Monday, 30 May 2016

CPEC project should empower local people

CPEC project should empower local people, 29 May 2016
Title of the Conference: How China Pakistan Economic Corridor will affect people of former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir?
The Conference was organised in Birmingham, England by Jammu Kashmir International People’s Alliance.
Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues Aslamo alaikam.
Right to development is a fundamental human right, because development is imperative for human life and for the progress of human societies. The UN General Assembly on 4 December 1986, in its Declaration on the Right to Development stated in article 1, and I quote:
The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.
Article 2
The human person is the central subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of the right to development. Unquote

Mr Chairman, I know there are people with nefarious agenda to promote us and this conference as anti CPEC conference. Let me make it clear publically that we are not against the CPEC. We are not against Pakistan. We are not against Pakistan’s right to development.
Mr Chairman
We are not against development, as pointed out earlier. However, we are against oppression, exploitation and injustice. We want to see ordinary people of Pakistan and Gilgit Baltistan benefiting from rewards of this mega project. We don’t want just some people of Pakistan and China getting richer, while ordinary people continue to suffer. If this is anti Pakistan agenda, then you might consider us as anti Pakistan.
Frankly speaking, we don’t care what others think of us. We are thinking people with ability and experience to formulate pro peace and pro people policies. We don’t accept any dictation from any quarter; and do not change our policies just because some people dislike them.
We know some people in Pakistan have so much ill gotten money that they don’t know how much they have as most of that is hidden abroad; and tragedy is their fellow citizens do not have even the basic facilities like clean water and food. Many die due to hunger and lack of medical care; yet the ruling elite wants more nuclear bombs, more missiles and more jet fighters. It looks welfare of the ordinary people is not their priority. Sad thing is, when we point this out, we are called anti Pakistan.
I know some people say that we should only limit ourselves to the problems related to Jammu and Kashmir, and must not interfere with Pakistan’s internal matter. I am not sure if this is the right policy. People of Pakistan are our brothers. If they suffer due to wrong policies of their rulers should we remain quiet? Or should we make alliance with the suffering people and formulate joint strategies to help each other because we both suffer from the wrong policies of the same ruling elite?
Mr Chairman
Friendship of countries is not based on love and affection, it is all to do with economic, strategic and political interests; and that is what policy makers of Pakistan need to understand. China is not investing 46 billion dollars because they love Pakistan. They are doing this for business and strategic interests; and they will get very high returns on their investment.
It must be pointed out that China is also investing in many other countries, including India and Iran. At present Chinese trade with Pakistan is 16 Billion dollars. Despite international sanctions against Iran up till very recently, Chinese trade with Iran is 50 billion, and they plan to increase it further.
China has serious border disputes with India, and they are considered as rivals as well, yet Chinese trade with India is 75 billion; and they are planning to take it up to 100 billion. Are Chinese so unwise that they will jeopardise their trade and other interests with India and Iran for the sake of Pakistan? The Pakistani policy makers need to wake up and understand dynamics of international relations and national interests of countries.
While Islamabad sends militants and weapons across the border to Afghanistan; New Delhi provides millions of dollars in aid to build infrastructure in Afghanistan.  India even built Afghanistan’s new Parliament at the cost of 90 million US dollars, which Mr Modi inaugurated in December 2015.
Policy makers of Islamabad must abandon their cold war policies. They need to understand that the world has changed; and new strategy is required to deal with problems of today. You can no longer rely on gun boat diplomacy. Policy of strategic depth and intimidating neighbours with guns and threats of nuclear weapons is counter - productive.
Mr Chairman
It should also be understood that religion is not a determining factor in international relations and friendship between the nations. Prime Minister Modi, despite all the propaganda about his anti Muslim policies, was received as the most valued guest in Saudi Arabia and awarded the highest civilian award.

Mr Modi was also received as a distinguished guest in Iran when he visited Tehran to sign a mega project with Afghanistan and Iran, which is known as India, Afghanistan and Iran Transport Corridor. Some people call this project alternative to CPEC which will give India direct access to Central Asia by -passing Pakistan. Wall Street Journal quoted Mr Modi saying that we should:

