Raza Muhammad Khan
The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation. The CPEC is located at the hub of the BRI and is a pivotal component of its 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It can fetch unprecedented and unconditional prosperity and peace dividends for the entire South and Central Asian region and scores of the 60 plus BRI countries. As part of the CPEC, the Gwadar port can offer indirect benefits to many of the 32 littoral states of the Indian Ocean that may not be part of the BRI. Regrettably, some powers are opposing this progress for their own perverted and trivial reasons. They are creating overt and covert hurdles in its implementation and are displaying competitive, rather than cooperative reactions. Rival projects like the US sponsored ‘New Silk Road package’, in partnership with India and Afghanistan and the ‘Indo-Pacific Freedom Corridor’ proposed by India and Japan, have been prompted by the CPEC. Similarly, Indian investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar is intended to contest with growth of Gwadar port. China and Pakistan have rightly not shown any aversion to the competition, though India has already started misusing the Chabahar project for aiding, abetting and sponsoring RAW terrorist networks to disrupt the CPEC. Of greater concern are the numerous efforts and international conspiracies, engineered by India and supported by others, to sabotage the CPEC. Indian hostile activities in Pakistan intensified within days of the inauguration of the CPEC shipments. Attempts include numerous Indian terrorist activities in Balochistan in collaboration with Afghanistan that are mentioned in the confessions of Commander Jhadav.
Frequent disinformation campaigns about CPEC have also simultaneously been launched inside Pakistan. All these highly provocative actions are part of a well thought and integrated, international conspiracy that is tantamount to an undeclared war, as they pose a direct threat to the national interests of not only China and Pakistan but many other countries that could benefit from the BRI and the CPEC. US support to India on the matter, under this environment is very short sighted indeed.
Though challenges to CPEC appear daunting but they can be surmounted. The Pakistani Foreign Office has taken note of some of more serious developments and has initiated appropriate action to condemn and reject hostile measures against the CPEC, calling them as an infringement of the UN Charter and impingement of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, this has been done somewhat cautiously and at a rather low level, so far. There is a need to concomitantly and officially communicate our concerns, at the highest level, to the heads of the foreign governments that are opposing the CPEC. This should be done jointly and severally by Pakistan and China, in consultation with the other countries that are part of the BRI. Our response should include manifold collective remedies and counteractions, to compel the antagonists of the CPEC to desist from hurting our economic interests. The BRI has recently been written into China’s constitution. Being a vital interest, the Pakistani government must also provide constitutional protection to the CPEC. Negative propaganda against the CPEC must be dispelled through Sino-Pak state and private media, ensuring transparency of planning, as well as execution and arranging seminars and workshops.
While the government has raised special security force for the protection of the CPEC, this must be augmented with a Pak-China CPEC intelligence organization, satellitemonitoring and enhanced maritime collaboration. Another multinational organization, led by China, must be formed to respond to the threats posed to the BRI, through coordinated political, diplomatic, economic, security and surveillance measures.
Despite heavy odds, many CPEC projects are already up and running. This is a clear message about the resilience and determination of the Chinese and the Pakistani people, who are committed to its success, not only for their own benefit, but also for others to diversify and develop their economies. This should inspire everyone to support, rather than oppose the CPEC.