 70 international organisations sent representatives to attend the international cooperation summit – ‘Belt and Road Forum’, organised by China in Beijing in May and spoke highly of the initiative,” it noted.

“This fully explains that the OBOR initiative is in line with the trend of the times and conforms to the rules of development and is in line with the interests of the people of all countries and has a broad and bright prospect for development.”

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the region and was not designed against any country.

“There is no reason to oppose a project, which will only improve economy and facilitate people. India is trying to close all doors, which benefit Pakistan,” he said.

Shah said the CPEC was a reality and a proof of Pak-China friendship.

“China is investing so much money here. The US and the whole world should appreciate this project. There is no reason for criticism [on CPEC],” he added.

Agencies add: China has rejected the objections raised by the US over the CPEC saying that its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative was backed by the UN. “We have repeatedly reiterated that CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative that is not directed against third parties and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes and does not affect China’s principled stance on the Kashmir issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It added that over 70 countries and international organisations which had signed cooperation agreements with China on OBOR, including the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, have incorporated it in their important resolutions.

“Over 130 countries and more than 70 international organisations sent representatives to attend the international cooperation summit – ‘Belt and Road Forum’, organised by China in Beijing in May and spoke highly of the initiative,” it noted.

“This fully explains that the OBOR initiative is in line with the trend of the times and conforms to the rules of development and is in line with the interests of the people of all countries and has a broad and bright prospect for development.”