Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Hidden agenda of CPEC, Dr Shabir Choudhry
What Baloch leaders say on the CPEC
Chinese presence in Pakistan and in parts of disputed Jammu and Kashmir under the control of Pakistan is a great cause of concern not only to the local people but also to those who are concerned about peace and stability of the region and future ambitions of China in this region.
The CPEC will end in Gwadar in Balochistan; but it is sad to note that people of Balochistan have very serious reservations about this project which, according to them, is designed to exploit natural resources of Balochistan. Balochistan National Party (BNP) Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal has claimed that Punjab is to reap CPEC benefits.
While speaking to around 16,000 people at the Shaheed Mir Asghar Khan Mengal football stadium, Sardar Akhtar Mengal who was once a Chief Minister of Balochistan he said:
“I have never opposed any development but again I would clarify that our objective and mission is wide and clear that any development which turns the Baloch people into a minority will be opposed with full strength. Gwadar is being developed for outsiders and people of the province will not be even allowed to enter the port city…I have talked about these apprehensions some 20 years ago that Gwadar is being developed not for the Baloch people but for Punjab.”
He further said, we will protect dignity and sanctity of the land at all costs; and that “Poverty, backwardness and low literacy will not be our fate. Our land is rich in natural resources and these resources will be utilised to improve the life of the common people here.” 1
Sardar Akhtar Mengal is a senior Pakistani politician; and he has served Pakistan as the Chief Minister of troubled province of Balochistan. What he says may not be liked by the army establishment and some politicians, but his sentiments are shared by the common people of Balochistan who have suffered since 1947.
Peace in Balochistan and in Gwadar is absolutely essential for the CPEC projects and for its smooth operations. Bitter fact, however, is that many people in Balochistan are up in arms against Pakistan and the CPEC, because they think it will exploit their resources and enable Pakistan to crush them with help of China.
Khan of Kalat Mir Suleman Dawood, is a son of Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan. After death of his father in 1979, Mir Suleman Dawood assumed the hereditary title of Khan of Kalat. Because of very strong differences with the government of Pakistan, especially after the Pakistan army murdered Sardar Akbar Bugti in 2006; he lives in Britain. However, his views are very much respected in Balochistan and some other places. In a recent statement, published on 27 May 2017, Khan of Kalat said:
‘The China-pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an existential threat to the Baloch nation and its people; and threatens India as well as American interests in the region’. He said the CPEC was a 'Chinese military project', and ‘the United States and the Indian government to support an independent Balochistan and called on Pakistan to stop the genocide of Balochs. He said only independent Balochistan can help remove the threat of war to India from its western border’. 2
Khan of Kalat claims that Balochistan was an independent State, and was occupied by force. “The Balochs will never stop pursuing the case of illegal occupation and human rights violations in Balochistan. The situation in Balochistan is deteriorating. Pakistan's rule over Balochistan has never been legitimate, it has no moral authority and now it has lost control over Balochistan. The Indian, American, Afghan, Arab states and others should realize that the future is Balochistan." 3
He claimed more than 25,000 Baloch people are missing, and more than million are forced to leave their homes. Mir Suleman said: ‘Mass graves have been found in Khuzdar Baluchistan and other places, there are other locations which we believe need to be investigated by the international institutions…The CPEC project is meant to fulfil the Chinese expansionist ambitions in the region’. 4
Concern of Some European MPS
Mr. Alberto Cirio Member of the European Parliament said that:
‘China has increased their military presence in Pakistan Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan under the pretext of ensuring safety to their workers. He also mentioned that the Chinese army has started to create divisions among the Shia and Sunnis in the region, which is causing a direct threat to the region and not only the locals. Mr. Cirio mentioned that the presence of the Chinese army in the region is a threat to the stability of the region and questioned by Pakistan allowed Chinese army when it always opposed the presence of the Western Allied Forced in the region. He also mentioned that there should be a mechanism setup to investigate the adverse effects of the presence of the Chinese army in the Pakistan Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan’. 5
Mr. Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice President European Parliament, in a Conference hosted in the European Parliament with the title of CHINA IN PAKISTAN: GROWING HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS said:
‘China is engaged in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan in construction ranging from dams, highways and ports. He spoke that it has come to notice that there is a lot of resentment among locals in the region of Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir over the negative environmental impact and the utter disregard for environmental safety norms by the Chinese infrastructure developers. Chinese construction projects literally trash the environment’. 6
Pakistan-China relations, is often referred as ‘higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the ocean and sweeter than the honey’. I agree countries need friends and allies to survive in this competitive world, but is this friendship between the people of both countries or is it between the ruling elite which wants to further enrich themselves.
