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May 15, 2015

Pakistan-China relations and CPEC


May 15, 2015

Chinese President his Excellency Xi Jinping during his two days momentous visit to Islamabad during last month has green-lighted an initial $28 billion investment for infrastructure projects in Pakistan as a significant component of $46 billion investment plan that calls for completion in next decade. China has plans to inject more than $64 billion of capital into policy banks to kick off New Silk Road plans to initially build cutting-edge infrastructure links with regional and international markets. Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy includes plans to build roads, railways, ports, natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure stretching into South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and through Central Asia to Europe.
In particular the proposed economic corridor will connect northwestern Chinese province of Xingjian with the Pakistani port of Gwadar through a forward-looking network of roads and provide Pakistan with much-needed economic boost in shape of infrastructure, especially power-generation projects. One of the major impediments to economic progress is shortage of energy as Pakistan’s acute electricity shortage leads to hours of daily scheduled power cuts to both domestic and commercial consumers. This downside has significantly discouraged meaningful investments both from domestic and regional investors while affecting exports and balance of trade due to high cost of production resulting into holding back economic growth. China’s generous investment in diverse projects including infrastructure and power generation will bring paradigm change not only in the economic and social uplift progress of Pakistan but also act as force multiplier to strengthen multilateral relations within region.
Such level of huge investment is in effect the product of Pakistan-China bilateral friendship and Beijing’s diplomatic success in securing the support of 50 countries for the China-led Asia infrastructure Investment Bank, despite open and oblique

objections of America and India for obvious reasons. The 3,000-kilometer corridor will generate massive economic revolution not only in Pakistan but also prove a source of progress, peace and security crossways the region including Afghanistan that has been devastated as a result of American led war on terror. Fortunately realizing the intentions and magnitude of exhibited hostility from Pakistan’s regional and extra regional adversaries specifically India, Pakistan has announced to establish a special security force to guard all Chinese projects across Pakistan against potential sabotage plans orchestrated by internal and external elements including terrorists groups and sub-nationalist renegades.
Pakistan has been continuously been experiencing a multitude of threats ranging from Taliban, Baloch insurgents and a complicated mix of urban crime, turf war, ethnic, linguistic, religious, sectarian and political challenge in the country’s biggest city, Karachi. In such a situation there is a possibility of stirring up opinions through domestic spoilers by global and regional players in line with strategic objectives to contain China and undermine nuclear Pakistan. Both political and military leadership has emerged as chief guarantors of peace in Afghanistan, in partnership with China. Pakistan with the active support of security structure has taken a bold decision to establish an exclusive security force to shield against potential disruption plans. Despite fortifying physical security for workers and infrastructure, there is a dire requirement on the part of political as well as public service leadership to guard against adversaries’ repeated attempts for infringing upon policy decisions with regard to this historical investment that is termed as game changer.
In presence of multiple conflicts that have been choreographed in cross-border regions like Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and certain parts of Gilgit-Baltistan region infested with fanaticism/extremism and sectarian polarization for decades needs to be given unprecedented attention at top priority to defeat potential damage to the CPEC. It is equally important to understand that China’s move to create a major economic corridor through Pakistan will surely put these areas geopolitical significance on a higher pedestal. So far, these tensions and irritants have been brewing in the background and controlled adequately by Pakistan yet the CPEC will certainly bring these issues to the forefront. Balochistan is in the process of becoming strategically important. This process has to involve Pakistan, China, India and Iran and it has potentials to intersect with the existing regional tribulations of which there is no dearth.
In the meanwhile India has already initiated its efforts with the tacit thrust of global powers by inking deal with Iran for construction of two berths as container and cargo terminals and further development of Iran’s Chabahar port which is next to Pakistan’s Gwadar port. India’s quick reaction has come only few weeks after China unveiled infrastructure projects in Pakistan. This proposal though has been pending since 2003. India’s cabinet has signed off on the formation of a joint venture company to initially invest more than $85 million in the development of the port, which they believe will be a means to reach Afghanistan without having to rely on Pakistan.

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