China has said that it would like to adhere to Panchsheel (five principles) of coexistence in order to address the Indian concerns regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo has warned against a new kind of security threat to the CEPC. The government has shared information about various projects of the CPEC.
China Evokes Panchsheel on Kashmir:
China has said that it would like to adhere to Panchsheel (five principles) of coexistence in order to address the Indian concerns about the CPEC. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media “we would like to follow the five principles of coexistence in developing friendly relations with other countries.”[i] Panchsheel Treaty was an agreement signed between India and China in 1954 to promote relations on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. She went on to say “[A]s per the concern over Kashmir region as we said before, it is an issue between India and Pakistan. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will not change China’s position on the Kashmir issue. Belt and Road Initiative is open and inclusive one.” China has stepped up its efforts to persuade India to join the multi-billion dollars BRI launched by President Xi Jinping. Beijing has shown considerable flexibility in separating bilateral issues with India from BRI-related efforts. But the Indian government of Prime Narendra Modi has proven more resilient and aggressive against all Chinese inducements.
Security Threats to CPEC:
Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo drew attention to a new kind of security threat to the CEPC. While condemning the May 13 killings of 13 Sindhi labourers in Gwadar he said that those militants “who are getting free in Syria” may pose threat to the CPEC.[ii] He expressed his concern that such subversive forces might move to Pakistan and consequently raise problems with regard to CPEC. The ministers’ apprehensions are not unfounded as Pakistan has been a victim of different foreign extremist elements and their violent activities. Pakistan blames India as well as Afghanistan to be behind these kind of forces. After a long interval of normalcy, Baluchistan has recently seen a new wave of violence in which more than three dozens of people have been killed. Just on Friday suspected militants gunned down three workers on a CPEC highway linking the port-city of Gwadar to provincial capital of Quetta.[iii] These incessant terror attacks show how much Pakistan’s security milieu is vulnerable to attacks from hidden threats.
The government has informed the National Assembly that road projects under the CPEC are expected to be completed during the next two years.[iv] The government also revealed to shelve three CPEC power projects worth $2227 million. The project are: China Sunec 50MW worth $125million, 300MW Salt Range coal-based power project, including mining priced at $800 million and 900MW Zonegry Solar Project, Bahawalpur 1,302MW.[v] It is reported that the government has earmarked Rs44 billion or a quarter of CPEC funding for the construction of the western route.[vi] Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that Rs180 billion was set aside for CEPC projects for the new financial year. On the other hand, Senate Standing Committee on Communications was told that work on only one project i.e. Multan-Sukkur motorway was being carried out under the CPEC.[vii] Senator Daud Achakzai who headed the meeting of the committee lamented that the government was not transparent and shared fewer details about the CPEC projects. The questions of transparency has proven to be one of the biggest limitations of the CPEC deals. A closed circle of the government not only calls all the major shots in finalising the CPEC deals with China but also makes sure no information is leaked to other public institutions and even masses. Such an approach can be indicator of the fact Pakistan has got limited leverage vis-a-vis China in discussing the terms and conditions of fundings provided under the CPEC.
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] PTI. (2017, May 18). China evokes Panhsheel to address Indian’s concerns over CPEC. Retrieved on May 19, 2017, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/china-evokes-panchsheel-to-address-indias-concerns-over-cpec/articleshow/58737114.cms
[ii] Khan, Mohammad Hussain. (2017, May 19) Bizenjo fears militants leaving Syria may pose threat to CPEC. Retrieved on May 19, 2017, form http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailImage.php?StoryImage=19_05_2017_119_005
[iii] Yusufzai, Gul. (2017, May 19). Suspected militants gun down three workers on China ‘Silk Road’ project. Retrieved on May 20, 2017, from http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-pakistan-militants-idUKKCN18F1EP
[iv] Web Desk. (2017, May 17). Road projects under CPEC to be completed in two years, NA told. Retrieved on May 22, 2017, from https://arynews.tv/en/road-projects-cpec-completed-two-year-na-told/
[v] Khan, Atif. (2017, May 18). Govt to shelve three CPEC power projects, NA told. Retrieved on May 22, 2017, from http://nation.com.pk/national/18-May-2017/govt-to-shelve-three-cpec-power-projects-na-told
[vi] Rana, Shahbaz. (2017, May 21). Govt sets aside Rs44 bn for CPEC’s western route. Retrieved on May 21, 2017, from https://tribune.com.pk/story/1415176/govt-sets-aside-rs44bn-cpecs-western-route/
[vii] The News International. (2017, May 20). Only Multan-Sukkur motorway being built under CPEC, Senate body told. Retrieved on May 22, 2017, from https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/205560-Only-Multan-Sukkur-motorway-being-built-under-CPEC-Senate-body-told