It must be remembered that China is not investing so many billions because they are in love with people of Pakistan; and they want to eradicate poverty and hunger from Pakistan. Despite being the second largest economy, in China there is still a lot of poverty and hunger. Some areas are still underdeveloped and people live below the poverty line.
What a Pakistani thinker Lal Khan says
A Pakistani thinker and a writer, Lal Khan writes on situation of China and the Chinese designs:
‘In spite of the hue and cry of the bourgeois media about capitalist counter-revolution ‘lifting millions out of poverty’, the reality is far starker. According to World Bank statistics, 67.8% of the population (902 million) lives on less than $5 a day. China accounts for a record one-fifth (370) of all billionaires in the world, rising from 17.6 per cent in 2014, the China Rich List 2015, compiled by the US business magazine Forbes, said. “The legislature of the world’s last major communist country is almost certainly the wealthiest in the world, the top rich list names 83 dollar billionaires among Chinese communist party’s, National Peoples Congress. Meanwhile, in America there is not a single billionaire in the House of Representatives or the Senate,” reported the Financial Times. The Communist Party of China is neither communist nor a party but a dragon of the upstart elite that sucks the blood of the workers in China and across the world wherever they make their imperialist investments…Real unemployment is actually closer to 20 per cent despite false official figures. Some 274m rural migrant workers are almost entirely ignored by the job statistics. 7
China suffered an economic shock when in 2008, its GDP dropped to 9.6%. The previous year GDP was 14.2%. In 1914, the Chinese economy suffered its lowest economic growth since 1990. The Financial Times, London reported that out of thirty-one Provinces, thirty failed to achieve their growth targets. The one which achieved its economic growth target was Tibet, which is China’s smallest regional economy. This sounded alarm bells to the policy makers in Beijing and they decided to embark on mega economic projects to support their declining industry.
The Chinese agenda and plan will seriously hurt the Pakistani industry in so many ways. The Pakistani exports will decline and factories will close down. One can understand that the Chinese investment will create some jobs; but one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that when exports decline and factories close down that will also result in unemployment.
It must also be understood that the Chinese are not even investing for some utopian ideals. Their purpose is to accumulate wealth and advance China’s agenda on the back of Pakistan. Those who invest money don’t do it for charitable purposes. Interest of Pakistan is not on top of the Chinese agenda. In pursuance of excessive profits and its strategic hegemonic designs in the region, China will invest this colossal amount, and Pakistan, as a country, may get some trivial financial benefits.
However, Pakistan may benefit from Chinese military presence, in the sense that, China will help Pakistan to crush any opposition to Islamabad’s rule. Also, the Chinese presence can help Pakistan to protect Gwadar; and discourage India and other hostile countries from any military adventures.
Under guise of the CPEC, China will control strategically and commercially important Gwadar. It will present China with new commercial, business and military opportunities; and it will become a Chines navy post in future, which will help Beijing to increase its influence in the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. China will use natural resources of Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan to advance its idea of the New World Order.
China will also help to stabilise Afghanistan, as that and control of Gilgit Baltistan, Balochistan and presence of the Chinese military and secret agencies in various parts of Pakistan will help China to strike at the supply of Mujahidin to its restive Xinjiang province. China’s strategy is to negotiate and engage with the Taliban leadership and play a more proactive role in Afghanistan for these very economic and commercial interests. China’s main interest is to use or rent the Pakistan military machine for these hegemonic purposes.
