Dr Ramesh K Vankwani
PRIME Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif during his recent visit to Turkey has exchanged his views on various important matters of regional importance; including national mega project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Different news reports related to his statement about western conspiracies against CPEC are still emerging in media. According to my information, the Prime Minister’s did not talk about America and Western countries but rather than that he mentioned regional players, including our western neighbour Afghanistan, are reportedly involved in the conspiracies against CPEC. Before further talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, I would like to highlight another greatest project of last century that was damaged by international conspiracies before completion exactly one hundred years ago.
Before the World War I, Germany was emerging as a fast economic power, and planned around 4500 km long railway track line project from Berlin to Baghdad with primary objectives to strengthening bilateral trade relation with Iraq and promotion of regional connectivity with other countries like Syria, Turkey, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Austria with the railway line. It was the time when different European neighbour countries were in a strained relation with each other. Due to this, Germany also considered the importance of defence line of the project so that in case of war or emergency situation, regional security could be ensured. Establishment of an advanced port at Persian Sea, and fast access and supply of oil from Syria and Iraq were also part of the project. The superpowers of that time felt risks that if the economically fast growing Germany succeeded in this project, then it will not take long time to appear as a new superpower of the world, and with the access to Arab world oil reservoirs the defensive and economic position of Germany will be more strong and invincible. These were the reasons and the causes because of which the imperialists of that time started conspiracies against that great project. To fail that railway line, we see how tension aroused among Austria and Serbia. France and Germany started war and then America, Britain, Russia, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Serbia joined war in support of France. On the other side Turkey, Austria, and Bulgaria also jumped to support Germany and thus the horrific world war started in which half millions of people along with the railway project lost. Later on, after the World War II, Germany who was dreaming for regional connectivity was divided by the imperialists into two parts by constructing the Wall of Berlin.
This terrible incident is a lesson for us so that we can understand the intensity of western conspiracies against China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Our Western neighbor Afghanistan has a hostile attitude towards Pakistan from day one, Afghanistan was the only country who voted against Pakistan for its UN membership in 1947. The Durand Line is still a major factor for regional tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the independence. Many times Government of Pakistan recorded diplomatic protests against Afghanistan on the issue of utilization of Afghan soils against Pakistan. Recent wave of terror across the country is believed to be planned in Afghanistan.
Despite of all these factors Pakistan always try to keep diplomatic relation with its neighbour Afghanistan brotherly. After the invasion of Russian troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan opened its borders for Afghan people and in spite of economic difficulties, Pakistan has honour to host world’s biggest number of refugees. Russia left Afghanistan after the tough resistance in which role of Pakistan is recognized throughout the world. But after looking at the fresh wave of terrorism in our country and collaboration of Afghanistan with India against CPEC, it seems that our western neighbour Afghanistan is still living in the 1947 era. Rapid construction is going on the CPEC project. Chinese trade caravan entered Gilgit-Baltistan from Chinese city Kashgar and after passing on CPEC route left for its next destination via sea route from Gwadar Port which is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Straits of Hormuz, world’s most strategically important choke points.
CPEC has attracted international investors, and the international community including Central Asian States, Russia, European countries and Turkey has expressed the interests to play role for the success of CPEC. While China will get shortest access to global trading markets through Gwadar Port in Arabian Sea, Pakistan will ensure national development where overcoming the ongoing energy crisis is top priority. From the defensive point of view, just like the nuclear tests in 1998 are considered to make national defence stronger, CPEC is helping to strengthen national economy. Indian concerns are quite understandable that because of CPEC Chinese ships will get alternative sea routes to bypass Indian territory but Indian access to the Middle East and western world via sea route could also be limited, China and Pakistan can keep an eye on Indian ships movement in Arabian Sea, etc but landlocked Afghanistan should think before becoming tool of any country that its interest is associated with peaceful relation with Pakistan.
Because of our internal political crisis, CPEC has already been delayed enough, Chinese President’s visit to Pakistan was postponed for one year, and unjustified concerns were raised on the issue of CPEC western route. CPEC opponents were backed by regional powers as an atmosphere of unrest and fear was prevailing from Quetta to Karachi, Balochistan was igniting in the fire of hatred, innocent tribesmen were trapped in anti-state activities, sectarianism was at peak, and CPEC was made controversial on the baseless blames of the political deprivation of smaller provinces.
I believe that Prime Minister has overcome all such internal opposition of CPEC with his political vision and wisdom which can be practically seen in the recently-held Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting in Beijing where all chief ministers were representing their provinces respectively. In this critical situation when common enemies of Pakistan and China are trying to damage the business interests of both friendly countries by doing conspiracies against this great project of 21st century, I think by backing up Afghanistan against Pakistan in this great game, a similar sort of atmosphere is being tried to create which was faced by Germany in the last century.
Although India has opposed CPEC a lot, but by inviting India for trading Prime Minister has taken a positive step for regional peace and prosperity. We need to understand that Narendra Modi has come into power on the basis of Pakistan-bashing but Pakistani people has voted for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to continue the journey of progress and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is becoming a reason of progress and prosperity for Pakistan and entire region. The closed factories are running again as a result of successful struggle to combat energy crisis. CPEC will enable Pakistan to explore new markets in West, Africa, and Latin America. To counter the conspiracies against CPEC through our western neighbour, I believe entire nation must be harmoniously united and pray for the success of Pak-Afghan border Management and Operation Raddul Fasaad.
— The writer is Member National Assembly and Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Hindu Council.