Chal­lenges to China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor

The Diplomatic Insight - - News - Sana Tuba Is­lam

Pak­istan and china al­ways en­joyed close and sup­port­ive re­la­tion­ship and have regularly ex­changed high­level vis­its and mul­ti­ple agree­ments. Both states con­sider each other the strate­gic ally. China al­ways pro­vided Pak­istan with eco­nomic, mil­i­tary and tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance. Chi­nese eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with Pak­istan has reached at high points, with ex­ten­sive Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Pak­istani in­fras­truc­tural growth. As china is emerg­ing with the im­age of new soft su­per power, Pak­istan’s geostrate­gic lo­ca­tion has be­come more im­por­tant to china in or­der to ac­cess the new trade routes be­tween Cen­tral Asia, South Asia and Mid­dle East. The build­ing of the Pak­istan China Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor is a part of same se­ries. The idea to es­tab­lish an eco­nomic cor­ri­dor ap­peared in the 2000s. But it gained more im­por­tance un­der the lead­er­ship of Xi Jin­ping. Since then it be­came the cen­tral theme of dis­cus­sion on ad­min­is­tra­tive level on both sides. In May 2013, dur­ing Premier Li Ke­qiang visit to Pak­istan, The two sides signed con­tracts on the pro­posal for Pak­istan China Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) which is an ad­vanced megapro­ject. The lead­ing point of Chi­nese pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping re­cent visit to Pak­istan also has been the China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor. The CPEC is quoted as an im­por­tant part in un­der­stand­ing the po­ten­tial of re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity and trade by con­nect­ing Gwadar Port in south­west­ern Pak­istan to the north­west­ern of China’s self-gov­ern­ing re­gion of Xin­jiang, by the net­work of highways, rail­ways and pipe­lines. In this way Pak­istan will be able to con­nect china with the mar­kets in Cen­tral Asia, South Asia and the Mid­dle East. The cost which is as­sessed on the whole con­struc­tion is $46 bil­lion, and the in so many years. The CPEC is a vast net­work it will goose the growth of in­dus­trial zones sup­ported by power plants, join­ing Kash­gar in China to Gwadar in Pak­istan. The CPEC pro­ject is in progress, how­ever it is of huge im­por­tance and for china but also for Pak­istan. It will change the geo-strate­gic po­si­tion of Pak­istan. But the pro­ject is fac­ing a va­ri­ety of chal­lenges that strive to erode chal­lenges can be di­vided into po­lit­i­cal, have fur­ther in­ter­nal or the ex­ter­nal di­men­sions. and in­se­cu­rity. Po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity in a coun­try is a ma­jor ob­sta­cle in the way of de­vel­op­ment of projects. Pak­istan also has a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, since its in­de­pen­dence Pak­istan is fac­ing Po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity which al­ways re­main a ma­jor cause to weak­en­ing the state. CPEC is also not de­void of it. Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to Pak­istan was can­celled In Septem­ber 2014 be­cause of the protests in Is­lam­abad run by Pak­istan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Im­ran Khan’s Tehreek-e-In­saaf (PTI). Although when the prob­lem was re­solved the PTI it­self played a grate­ful role in call­ing for na­tional sup­port for the CPEC. All sides should re­frain from tak­ing the ac­tions that could be­come the cause of dam­ag­ing of na­tion build­ing ini­tia­tive. Re­cently some sub-na­tion­al­ist par­ties are prop­a­gat­ing that a change in the routes by the gov­ern­ment, that would merely sup­port the eastern prov­inces and divest the western prov­inces of Pak­istan. De­spite this the claim has no facts on the ground. Pak­istani and Chi­nese gov­ern­ments have tried to ad­dress con­cerns by com­mu­ni­cat­ing with po­lit­i­cal par­ties that are mak­ing the ac­cu­sa­tions. There are also some po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges on in­ter­na­tional level. On in­ter­na­tional CPEC is a cause of alarm es­pe­cially to the U.S. and In­dia, who con­sider it China’s strat­egy aim­ing to en­cir­cle In­dia. In­dia tries to stop the con­struc­tion of the CPEC by diplo­matic ap­proach. In­dian prime min­is­ter dur­ing his visit to china raised the is­sue that CPEC through Pak­istanoc­cu­pied Kash­mir is un­ac­cept­able. On 15th June 2015 Pak­istan Pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain crit­i­cized In­dia and ac­cused it for a “shame­less pro­pa­ganda” against the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC). The sec­ond ma­jor

