China vowed to do all it can do to make sure the safe return of its two citizens kidnapped in Pakistan. Opposition members of the Parliamentary Committee on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) strongly protested the role of the committee. Pakistan has earmarked 180 billion rupees or $1.71 billion for the CPEC projects under the budget for financial year 2017-18. The third Chinese-built maritime patrol ship was inducted into Pakistan naval force for the security of the CPEC route. A high-level meeting of military leaders deliberated over, among other issues, the security of the CPEC. A report by the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) has warned the CPEC might “create geo-political tension with india”.
Recovering Abducted Chinese Nationals:
China vowed to do all it can do to make sure the safe return of two citizens kidnapped in Pakistan and promised new measures to protect Chinese nationals working on the CPEC projects in Pakistan.[i] Last week, gunmen pretending to be police officials kidnapped two Chinese language teachers in Quetta. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said that “China will continue to make maximal efforts alongside Pakistan to strive for the safe return of the kidnapped individuals as soon as possible.” He added that “[W]e will also take further actions to ensure the safety of Chinese individuals and organisations in Pakistan.” On the other hand, Pakistan under increasing pressure scrambled to form a three member-police investigation team to probe the kidnapping of Chinese nationals and their safe recovery.[ii] Although Pakistan has established a Special Security Division of 15,000 military personnel for the security of Chinese workers and nationals, the country’s unpredictable security milieu poses a serious challenge to the smooth functioning of the CPEC.
Role of the CPEC Committee Questioned:
Opposition members of the Parliamentary Committee on the CPEC strongly protested the role of the committee and termed it a ‘useless’ body.[iii] Members of the committee from Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Ghibli Faraz and Asad Umar, expressed their concerns that the views of opposition parties were not incorporated in the minutes of the meetings. Mr Faraz was reported to have said that “[F]acts are being concealed from the nation. The government has to tell the truth.” He said the committee had failed to follow its mandate and terms of reference under which it was supposed to monitor the CPEC projects, oversee contracts and ensure transparency. Opposition parties and analysts have long found fault with the secretive way of handling the CPEC deals by the incumbent government. When it comes to finalising the deals of the CPEC or sharing important information about them, the government dithers to take other political parties and groups on board. For example, the government has not yet shared officially the CPEC Master Plan with oublic. When daily Dawn shared an exclusive outlook of the plan, Federal Minster for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal termed it as an effort to “malign CPEC by promoting fears.”[iv]
CPEC funding and Projects:
Pakistan has earmarked 180 billion rupees or $1.71 billion for the CPEC projects under the budget for financial year 2017-18.[v] Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said “CPEC projects would enter into their third year of implementation during 2016-2018”. He added that Gwadar had assumed importance for the national economy where 31 different projects were under construction.[vi] On the other hand, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said the KP “government has signed an agreement with FWO for the construction of CPEC city on Motorway near Swabi” at the cost of $4.4 billion.[vii] Both the central and provincial governments seem bullish on the prospective gains of the CEPC projects. In their efforts to pocket more and more gains (in terms of claims for political gains) out of the CPEC pie, both the governments are less restrained by factor of economic feasibility of the projects.
Pakistan inducted the third Chinese-built maritime patrol ship into its naval force for the security of the CPEC route.[viii] A high-level meeting of military leaders deliberated over, among other issues, the security of the CPEC.[ix] A report by the UN’s body ESCAP has claimed that the CPEC might “create geo-political tension with india and ignite further political instability.”[x]
This report is compiled and written by Abdur Rehman Shah, Research Associate at the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Islamabad. He tweets @abdur_shah
[i] Reuters. (2017, May 25). China vows maximum effort to recover kidnapped citizens in Pakistan. Retrieved on May 28, 2017, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-china-idUSKBN18L1CI
[iii] Raza, Syed Irfan. (2017, May 26). Opposition terms parliamentary penal on CPEC ‘useless’. Retrieved on May 28, 2017, from https://www.dawn.com/news/1335491/opposition-terms-parliamentary-panel-on-cpec-useless
[iv] News Desk. (2017, May 15). Ahsan Iqbal slams Dawn’s CPEC ‘master plan’ article, calls it Dawn Leaks II. Retrieved on may 28, 2017, from https://tribune.com.pk/story/1410343/ahsan-iqbal-slams-cpec-master-plan-article-calls-dawn-leaks-ii/
[v] Xinhua. (2017, May 27). Pakistan allocated 180 billion rupees for CPEC in new budget. Retrieved on May 29, 2017, from http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/27/c_136320209.htm
[vi] Web Desk. (2017, May 26). Budget 2017: Rs180bn for CPEC projects, Gwadar. Retrieved on May 29, 2017, from https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/206794-Budget-2017-Rs180bn-for-CPEC-projects-Gwadar
[vii] The Nation. (2017, May 28). CPEC city among four projects worth $11bn in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Retrieved on May 29, 2017, from http://nation.com.pk/business/22-May-2017/cpec-city-among-four-projects-worth-11bn-in-kp
[ix] Web Desk. (2017, May 23). Military moot focuses on CPEC security, Fata reforms. Retrieved on May 29, 2017, from http://nation.com.pk/national/23-May-2017/military-moot-focuses-on-border-issues-fata-reforms
[x] Dawn. (2017, May 25). CPEC may create more India-Pakistan tension: UN report. Retrieved on May 25, 2017, from https://www.dawn.com/news/1335064/cpec-may-create-more-india-pakistan-tension-un-report