The Pakistan writer, Lal Khan asserts:
‘To expect such a greedy ruling clique to alleviate poverty in Pakistan through investment is absurd to say the least. This “friendship” gimmickry is to mock and deceive the ordinary people. The Pakistani ruling class is no less mean and reactionary. Power is only traded and bought for more loot and plunder. Lenin wrote in his epic work, Imperialism the Highest stage of Capitalism, that “a capitalist country acquires an imperialist role when it begins to export capital.” China is the largest exporter of capital in the world. It is the biggest investor in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its evil designs on Baluchistan and Pakistan are the same as those of the American and other, world and regional imperialist states’. 8
Is hidden agenda not so much hidden now?
After Pakistani newspaper Dawn’s detailed report on the CPEC, based on which one can write a book, it becomes clear that the CPEC has a big hidden agenda. In view of many Pakistani and Indian writers it is more sinister than originally perceived. It will make Pakistan a testing ground for the Chinese products, especially when thousands of acres of fertile Pakistani land will be handed over to the Chinese for ‘demonstration projects’. What are these demonstrations projects? Are they going to test their fertilizers and other chemical products in agricultural fields of Pakistan?
The Dawn report notes: ‘For instance, thousands of acres of agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up “demonstration projects” in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24-hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibre optic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the “dissemination of Chinese culture…The plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises’. 9
According to the figures provided by the World Bank:
· The US economy is still the largest with 18 trillion;
· and China stands at number two with 11 trillion US dollars.
· The American share in the world economy is 24.3%;
· and the Chinese share is 14.8%.
However, according to the IMF report:
· the American economic growth for the year 2016, was only 1.6%;
· and that of China was 6.7 %.
Despite American slow down, it will take China a long time to catch up or compete with America because the gap of 7 trillion is too large.
In the World Economic Ranking:
· Japan is at number three with $4.4 trillion;
· Germany at number four with 3.3 trillion;
· Britain is the fifth largest economy with 2.9 trillion;
· France is number sixth with 2.4 trillion;
· India holds the seventh place with 2 trillion. 10
Pakistan, the fort of Islam, is the 43rd largest economy with 251.487. It is amazing to see that countries like UAE, Israel, Hong Kong, Iran, Singapore, Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, South Africa, Philippines, Colombia are ahead of Pakistan. 11
Is not intriguing that China plans to build huge “coastal tourism” industry, the kind of enjoyment we see in the West or in other Asian and African holiday resorts. Enjoyment resorts which will have everything the tourists are looking for – night life, hotels, restaurants, service industry, city parks, spas, beauty parlours, massage centres, water sports, cruises, music, dances, cultural shows etc. Three questions arise here:
1/ Is that in line with the Islamic ethos of Pakistan which claims that the country was established to advance cause of Islam?
2/ It is not too difficult to establish these facilities in any place, especially when a big loan is borrowed. However, question is, will these facilities be able to promote sufficient activities to generate income to pay off the expenses and pay the loan as well.
3/ Chinese and perhaps visitors from the Middle East will reach here without visas, will people of Pakistan get the same treatment when they visit China or the Middle Eastern countries. Above all what impact will all this interaction and service industry have on culture and society of Pakistan?
As I have stated many times, all those who have opposed the CPEC faced sedition and terrorism related charges; and this experience has been very successful, because it has silenced most of the writers, political workers, human rights defenders and social media activists. It looks they will spend most of their lives in jails and benefit from the CPEC.
It is claimed that once the CPEC is fully functional, it will have more than 7,000 containers travelling every day on the roads, which will be built by borrowing money on high interest rates. Pakistan, as a nation, have a great experience in getting big loans; and then borrow more money to pay off the instalments of the original loan.
It is still not clear if these big containers will pay any toll for using these roads and transporting Chinese goods, but one thing is clear that to build these wide and long roads Pakistan had to cut more than 50,000 trees. These 7,000 containers and cutting of more than 50,00 trees will surely have some impact on the environment.