ex­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal chal­lenge is posed by United States. US con­sid­ered the threat to its su­per power sta­tus. USA is also anx­ious be­cause of Chi­nese strate­gic ac­cess to the Ara­bian Sea and its ex­is­tence in the re­gion. Along with this con­struc­tion of China’s navy and its ac­tiv­i­ties in the In­dian Ocean raise the USA con­cerns about CPEC. It tried many times to de­ter Pak­istan to in­volve with china’s de­vel­op­ment. USA is a To re­frain any such ef­forts by for­eign gov­ern­ments there is a fun­da­men­tal need to en­gage in diplo­matic drive. As we know Pak­istan is en­gag­ing in war against ter­ror­ism for sev­eral year ago. So the Se­cu­rity is­sues re­main the most pri­mary chal­lenge to the CPEC and there is a se­ries of ac­tions that threaten the CPEC pro­ject In­side Pak­istan it­self. There is a num­ber of or­ga­ni­za­tions Pro­trud­ing from Xin­jiang to Gwadar con­sist­ing of groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehreeke-Tal­iban Pak­istan (TTP), Baluchis­tan Lib­er­a­tion Front (BLF), Baluchis­tan Lib­er­a­tion Army (BLA), Daesh (ISIS), East Turkestan Is­lamic Move­ment (ETIM) and mil­i­tant groups of po­lit­i­cal forces. Many of these or­ga­ni­za­tions might not have any hos­til­ity with China it­self but they can use at­tacks against the Pak­istan’s in­ter­ests as a means to deal with the Pak­istani state. In an at­tack by Baluchis­tan Lib­er­a­tion Army in 2006 some Chi­nese engi­neers lost their lives. So be­cause of these se­cu­rity is­sues in Pak­istan Chi­nese gov­ern­ment have their con­cern about the se­cu­rity of their engi­neers, work­ers and ex­perts. Baluchis­tan in­sur­gen­cies, the cur­rent shock­ing mur­der of 43 peo­ple of Is­maili Com­mu­nity in Karachi, Pos­si­ble spillover from Afghanistan and the sit­u­a­tion of Gil­git-Baltistan which is the most im­por­tant re­gion that pro­vides China with only land link to Pak­istan, these all as­pects to­gether are a ma­jor source of dan­ger for the pro­ject. On china side Xin­jiang Self-gov­ern­ing Re­gion emerged as of ma­jor con­cern do­mes­ti­cally for China be­cause of low de­vel­op­ment and eth­nic ten­sions pri­mar­ily con­cern­ing the Mus­lim china wants to in­crease eco­nomic that un­em­ploy­ment and poverty is a ma­jor cause of dis­sat­is­fac­tion. For­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies are also en­gaged against and mag­nify their sup­port to the mil­i­tants to dis­rupt the CPEC. Home Min­is­ter Sar­fraz Bugti in his con­fer­ence at Quetta men­tions that “the In­dian Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing (RAW) are con­spir­ing against Pak­istan af­ter the his­toric China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) agree­ment”. China Pak­istan eco­nomic cor­ri­dor as an eco­nomic ini­tia­tive is fac­ing chal­lenge posed by the ri­vals. The Ira­nian port of Chaba­har. Chaba­har is a quiet sim­i­lar pro­ject to CPEC but not as huge as CPEC. In­dia sign­ing agree­ment to con­struct the Chaba­har Port to counter the CPEC and China’s Although In­dia’s Chaba­har port pro­ject has been pend­ing since 2003, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to Pak­istan has prompted re­newed in­ter­ests in the Modi gov­ern­ment. In­dia’s plan for the in­vest­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of Chaba­har al­most $85 mil­lion. Chaba­har port lies a few miles away from Gwadar and it will pro­vide ac­cess to In­dia to land­locked Afghanistan and Cen­tral Asia. The port will al­low the In­dian goods into Cen­tral Asia and a chance re­gion. Chaba­har port is cru­cial for In­dia be­cause Pak­istan will never al­low In­dia-Afghanistan trade through its ter­ri­tory. In­deed, CPEC pro­ject mainly in China’s own in­ter­est but it is also much the Pak­istan’s geopo­lit­i­cal im­por­tance and will also strengthen the Pak­istan’s eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture. But some anti-state el­e­ments are con­tin­u­ously try­ing to sabotage the CPEC for their so called self-in­ter­ests. Both states need a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy to deal with these chal­lenges. Pak­istan and China should re­main close to counter these evil forces and to make the CPEC a suc­cess­ful pro­ject.

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