CPEC and India’s Growing Nervousness

Farhat Asif

THE harbinger of peace and prosperity and game changer for Pakistan, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become a pivot for building long lasting partnership between China and Pakistan. Since the inception of this multibillion dollar project, there has remained a visible discomfort and nervousness from the neighbouring countries. The world is changing and so is the vision and dimension of international political scenario; however what has remained a sustainable relationship since the seventy years of chequered history of Pakistan’s foreign relations, is the partnership with China. Both the States have stood with each other in the toughest of the times and relations are based on the geopolitical, economic, historical and strategic interests. The growing geo-strategic and economic ties between Pakistan and China are providing the thrust and uplift to the economy that Pakistan was moving towards. This multibillion dollar project is building life of nearly three billion people across the region. The CPEC connected Gwadar port in the south of Pakistan with the China’s Xingjian province through the connectivity projects has become an emblem of hope and prosperity in the entire region. However as a result of the shift of China towards Pakistan, there is visible opposition of India towards the CPEC.
India has remained opposing and criticizing the growing development related to CPEC and Chinese involvement in the regional economic dominance in the region since its inception in 2015. And when it comes to the development of Pakistan through the project like that of CPEC, there is a natural inclination of India to resist, oppose at all levels and criticize. CPEC somehow intensified the historic competition between China and India as well at several levels of regional dominance. However, India has by all means utilized its manipulative methods to muddle the murky waters further hence sabotaging the CPEC with dissident activities of spies and agents. The recent capture of the Kulbhushan Yadav and visible support to the insurgency in Balochistan clearly reflect the disruption on the part of India to destabilize the region in its favour. India is facing two strong rival powers and India is considering that as a threat towards its possible rise and emergence as a power in the region. The CPEC with its long and short term revolutionary projects of connectivity and energy, is all set to provide the uplift to the economy of Pakistan but with strategic consequence of shifting the regional balance of power in favour of China and Pakistan in the long run. The Indian resistance is also based on the assumption that Pakistan will be able to provide easy and viable access to the Central Asian States as a result of the building of the road and other linkages especially the building of the Gwadar port. This is raising bells in the Indian policy shapers and makers.
China has time and again reiterated that the CPEC or OBOR has nothing to do with the territorial sovereignty and is only based on the economic cooperation. CPEC has also nothing to do with any dispute between the parties. India’s growing concerns are about the projects initiated and economic zones created in the Kashmir region and Gilgit-Baltistan. However when we observe the whole working framework of the CPEC and OBOR, it is loud and clear, that there the whole initiative is open and inclusive and is based on the cooperation to help build life and well being of the communities suffering because of the poverty and access to enough economic empowerment. Pakistan has also clear stance in this regard that there is a deep hope for cooperation, development and benefit of the people with like minded countries and regions. CPEC is comprehensive and broad based economic cooperation project and the protest of India or any other State related to this dynamic project is beyond comprehension. It is not only beneficial for Pakistan but for the entire region as there has been urge as Afghanistan has also been invited to join the CPEC. Rather unlike India, we have observed no opposition from Afghanistan.
Since the promotion of the Gwadar port as being the golden sparrow and a strong knot in the entire CPEC, there will be a well-built Pakistani and Chinese influence in the Arabian Sea. While on the other hand, India has also shown reservation and extended the hands of cooperation with Iran towards making Chabahar port in competition with the Gwadar port. India has always remained critical of building of the Gwadar port rather, it has invested much of the energy and tactics to build narrative of creating competition between Gwadar and Chabahar port of Iran. India visualizes Gwadar port as String of Pearls policy of the extension from its eastern coast to the Arabian Sea. China is also developing ports in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka hence will be a challenge for India to manipulate further. The recent visit of Iranian Foreign Minister has also cleared those apprehensions as well wherein there is a strong desire for collaboration with Pakistan in the Chabahar Port in Iran as well. Iran on the other hand did not oppose CPEC rather it has expressed deep desire to join the Belt and Road Initiative. The strong economic assertion of China in the Arabian Peninsula is considered by the experts as the balancing force and harbinger of peace and stability. India is considering promoting its influence over the Indian Ocean keeping in view that it lies in its backyard and based on the old ideology behind the dominance of the Indian Ocean will decide about the destiny of the world.
Mutual relations between India and China remain on the loggerheads recently, as growing instability at the border regions of China and India, wherein China handled the entire situation in a tactful manner. India must remember that it is better to develop a strategy of cooperation rather creating confrontation in the region as this is 2018 and vision of the world and the emergence of the new dimensions of economies will not accept such tactics. In this growing economic encircling, where China with its wise and stead moves, is setting the pace for economic development, India will have to submit the willingness to support the project like CPEC and beyond.

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