Sultan M Hali
With the advent of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the benefits it will accrue Pakistan, the detractors of the mega project are getting jittery. 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 the Baloch, average Pakistanis and the people in the region into a new dimension of progress and prosperity.
The development of the deep sea port of Gawadar raises the hackles of the likes of India and its partner in bilateral logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA) and Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) since both harbor hegemonistic designs against other countries. They assume that China too will spread its tentacles and muscles against its neighbours. They misread Chinese 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 Gawadar. The move did not irk the Chinese as they commented that “the more the merrier!”
India’s next ploy was physical sabotage, subversion and sedition. It launched 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 sabotaged 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. “Arthashastra” of Chanakya, the famous treatise on state craft composed some twenty-three hundred years ago provides detailed guidance on state craft by integrating the discussions on State Policy, Civil Administration, Financial Resources and their management, and the art of war in a highly systematic manner. Chanakya presaged the concept of the use of the weapons of diplomacy and force with a strong preference for the former in all its forms so as to make state administration essentially a work of art requiring the utmost deceit and guile. India follows it in letter and spirit. India and its partner in crime for derailing CPEC have 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 the Sino-Pak iron brothers.
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. U.S., 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 it has withdrawn its forces from war-torn Afghanistan, its interest in the region has diminished apart from its disquiet regarding Chinese presence in Gawadar; the US has also reduced the coalition support fund payments to Pakistan for combating terrorism.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is willing to tender financial support but would like to have its pound of flesh in return. United Arab Emirates, which was a traditional ally of Pakistan, has chosen to oppose Gawadar, since it perceives it to rival its own ports. In this bleak scenario, some Pakistani commentators are biting the very hand that feeds it. One such comment titled ‘The coming invasion’ uses the derogatory term of ‘invasion’ for Chinese investment in Pakistan, published on the eve of the CPEC Expo. The financial managers of Pakistan are neither blind, nor is someone holding a gun to their head to jump headlong into the CPEC. The project has been whetted, scrutinized and examined by feasibility experts only then the dotted lines were signed.
The same commentator states, “Let’s be clear of one thing; debt or equity, CPEC is not about free money, and China will want all this money back, whether that is with interest or profit is hardly relevant. And until such time we have not paid back all their money, they will own the underlying assets in Pakistan, which include highways covering the length and breadth of the country to which they will have unrestrained access, power projects, orange lines, and that is not the end of it.”
The time tested and all weather friend of Pakistan’s intent should not be doubted. Readers may perhaps recall that in Pakistan’s formative years, China extended financial support to Pakistan in the shape of soft term loans. Then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was approached that the loan should be turned into a grant as Pakistan may not be able to return the loan in good time. A true friend of Pakistan Premier Zhou responded that China had deliberately termed the financial assistance as loan since it did not want the world to think that Pakistan was surviving on alms. He reassured that even in fifty years, Pakistan was unable to return the loan, it will be written off. Such is the strength of Sino Pakistan ties. Ill befalls those who doubt the strength of Sino-Pak relations and China’s sincerity.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.