China will stop generating electricity by coal; and because they love Pakistan so much that they will transfer all their equipment to bolster friendship which is already higher than Himalayas and deeper than sea and sweeter than honey. Pakistan will reciprocate its friendship by buying coal generated energy from them, and face the environmental problems.
Mountains of Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan are full of natural resources; and Chinese are also aware of that. The CPEC projects will provide an opportunity to Chinese to explore and extract these resources. Pakistanis will not mind this, after all China is a friend; and good friends always help each other. In any case, Pakistanis have a little interest in taking any benefit from these resources. Why take trouble of extracting these natural resources when it is so easy to borrow money from different countries and international financial institutions.
China has also ensured that the local people of Gwadar will get some employment opportunities. When there will be tourist resorts established in Balochistan and in Sindh, that will attract foreign tourists, especially from the Middle East and China. Presence of tens of thousands of Arab and Chinese tourists will require local people to provide service to these people. It will also produce plenty of garbage, plastic and glass bottles, paper and plastic bags etc. This will employ Pakistani kids to collect them and earn their living. Also, they will provide different kinds of services to tourists; and that will bring in some money; and sadly, for money, the Pakistani elite can even sell their own people, and interests of Pakistan.
"This is my land of Gilgit-Baltistan -- not that of Pakistan or China"
Despite presence of security people of both countries, a local man, Ali Qurban while expressing his patriotism and concern about Islamabad’s subservient attitude towards Beijing bravely said:
"This is my land of Gilgit-Baltistan -- not that of Pakistan or China." He feared that complicity of Islamabad and Beijing will result in the local people losing their rights and resources.
Ali Qurban further said: ‘The government and the military have "paralysed the people here, adding they are suppressed "as Uighurs are suppressed by the Chinese government in Xinjiang. Beijing is closely monitoring Muslim Uighurs, saying that extremists from the minority are in hiding in Pakistan — a claim that has been supported by local security sources. The decision-makers will decide for themselves what the benefit of the economic corridor is". 12
Sost is a small town, which is a gateway of the CPEC, and links China with Pakistan via our territory of Gilgit Baltistan. Even without the CPEC, Pakistan earns millions of dollars in custom duties and trade, but the local people get nothing. The border town and the gateway is controlled by secret agents of both countries, what they say or do matters; and local people dare not say or do anything to warrant their wrath.
One local man said, ‘SOST - a glossy highway and hundreds of lorries transporting Chinese workers by the thousands: the new Silk Road is under construction in northern Pakistan, but locals living on the border are yet to be convinced they will receive more from it than dust’. 13
Another local man, Noor – e Din expressed his bitterness by saying that "The Chinese care only for their own economic interest”, and “We risk spending our days counting trucks as they drive past." 14
The sense of alienation in Gilgit Baltistan is increasing as more and more information about the CPEC is made public. They feel there is nothing there for them; ‘shadowy political and security factors also contribute to the sense of alienation in Gilgit: such as Beijing and Islamabad's apparent efforts to clamp down on the restive regions that surround the corridor. In Gilgit-Baltistan, the most famous local militant nationalist, Baba Jan, has been imprisoned for "terrorism" since 2011 for organising an anti-government demonstration’. 15
Because of the growing attacks on the CPEC related projects and on the employees, both China and Pakistan have put in place a very comprehensive security system. Of course, the Chinese nationals are more important compared to the local labour; so, the Chinese will get special attention and VIP security. In this regard, Beijing does not fully trust the Pakistani security personnel and they have appointed their own army and security to protect their nationals.
A special army division consisting of 32,000 security personnel will provide security to over 14,321 Chinese workers, who will be working on 210 projects. Originally a three-layer security plan was planned, but increasing activities of rebels have forced Islamabad and Beijing to upgrade to security system with four – layer security to protect the CPEC route.
