Sultan M Hali
WITH the advent of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the benefits it will accrue Pakistan and China, the detractors of the mega project have their knives out to sabotage it. Those opposing CPEC directly or through their proxy India, find it discomforting that Pakistan and China are fully determined to see the fruition of the multi-layered project, which will propel the lives of Baloch, average Pakistanis and the people in region into a new dimension of progress and prosperity.
For the last two weeks, this scribe has been on various Indian TV Channels, where Indian participants have been denigrating the CPEC with the utmost venom. Indian mortification is perhaps because the development of the deep sea port of Gawadar, which raises the hackles of both India and its partner in bilateral logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA) and Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) since both harbor hegemonic designs against other countries. They assume that China too will spread its tentacles and muscles against its neighbours. They misread China’s intentions of sharing its largesse with its less fortunate neighbours by providing them assistance in infrastructure development. The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB) is ample proof of Chinese noble intentions. India on the other hand, goaded by its strategic partner, has tried every trick in the book to sabotage and derail CPEC. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally complained to China asking it to drop the CPEC Project on the flimsy excuse that it was traversing through the disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan. President Xi Jinping shot down the Indian objection stating that CPEC was a commercial venture and not a strategic one. India tried to create diversionary tactics by roping in Iran and developing its port of Chah Bahar and building the Delaram Zaranj highway to connect Afghanistan and entice the Central Asian States to use the port of Chah Bahar instead of Gwadar. The move did not irk the Chinese as they brushed it off, commenting: “the more the merrier!”
India’s next ploy was physical sabotage, subversion and sedition through its secret service Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) operatives in Balochistan, to exploit the sense of deprivation of some Baloch dissidents and train them into subversion and create insurgency so that CPEC is incapacitated and the Chinese ditch the project owing to security concerns. The arrest and admission of guilt by senior RAW terror monger Naval Commander Kulbhoshan Yadav exposed the heinous Indian agenda. A fresh tactic has been employed by the followers of Chanakyan dictums. India has prevailed on certain Pakistani analysts, opinion builders and columnists to deprecate CPEC and sow elements of doubt in the minds of average Pakistanis and also drive a wedge between China-Pak iron brothers.
It is more irksome when some Pakistani intellectuals jump on the bandwagon of CPEC bashing without seeing the bigger picture. These Pakistani analysts, either unwittingly or deliberately have embarked upon a trail of self destruction. In this time and age, where Pakistan is battling terrorists and miscreants as well as facing the onslaught of Indian aggression, is faced with acute energy shortage, unemployment, water and food shortage, disease, poverty, deprivation and a dwindling economy, the only country that has extended its support is China. US, which was an ally of Pakistan in the long drawn war on terror, provided financial support as long as Pakistan was pulling its chestnuts out of the fire. Now that the US has withdrawn its forces from war-torn Afghanistan, its interest in the region has diminished apart from its disquiet regarding Chinese presence in Gwadar; the US has also reduced the coalition support fund payments to Pakistan for combating terrorism.
Dr. Shabir Chaudhry, who is of Kashmiri origin, in a series of articles like ‘CPEC is not a holy cow’ and ‘CPEC and dollars are more important to Pakistan than interest of Muslims’, has challenged the efficacy of CPEC. Dr. Shabir Chaudhry, founder member of JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front established in 1977) and its elected Press Secretary in 1984, finds it expedient to conclude that the status of Jammu and Kashmir dispute and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) can change because of the CPEC. He believes that a demographic change would occur because of hundreds of thousands of non local people taking residence in GB will control local economy and politics and exploit its resources. He also laments that GB will suffer from enormous environment problems while the growing influence and power of secret agencies of Pakistan and competing interests of secret agencies of other countries will be detrimental to the progress of GB. The stationing of foreign troops to protect the CEPC route and the possible stationing of non state actors of countries or groups who want to sabotage the project will make GB a theatre of proxy war.
Whereas Dr Shabir Chaudhry’s credential as a patriot cannot be doubted but the counter question is that being an influential opinion builder and JKLF party member, why he cannot use his influence to safeguard the interests of the people of GB in parliament? Then there are opinion builders like Khaled Ahmed, consulting editor “Newsweek” Pakistan, playing to the gallery in India. While commenting in his Op-Ed ‘Corridor of Uncertainty’ carried by “Indian Express” of December 31, 2016, Khaled Ahmed quotes Commander Southern Command Lt General Amir Riaz, who sent a clear message to arch-enemy India: “Join CPEC and share the fruits of future development by shelving your anti-Pakistan activities and subversion.”
After going into a long tirade of all that ails Pakistan and quoting non Pakistani sources, the learned columnist concludes: “For the time being the CPEC, far from being one of the greatest war-preventing trade arteries in the world, might unleash a new war, based on India’s perception that it contains Gwadar port in Pakistan as a military outpost of China targeting India”. The solution perhaps lies in India joining CPEC to reap its benefits including its outreach to Central Asian States rather than opposing it tooth and nail.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.