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The Pakistan-china boundary agreement finalizing the border between Pakistan and China was signed in March 1963. This agreement became quite controversial owing to Indian refusal to acknowledge it because she also asserts sovereignty over some of the areas. Besides this controversy, the agreement changed the regional balance by bringing Pakistan and China closer to each other but making the ties between Pakistan and the United States strained at the same time.
Pakistan had expressed some reservations as Chinese maps showed some areas of Pakistan on their side. Ayub Khan asked for clarification, but no reply was received. After Pakistan voted for China to be given a seat in the United Nations Security Council, the Chinese withdrew the maps in January 1962 and she also agreed to enter into talks on the issue. This Chinese willingness to enter into an agreement was welcomed by Pakistan. The talks between the both sides formally began on October 13, 1962 culminating in an agreement that was signed on March 2, 1963 by foreign ministers, Chen Yi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto from China and Pakistan respectively. It resulted in China’s withdrawing from the disputed territory following suit by Pakistan. It demonstrated the aspirations of the people of both countries for the growth of friendly and brotherly relations that was bound to play a helping hand in safeguarding the global peace in the years to come.
The boundary between China and Pakistan had never been demarcated before. The two parties agreed to do so on the basis of tradition. The agreement commencing from Pakistan’s north western frontier at the height of 5,630 meters, the boundary line runs eastward from that point and then South-eastward along the main tributaries of the Tashkurgan River on the one hand running till the tributes of the Hunza river of the Indus river system on the other, through the Kilik Daban , the Mintake Daban , the Kharchanai Daban , the Mutsgila Daban and the Parpik Pass reaching the Khunjerab Daban.
Having passed through the Khunjerab, the boundary line goes generally southward along the afore-mentioned main watershed and the Taghumbash River and the Koliman Su (Oprang Jilga) on the other hand. According to the Chinese map, the boundary line having left the south-eastern point runs along the small section of the Koliman Su to arrive at its confluence with the Kelechin River.
The Pakistani side leaves the south-eastern tip of this spur, reaching the bend of Skgam or Muztagh River. From this point, the boundary runs up the Kelechin River along the middle line of its bed along its confluence with the Shorbulak Daria. From the confluence, the boundary line ascends the top of the spur and runs the Karakoram range’s main watershed.
The two parties have agreed that:
i) “Wherever the boundary follows a river, the middle line of the river bed shall be the boundary line.
ii) Wherever the boundary passes through a pass, the water-parting line thereof shall be the boundary line.
The two parties further agreed that on the settlement of the Kashmir dispute, both sides will reopen talks on the boundary issue.
The agreement was beneficial economically for Pakistan as she received grazing lands in the agreement. However, it was more significant politically because it diminished potential for conflict between both countries. India does not recognize it. The agreement was very significant for the Cold War politics as well. It formed part of an overall growing association between China and Pakistan that was started after the war between India and china. All this resulted in distancing Pakistan from the United State. Moreover, after defining the borders, both the countries also entered into a bilateral agreement on trade and air-travel as well.
So, the agreement was of paramount importance as for as the history of bilateral relationship between both the states are concerned. It not only settled the boundary dispute between both the countries but helped established the friendly relations between them also. However, it was important in other respects as well for the agreement strained Pakistan’s relation with the west besides providing a severe blow to the Kashmir dispute.