The CPEC Project Director, retired Major General, Zahir Shah asserted that ‘the Chinese are pretty much satisfied with the new security plan. 16
According to the new plan Balochistan will receive more attention, said an official of the Ministry of Interior; and six wings consisting of 5,700 personnel of the Frontier Corps, 3,000 police, and 1,000 Levies personnel will be responsible for security the CEPC related projects and routes in Balochistan. Apart from that, the Gwadar port and adjoining routes will be protected by Pakistan Marines and border security forces. Additionally, more than 3,500 policemen, 900 Rangers and 4,100 private security guards and 740 Askari Guards will help to protect the CPEC. 17
What people say about the CPEC?
After seeing the Dawn report on the CPEC many people commented on this. I have selected some comments for the readers and hope that they will see different dimensions of the problems.
A Pakistani reader, SYED ANJUM ALI wrote:
As far as I can judge, the CPEC master scheme holds very dubious promises- in terms of land/agricultural use, what lands will be leased out to the Chinese and at whose cost? I don't see Pakistani farmers flourishing, in fact Pakistan will be colonialized by Chinese who will come in and set up their own farms on Pakistani soil, using GE and other possibly harmful inputs. This whole scheme seems to be a huge environmental-ecological disaster in the making, especially in the North (forests and hills) and South (marine and riverine systems). Further, a number of the schemes seem unsustainable in economic terms, especially in debt servicing. And, another question that comes to mind, if this is indeed an 'equal' business venture then why will only Chinese get visa free entry to Pakistan? Will Pakistanis get similar privileges for entry to all areas of China? Please, Pakistan must be very careful in entering any such deal.
Another Pakistani, AFZAL NADIR, wrote:
it is a matter of concern that Pak Government is still unable to tell the people of Pakistan about terms and conditions of Chinese Investments, rate of return offered to the Chinese investors, nature and tenure of agreements, estimated benefits to Pakistan economy and many other questions which arise in the minds of general educated Pakistanis. Being a professional accountant and economist, I am still in dark side about all these projects. The interest rate which is offered to Chinese investor as I came to know is just enormous and scarring one. It is more than a rate on soft loans from WB, IMF and ADB. our financial managers and decision makers must keep in mind that if Pakistan is not benefited from these projects then their success will be a big question.
When Chinese companies are guaranteed profits and given tax exemptions, have exclusive rights to set up industries on Pakistani soil, Chinese nationals are allowed to enter the country without visa, given thousands of acres of agricultural land to meddle with Pakistani agriculture, Pakistani highways and railways are mortgaged to them, Gwadar port handed over on a silver platter including the responsibility to 'protect' sea lanes, what is left for the Pakistan? The plight of Pakistani workers would be worse, because they have not been guaranteed employment in projects run by the Chinese through Chinese companies. Pakistani government would perhaps simply watch, provide protection to Chinese companies and workers, and prepare to pay the unsustainable loans, or end up handing over land and ports and highways to Chinese control. The rulers may have their hidden agenda but this may be the first example in history of a state voluntarily handing control of its economy to a foreign power!
TRUTH V2 wrote:
So, Pakistan borrowing $50 billion from China. Construction awarded to Chinese companies. They employ Chinese workers in land leased from Pakistan farmers. All the final products are sold back to Pakistan. Money earned by Chinese companies goes back to China. Interest and principal amount borrowed to be returned to Chinese (not sure how the government is going to return the money without making any).
Thank you CPEC, thank you China - Good luck Pakistan!!
Now we understand why India does not want to be part of plan… as it doesn't want to be reoccupied. Simple!!
SYED F. HUSSAINI
This is China's plan for Pakistan. Where is Pakistan's plan for Pakistan?
ALI wrote: Hope this is not another East India Company.
This is nothing but scary. China has all plans to take over agriculture and textile sectors of Pakistan. They have all plans to flood Pakistan with not only their goods but their culture as well.
I read full report. Everywhere it is mentioned that China will build factories, roads, lie down fibre optics, will start own agriculture, etc. I just couldn't find what would be Pakistan doing? Is Pak doing anything else other than just leasing land (even 1000s of acres of agriculture land). CPEC Mubarak.
