Reuters International

Pakistani Army Chief of Staff General Raheel Sharif leaves after attending the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

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By Kay Johnson

GWADAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan's army chief on Tuesday accused longtime regional India of seeking to undermine his country's $46 billion project to build an economic corridor to transport goods from China's western regions through the Pakistani deepwater port of Gwadar.

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, speaking at a development conference on the impact of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said the significance of a Pakistan-China economic alliance had "raised eyebrows" in the region.

"In this context, I must highlight that India, our immediate neighbour, has openly challenged this development initiative," Sharif told the conference in Gwadar.

"I would like to make a special reference to Indian intelligence agency RAW that is blatantly involved in destabilising Pakistan. Let me make it clear that we will not allow anyone to create impediments and turbulence in any part of Pakistan. Therefore, it is important for all to leave behind confrontation and focus on cooperation."

Indian officials could not be reached for comment late on Tuesday night.

RAW is India's Research and Analysis Wing, its main external intelligence agency.

Last month, Pakistan said it had detained a suspected Indian spy for RAW in Baluchistan, the southwestern Pakistani province where most of the CPEC is taking shape.

India has confirmed that the man is a former Indian navy official but denied that he is a spy.

Majority Hindu India and mostly Muslim Pakistan, once part of a vast British colonial holding, have fought three wars since they were partitioned upon independence in 1947, leading to a violent separation that has fed decades of mutual suspicion.

Pakistan believes India is supporting a separatist insurgency in resource-rich Baluchistan. It also accuses India of fuelling strife in the city of Karachi. India denies any such meddling.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants fighting Indian security forces in its part of the divided Kashmir region, of helping militants launch attacks elsewhere in India and backing the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan says it only offers diplomatic support to the Muslim people of Kashmir living under what Pakistan says is heavy-handed Indian rule. It denies backing militant attacks in India.

(Reporting by Kay Johnson; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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