Delhi Objects To WB Loan For Azad Kashmir

New Delhi, July 12: | Updated: Jul 13 2002, 05:30am hrs
Ignoring the sensitivities of New Delhi, which asked the multilateral lending agency to desist from using the term Azad Kashmir for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the World Bank on Friday sanctioned a $20-million loan to the Pakistan government for development of what it termed as Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The credit is for the community infrastructure and services project in the PoK region.

New Delhi has asked, though its executive director on the Bank board BP Singh, to desist from using the term Azad Kashmir with regard to PoK, as this area is a sovereign Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan.

The government of India does not recognise the existence of any such region by this name (Azad Kashmir), the bank was told. Mr Singh wrote a letter after the Bank had finalised an aid package for PoK last December.

According to an official spokesperson in the foreign affairs ministry here on Friday, Mr Singh pointed out to the Bank that the so-called Azad Kashmir has no legal status.

Thereafter, the Bank clarified to the executive director that in using this phrase, it was not passing any judgement on the legal status of that area.

The clarification from the foreign ministry was prompted by fresh reports that the Bank has described PoK as Azad Kashmir while announcing the aid for a developmental project. The Bank has already issued a disclaimer in the matter, he added.

In his communication, Mr Singh wrote we find numerous references to so-called AJK in the document, and stressed that this refers to Indian territory under illegal occupation of Pakistan.