CPEC: the way forward-IV (Security issues and more)

Pakistan has to take a number of steps to transform the challenges mentioned in previous articles into opportunities. Regarding governance challenges, Pakistan should host forums where local, regional, provincial and federal stakeholders can discuss the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Currently, the provincial governments interact with the two sides (civil and military) of the Federal Government with reference to the National Action Plan (NAP). There is a need to conceive a comprehensive and meaningful legal and institutional framework. In this respect, local, provincial, regional and the federal governments should deliberate, negotiate and, ultimately, legislate, such an all-encompassing governance framework.

In addition, the provincial cabinets in tandem with apex committees are responsible for making security policies for areas like, for example, Karachi. However, there have been cases over the past four years, where a provincial government thought differently when it came to extending the powers and jurisdiction of the Rangers in Sindh. Such difference of opinions and clash of interests emanate from the embedded duality of governance mechanisms. With a legal and institutional framework in place in the provinces, regions and at the centre, not only could CPEC governance and security improve, but intra-provincial juridical and logistical matters as well as centre-province related administrative and fiscal issues can be resolved.

Moreover, to make CPEC an attractive specimen for economic growth, its financial dimension should not be overlooked. In this regard, the Pakistani and Chinese governments ought to work interactively to sort out currency substitution and fiscal issues; and provide adequate funds to small and medium-sized firms. However, such funds should be firm-friendly to attract further investment nationally and globally.

Concerning applied security, Pakistan has already taken due measures such as the establishment of Special Security Division (SSD) and Maritime Security Force (MSF) — both consisting of military personnel that number around 15,000. The SSD and MSF is a federal arrangement where the Ministry of Interior coordinates with the provincial. Importantly, the provincial governments such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have also raised Special Protection Units(SPUs) that comprise the police and number around 10,000; the SPUs are meant to safeguard CPEC projects, Chinese labour and machinery. Noticeably, due to the said security arrangements, there has not been, so far, any recorded incident of terrorism on CPEC infrastructure, including Chinese or Pakistani workforce and equipment.

The Pakistani and Chinese governments ought to work interactively to sort out currency substitution and fiscal issues; and provide adequate funds to small and medium-sized firms

Nevertheless, in order to improve CPEC security, especially that of the proposed Industrial Zones and Parks, Pakistan ought to counter terrorism at various levels. Strategically, for example, the country needs to interact with its neighbours meaningfully. China may, in this regard, play a role by encouraging regional cooperation. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) provides an effective platform in this respect. Moreover, the trilateral and quadrilateral Afghan peace processes are steps in the right direction. In addition, China-Iran-Pakistan trilateral engagement carries the potential to devise a collective response to anti-peace elements in Southwestern Asia. Importantly, China may also work with the United States to engage Pakistan, Afghanistan and India in a manner that reduces strategic uncertainty. Politically, Islamabad should try to negotiate with the locally active extremist and insurgent groups. Although sole reliance on military means may not produce the expected outcome.

Ideologically, there is a growing need to propose, at least socially, pluralistic narratives to neutralise the detrimental effects of religious extremism, social intolerance and terrorism. Already, around six hundred religious scholars, belonging to different religious sects in Pakistan, have issued a religious decree declaring suicide terrorism as contrary to Islamic principles. Here, the Pakistani state can play an important role by encouraging and supporting such pro-humanity voices.

Besides, China and Pakistan ought to play a leading role by reinforcing efforts for peace and stability locally, nationally and trans-regionally. The former should also stay aware of the precarious security situation Pakistan is passing through. The latter needs to revisit its policies, which might have provided an enabling environment to criminal and terrorist elements.

Last but not the least, for the sake of CPEC, Pakistan has to take some extraordinary measures. One the one hand, there is a need to devise a strategy to have local and provincial law enforcement apparatuses such as the police on board to enhance the policy and operational capacity of civil law enforcement and to improve the human intelligence at strategic locations along the Corridor. On the other, the local, provincial and federal governments should come up with a comprehensive governance framework under which the country’s law enforcement could work effectively. Ideally, institutions can perform optimally under a single but consolidated command structure.

In addition, for effective surveillance of industrial zones and Gwadar Port, the Chinese government can be helpful in terms of provision of sophisticated gadgets to increase infrastructural security of an enclave. For example, within the Gwadar enclave, the Chinese corporations may, after due consultation with Pakistani authorities, operate on its own in terms of oversighting consignments etc. However, handing over overall security of Gwadar and Special Economic Zones to Chinese corporations and/or security companies, both public and private, would arguably not be a sound idea and a feasible option given Pakistan’s bitter experiences with American security apparatus such as Blackwater.

Finally, the Chinese government in general and companies and their workforces in particular, ought to be mindful of popular perceptions of identity, self-respect and sovereignty. To avoid more untoward incidents such as the infamous scuffle between the police and Chinese workers in Khanewal (South Punjab), the Chinese government and the top leadership of various companies need to train its labour about Pakistani cultural norms, religious values, political system and administrative rules and regulations. If the suggested measures are taken into policy consideration, it will enhance CPEC governance and improve its security along with consolidating economic gains for not just China and Pakistan but also for the rest of the region.

SOURCE:https://dailytimes.com.pk/263172/cpec-the-way-forward-iv/

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