SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - The views ex­pressed herein are the per­sonal views of the author.

Khaled Ahmed, con­sult­ing edi­tor, Newsweek Pak­istan, in his re­cent ar­ti­cle ti­tled ‘Cor­ri­dor of Un­cer­tainty’ writes that Pak­istan’s Gen­eral Aamir Riaz invit­ing In­dia to join the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) is con­di­tional on In­dia call­ing off its Afghan proxy war­riors mo­bilised ex­pressly to dis­rupt CPEC be­cause it “en­dan­gers In­dia’s se­cu­rity”. Whether Riaz has been re­cruited by the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) as an­other joker in the Chi­nese pack is not known but Riaz call­ing his of­fer con­tin­gent upon In­dia call­ing off its Afghan proxy war­riors cer­tainly is joke of the decade, con­sid­er­ing the in­tense proxy war waged by Pak­istan across its western and east­ern bor­ders. What Riaz does not re­alise is that In­dia is never ea­ger to join the CPEC.

On Novem­ber 13, 2016, the CPEC be­came pro­vi­sion­ally op­er­a­tional with the first con­voy of trucks laden with Chi­nese goods travers­ing the CPEC’s 3,000-km jour­ney from Kash­gar in China ar­rivng at Gwadar and fur­ther seen off in a Chi­nese ship from Gwadar to Mid­dle East and Africa. Pak­istan’s top civil­ian and mil­i­tary lead­ers were re­port­edly present at Gwadar to see off the Chi­nese ship. Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif stated that Pak­istan will pro­vide best pos­si­ble se­cu­rity to for­eign in­vestors to en­able them to use Gwadar for in­ter­na­tional trade.

The CPEC is to ab­sorb $46 bil­lion Chi­nese in­vest­ment — $11 bil­lion by Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment and bal­ance $35 bil­lion by pri­vate com­pa­nies of China. Pak­istan ex­pects its GDP to rise be­cause of the CPEC and 7,00,000 jobs for Pak­ista­nis. No Pak­istani can en­ter Gwadar Port (guarded by PLA) with­out valid ID card. Pak­istan is re­spon­si­ble for the se­cu­rity of the CPEC with all costs to be borne by Pak­istan. Pak­istan has raised ad­di­tional forces for specif­i­cally guard­ing the CPEC, with ma­jor por­tion of this spe­cial se­cu­rity force de­ployed in Baluchis­tan. Ob­vi­ously, Nawaz Sharif and Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary hi­er­ar­chy re­ceived hefty bribes for bar­ter­ing Pak­istan’s sovereignty to China in ex­change of Gwadar and the CPEC.

As per an­a­lysts, eco­nom­i­cally it is 11 times cheaper to trans­port the same goods by sea even to and from China than through the CPEC, even though the sea jour­ney is longer. But the CPEC is al­ter­ative to the Malacca Dilemma of China should the Straits of Malacca get choked. Un­der cover of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity for “mu­tual ben­e­fit” and “good for the re­gion”, what China would never ad­mit is that the CPEC is China’s Strate­gic High­way to the In­dian Ocean. The CPEC be­came even more im­por­tant when Myan­mar de­nied China the use of its ter­ri­tory for sim- ilar strate­gic pur­pose. China keeps harp­ing for In­dia to join the CPEC but on the ques­tion of land ac­cess for In­dia to Afghanistan and Cen­tral Asia, re­sponds that CPEC is only bi­lat­eral ar­range­ment with Pak­istan. The ob­vi­ous in­ten­tion is to keep In­dia re­strained, plus if CPEC is only ‘bi­lat­eral’ ar­range­ment then why the façade of ask­ing In­dia to join it? Clearly, Gwadar is a fu­ture Chi­nese SSBN base, which to­gether with the Pak­istani naval bases of Karachi and Omari to which China has ac­cess, would chal­lenge In­dia at sea.

China has deep links with Tal­iban even the ones based in Qatar, Pak­istan has hold on both Tal­iban through the Haqqani Net­work chief Si­ra­jud­din Haqqani, the ISIS in Af-Pak is the cre­ation of Pak­istan, and most im­por­tantly all Pak­istani prox­ies also are Chi­nese prox­ies. That is why with the strate­gic though covert lodg­ment of PLA in PoK and Pak­istan, ter­ror at­tacks in Afghanistan and vi­o­lence in Jammu and Kash­mir in­clud­ing cease­fire vi­o­la­tions by Pak­istan have shot up ex­po­nen­tially. Pak­istani ob­jec­tive of carv­ing out more Afghan ter­ri­tory as strate­gic depth (im­ply­ing in­flu­ence at sub­con­ven­tional level) is in sync with China’s strate­gic de­signs. Pak­istan’s grow­ing hos­til­ity to­wards In­dia suits China sim­i­larly. Re­peated ter­ror at­tacks in Baluchis­tan aids Pak­istani de­signs to sub­due the Baluch pop­u­la­tion and elim­i­nate max­i­mum non-Sun­nis in the en­tire coun­try.

Ter­ror at­tacks against Baluchis suit China very well too as it de­sists Baluch rebels from any fee­ble at­tempts to dis­rupt the CPEC which any­way is guarded by the Pak­istani Army. In­dia should never join the CPEC be­cause: one, it does not give land ac­cess to In­dia to Afghanistan and Cen­tral Asia through Pak­istan, which In­dia has al­ways wanted; two, it may in­crease In­dia-China trade but with the ex­ist­ing bi­lat­eral im­bal­ance heav­ily in favour of China (ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in Par­lia­ment, it stood at close to $45 bil­lion in 2015-16 with In­dia’s ex­ports amount­ing to only around $8 bil­lion), it would re­sult in in­creased im­bal­ance man­i­fold with in­creased Chi­nese bel­liger­ence, hav­ing conned In­dia into such ar­range­ment; three, it would le­git­imise PLA lodg­ment and projects in Gil­git-Baltistan (In­dian ter­ri­tory) un­der­taken with­out any ref­er­ence to In­dia; four, it would also in­di­cate In­dia’s in­tran­si­gence to Pak­istan’s geno­cide in Balochis­tam, fully backed by China, and; five, most im­por­tantly it will fit into Chi­nese plans to keep In­dia boxed into South Asia.

Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif un­veil­ing the plaque of CEPC pi­lot project at Gwadar in 2016



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