“Carve out new routes for peace and prosperity.. Afghanistan will get an assured, effective and a more friendly route to trade with the rest of the world”. He further said this deal could “alter the course of history of this region” and help India, Afghanistan and Iran “to eventually build what we all desire and deserve—a friendly and healthy neighbourhood.” 1
It must be noted that Pakistani security establishment regard India as arch enemy, hence tension and armed skirmishes between the both countries. It is sad that Pakistan’s relations with both Muslim neighbours Iran and Afghanistan are strained; however, they both are friendly with India, which proves my point that religion is not the determining factor in international relations.
Pakistani policy makers also need to understand that the nature of global engagement has changed over the past decades, and they can no longer continue with the thinking of cold war era. In the political environment of today international ties and friendship requires trust and sincere cooperation, and not suspicion and dominance.
Under the deal with Iran, New Delhi will invest $200 million to develop two terminals and five berths at Chabahar; and an additional $300 million will be available for the port and development of related infrastructure.
The corridor from Chabahar will run to Zaranj, an Afghan border town already connected by a 135-mile, Indian-built highway to Delaram, to the northeast.
Also India is a part of the International North-South Transport Corridor, which plans to link India and Iran to Central Asia and Russia.
India also wants a regional connectivity, as Mr. Modi wants to boost the country’s economy. It has moved forward on a deal to facilitate the movement of goods, vehicles and people across borders between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.
On the issue of Chabahar project Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: Chabahar and Gwadar will complement each other rather than compete. The two would be “sister ports.”
I am not sure if the real rulers of Pakistan, the men in uniform will go along with this thinking; and allow any civilian government to have friendly relations with India and Afghanistan.
The point I want to emphasis is that regional cooperation, trade and friendship is imperative if nations want to have peace, economic prosperity and welfare of the people in mind. The policy of confrontation, extremism, hatred and terrorism could only add to our problems; and could alienate us.
In conclusion, Mr Chairman,
I don’t have much time to explain the prevailing situation in Gilgit Baltistan. However, it will be pertinent to tell that no society can progress by keeping female population away from schools and colleges.
Diamer district of Gilgit Baltistan has population of over 100,000. A leading Pakistani English daily, Express Tribune reported that in the entire Diamer District only 4 girls go to middle school. 2

Daily Nation, a leading Pakistani English newspaper reported that dropout rate of female students in the Gilgit-Baltistan was 8%. The main reasons for this dropout was poverty, travel distance, mismanagement in schools, higher student teacher ratio, lack of security, and lack of basic facilities like toilets. 3


A recent educational report found that:

·         In Gilgit Baltistan, more than half of the children have no access to schools, and majority of them are girls.

·         Schools affected by the floods of 2010 and 2012 are still not repaired or reconstructed.

·         Furthermore, 70% of government schools are in a dangerous condition and lack basic facilities such as furniture, bathrooms, security walls, electricity or clean running water.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Sun Weidong on Saturday said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a mutually beneficial giant initiative for China and Pakistan, would immensely help latter to materialize its dream of becoming an ‘Asian Tiger’.
If Pakistan wants to become an ‘Asian Tiger’ that is for them to decide. However, I want Pakistan to become a democratic and a stable country which is at peace with itself and its neighbours. I want Pakistan to provide justice and equality to all citizens of Pakistan. I want Pakistan to provide fundamental human rights to all citizens of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir; and must not regard them as a conquered people.
I want to say that we want the development to take place, provided it does not:
1.    Change the nature of the Kashmir dispute;
2.    Affect the legal and constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan;
3.    Legal status of State Subject Ordinance;
In addition to the above I want assurance that:
4.    The CPEC will empower the local people in Gilgit Baltistan?
5.    The local people will be part of decision making at some level?
6.    They will be consulted on advantages and disadvantages of this mega project?
7.    The CPEC will economically benefit the local people?
8.    The project will advance their educational, professional and technical skills?
9.    A link would be provided that regions of Baltistan and Azad Kashmir should also benefit from this mega project.
All the above demands are fundamental to human development and part of the United Nations Charter and various Agreements and Covenants on human rights. Pakistan as a country is a signatory to these Agreements; and if they provide us all the above they will be only fulfilling their obligations.

    Article 8 on Right to Development reads and I quote:
1.     States should undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development and shall ensure, inter alia, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income.  Effective measures should be undertaken to ensure that women have an active role in the development process.  Appropriate economic and social reforms should be carried out with a view to eradicating all social injustices. Unquote.

Mr Chairman, I hope common sense prevails and pro people and pro peace policies would be made which will strengthen peace and stability; and the ordinary people would also benefit from fruits of the CPEC. I would not like people of Gilgit Baltistan only selling eggs and fixing tyres of those who would travel from China to Gawadar.
1.    India, Afghanistan and Iran sign deal for Transport Corridor, by NIHARIKA MANDHANA May 23, 2016, Wall Street Journal.
2.    Express Tribune, 25 May 2015
3.    Education Department report of Gilgit Baltistan 2011

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