(Reference for all the comments, see 18 below).
According to 2017 Budget:
· Pakistan has to pay 1366 billion Rupees per annum interest, excluding the actual amount, on the existing loans.
· It must be noted that the country’s development budget is only 1000 billion Rupees.
· Pakistan’s imports have increased to 46 billion US dollars;
· and exports have decreased from 24 billion to 20 billion.
To make matters worse, remittances from Azad Kashmiri and Pakistani Diaspora has also declined considerably. Furthermore, tens of thousands of expatriates are being sent home from various Middle Eastern countries, which will reduce the income and will create social and political problems. On top of that when the CPEC loans and its interest is also included then lion’s share of the budget will go on paying interest of the loans.
In view of the above, question is, for how long Pakistani government will fool people; and for how long the country can survive like this?
Will Pakistan be able to pay back the loans with high interests? What will happen if Pakistan is unable to pay back?
Despite lofty claims of consensus among provinces, there are strong reservations among certain sections of the community. Alam Mehsud, head of Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehrik said:
“We have not won our share in CPEC as claimed by the chief minister. We will not accept the ‘Punjabi corridor’ or the decisions made by the Chief Minister along with the Chinese government in Beijing.” 19
There are serious reports of law and order situation in KPK and in Balochistan; and that will threaten the CPEC related projects and transport. Senator Afrasiab Khatak says Pakistan has, once again, used jet fighters to kill and destroy terrorist infrastructure in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency. The local media has reported many incidents where militants attacked security forces and members of peace committees in various parts of FATA with many casualties. In his article published in a Pakistani English Daily the Nation, he writes:
‘Taliban belonging to Mulla Nazir group (good Taliban allied with Haqqani network) picked up Azizullah Wazir, local leader of ANP, from Wana bazaar. The group is reportedly functioning like local administration with the blessings of civil and military authorities’. 20
Pakistani claims of eradicating terrorism and terrorist groups can be judged by this fact that ‘Senator Saleh Shah of JUI-F revealed in the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on 22 May (2017) that different TTP factions have been allowed by authorities to open offices in Bannu, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, the three southern districts adjacent to Waziristan… Basically, military operations in FATA had no civilian oversight. The area still remains a black hole and a no-go area for national and international media (except of course the journalists embedded with the army). So, there isn’t any independent source to monitor the claims of the ISPR’. 21
Much publicised military actions against terrorist groups, including Zarb e Azb and Radul Fassad seem to be ineffective or were carried out half-heartedly, because different groups of Taliban are returning to FATA. If they were to be allowed to return to FATA, then what was the purpose of the military operations and death and destruction? Senator Asrasiab Khatak writes:
‘As long as the country’s security establishment is supporting Taliban’s war against the Afghan state it needs FATA as a base camp for this war and the reforms promises can wait. The second challenge comes from the formidable black economy of the area. It includes the huge drug trade, human trafficking, gun running, commodities smuggling across the border and unaudited funds of the political agents. Huge amounts of money change hands every 24 hours. After reaching the upper echelons of the ruling elites it turns into anaesthesia as far as the implementation of reforms is concerned. 22
World renowned Moody’s Investors Service, in its report published on 8 May 2017, has predicted that Pakistan’s external debt will grow to $79 billion by June this year, higher than initial estimates suggested, and the country’s weak fiscal strength will weigh in on its ability to afford the ever- growing debt burden. 23
With growing loans, with increasing imports and declining exports, with declining remittances from the Kashmiri and Pakistani Diaspora, and with increasing dissent and law and order situation, can Pakistan seriously manage the CPEC projects and issues related to the CPEC and its security?
5. Statement of a Conference jointly arranged by International Human Rights Defenders and Members of the European Parliament on 25th Nov 2015, Strasbourg. Title: CHINA IN PAKISTAN: GROWING HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The conference was attended by more than 120 participants from European Parliament, Civil Society and European Union. firstname.lastname@example.org