China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Controversy

An All-Parties Conference (APC) has put spoke in the wheel of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), 46 billion dollars project . The opposition parties have expressed concerns over allocation of maximum shares to each province.

Addressing APC meeting on January 11, 2016, Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif tried to explain the important of socio-economic benefit by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the country, particularly, in two un- developed provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The route of CPEC, likely to be completed by December 2016 ,will starts from Kashgar China and will pass through all four provinces including PoK and Gilgit Baltistan and will ends on Gwadar. The Chinese President Xi Jinxing in April, 2015, during his tour to Pakistan, had signed MOUs between the two governments , in which one of the most important and valued project was the project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The project has given opportunity to opposition to play politics putting the China's investment at risk.Abdul Majeed Kanjoo, president Seraiki National Party ,participating in APC categorically said "China and Gwadar are equally important in CPEC, but it is feared that development projects will mostly be utilised in Punjab. This mega project is going to enhance the hegemony of Punjab depriving the weak nations as per track record. Baluchistan will have to pay more, it's land superiority will fizzle with immense demographic change in population.". Punjab has bigger share in projects from Chinese investment under CPEC. Every province is striving within and outside the parliament to become a major beneficiary , except Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), which is the gateway to the multibillion-dollar project. Questions are being raised that how much money will be invested in GB, under this project for industrializations, roads , hydropower stations and protection of environment.

A day before APC meet , Balochistan National Party (BNP) organised a Multi-Party Conference (MPC) with regard to CPEC said it is meant to change the future of the country, but a focus towards a particular province would create problem for the country. "All the provinces should be given their due rights and special attention should be paid to backward provinces such as Balochistan and KP, but the government is bent upon to benefit Punjab by changing the original route of the western route, which we will never be accepted," MPC, in its resolutions demanded, the ownership of Gwadar Mega Project should be handed over to Balochistan, according to the decisions taken in APC of 28th May 2015, and legislation should be carried out to prevent major demographic changes and provision of basic facilities including drinking water to people of Gwadar on urgent basis.

The shortest route to Gwadar doesn't pass through Punjab territory. It's a test case for Punjabi rulers that route through KP , a bit of Seraiki areas and Baloch land is benefited and Punjab should be facilitated. It is largely believed that the future of Seraikis, Pashtuns and Baloch will be darker than ever, said Kanjoo.

Around 3000 Kilometres long economic corridor consisting of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect China’s Xinjiang province to rest of the world through Pakistan’s Gwadar port. Afghanistan, Central Asian states and Russia will also be connected later on . But the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project has deepened the controversy by brining the status of Gilgit-Baltistan into question, which has weakened Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue. The project will pass through, strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan , which does not fall within the ambit of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Since 1947, the region has been treated as a disputed territory and annexed to Jammu and Kashmir. The region is deprived of all fundamental human and civil rights and it has no representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan or any other national legislative body. Since the proposal of CPEC was moved , the Pakistan government never bothered to invite GB officials to any national level meeting. All-Party Conferences held on CPEC addressed smaller provinces’ concerns, but GB was always ignored. India has raised objections due to the disputed status of the region. India has also expressed its concerns regarding "exploitation of resources" and implementation of economic projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir , well known and have been shared with all the countries and organisations concerned. Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told media "The ownership of the Kashmir region is an issue between India and Pakistan left over from history and should be resolved through dialogues and consultations between the two sides,".

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervaiz Khattak has demanded that the federal government to halt all the projects initiated under CPEC as priority is given to eastern route ignoring the western route."It's not a political demand as it's a matter of our right, we don't want to make CPEC controversial as our sole demand is that our rights must not be snatched," he said. Awami National Party (ANP) as well as other opposition political parties have serious reservations that the Pakistan government has adopted a dual policy towards KP intentionally pass over some of projects in the western route

A Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) leader in Pakistan Dr Allah Nazar has termed the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor a conspiracy to divide the Baloch people. "Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is a conspiracy to convert the majority Baloch into a minority in Balochistan. The Baloch nation will stand against it and if God wills, we will fail it," . Around 155,000 people from Balochistan have been evicted by the Pakistan government for the CPEC project.

China, taking notice of political divide among local over CPEC,is apprehensive about future legal complications. Chinese Embassy in Islamabad has said "China hopes that the relevant parties in Pakistan could strengthen communication and coordination on the CPEC to create favourable conditions for the project."


More by :  R C Ganjoo

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