China will not pick sides in the India-Pakistan dispute as its primary aim is to develop the “poor and backward” Kashmir, a state media opinion piece has said, adding that Beijing is willing to be the mediator to defuse tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

The editorial dismissed India’s concerns about China’s consistent support to Pakistan based terrorist and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief, Masood Azhar, by not allowing him to be listed as a terrorist in the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“The disputed Kashmir region is not destined to be poor and backward forever. This is China’s goal and should also be the goal of both India and Pakistan. If the two countries can meet each other halfway, it would help them to build mutual trust, lay the foundation for peaceful negotiations and especially strengthen their cooperation on anti-terrorism together with China,” state controlled nationalistic tabloid Global Times said in an opinion piece.

“China will not pick sides in India-Pakistan disputes. Aiming at easing the two countries’ conflicts and improving the anti-terrorist situation, China will play the role of a mediator and facilitator amid the ongoing tensions.”

Islamabad has been under international pressure to act against terror groups operating from its soil, including JeM, which claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide bombing in Pulwama that killed 40 Indian troops.

The attack one of the worst in Kashmir led to serious escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, with India conducting an air strike on a JeM camp in Pakistan, and engaging in an aerial dogfight with Pakistan along the border.

Last week, China sent vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou to Pakistan to discuss the tensions.

Kong, who met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, assured Islamabad of Beijing’s support for peace and stability.

The editorial said it was “irresponsible” to blame China for protecting alleged terrorists.

“However, some Indians doubt China’s efforts. Some Indian experts blamed China for “continued protection” of terrorists who were allegedly based in Pakistan and launched the Pulwama terror attack in February. And many Indian analysts regard China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a geopolitical threat,” it said.

“Such irresponsible statements are not supported by facts. Foreign ministers of China, Russia, and India held the 16th trilateral meeting on February 27. During the meeting, they vowed to eradicate breeding grounds of terrorism and extremism. In fact, China, Pakistan, and India share common interests in combating terrorism. It is time for India to stop the groundless accusations,” it said.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship infrastructure project under the BRI, passes through Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK). India has repeatedly told China that it cannot join BRI as the CPEC violates its territorial sovereignty.

The editorial however said that India should overcome its prejudices against the BRI as it would boost cooperation and help bring stability to the region.

“And India should also understand this: Although China supported Pakistan in alleviating poverty and wiping out terrorism, Beijing is not an enemy of New Delhi. Just the opposite: China proposed and launched the BRI, which not only meets India’s needs for infrastructure construction but also helps ease India-Pakistan tensions,” it said.

“We believe that political consultation must be the only channel to resolve the disputes. This is China’s consistent policy, and nothing will change China’s firm stand in promoting peaceful negotiations between India and Pakistan,” it said.

Editor’s note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.