Posts

Pakistan keen to take CPEC projects forward expeditiously: Senator Sherry

Chairperson of the Senate Special Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor Senator Sherry Rehman, in a meeting with representatives of Bureau-I (South and Southeast Asian Affairs), International Department Central Committee of Chinese People’s Congress, observed that Pakistan is very keen to take the CPEC projects forward expeditiously and further enhance and improve upon the bilateral relations.

She said that the equilibrium in the bilateral relationship should never be disturbed and that the Chinese side should be facilitated as much as possible.

Representatives of the Bureau-I told Senator Sherry Rehman about the upcoming JCC meeting to be held in Islamabad in the second quarter of the next year. They said that the event will be attended by high profile dignitaries from the Chinese side and same from the Pakistani side will be welcomed.

Senator Sherry Rehman said that JCC is one of the most pivotal exercises conducted by the Chinese government as it leads to more discussions and agreements, propelling positive developments on CPEC among other mutual projects.

She also stressed upon the need for doing more homework by the Pakistani side at federal and provincial levels to make the most out of such interactions.

Senator Sherry Rehman observed that the Senate Special Committee on CPEC will be soon visiting Gwadar to oversee the ongoing progress and infrastructural development as well as to play its part in integrating the local population with the projects.

She said that Chinese initiatives aimed at more than just energy and infrastructure, adding that the welfare and inclusion of the local community were substantial developments. Matters pertaining to the economic and political situation, accountability, climate change as well as the ongoing smog crisis also came under focus. Both sides agreed to bolster cooperation in order to tackle these challenges.

Source: Daily Times

Dated on: 8/11/2019

Gains of China visit

  • Unanimity on CPEC, IOK and Afghanistan

The perennially ascendant strategic, economic, political and defence ties between China and Pakistan, which have withstood the vicissitudes of times, have attained eternity with both countries becoming partners in the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship component of the visionary Belt and Road Initiative. The interaction between the leaders of the two countries has invariably led to taking the relations to a still higher level setting futuristic directions in all the domains of their bonhomie. The recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China was no exception in that regard.

China expressed its willingness to expand the scope of CPEC. The joint statement at the end of the visit says “They underlined that Chinese investment in special economic zones and collaboration in small and medium enterprise sector would further expand Pakistan’s industrial base and diversify its export base. Both sides agreed to jointly study identified projects by the Pakistan side in power, petroleum, gas, agriculture, industrial and infrastructure sectors in the next meeting of the Joint Working Committee meeting to be held in Islamabad next month.”

The visit of the Prime Minister to China has been very successful in further strengthening relations between the two countries as well as in reiterating their unanimity of views on the regional issues.

The Prime Minister also had the opportunity of addressing the China Council for Promotion of International Trade. He invited Chinese companies to invest in diverse sectors of the Pakistan economy including housing, textile, manufacturing, IT, financial services, physical and technological logistics, agriculture, oil and gas and tourism and hospitality. He premised his invitation on the steps taken by his government to create a congenial atmosphere for foreign investment, including tackling corruption, ensuring ease of doing business, easing visa restrictions, highlighting that the labour cost in Pakistan was about 20 percent that of China, reiteration of the importance of geo-strategic location of Pakistan and the population of the country being young and vibrant which made it an attractive destination for investment.

Pakistan is now entering the second phase of CPEC and is looking forward to investments in the special economic zones and the projects related to socio-economic development with greater emphasis on alleviation of poverty. Before the Prime Minister embarked on a visit to China, the CPEC Authority was established to ensure speedy implementation of the envisaged projects as the programme would be directly dealt by the Prime Minister Office. The purpose of this step is to encourage the businesses to make big profits as the wealth creation would enable the government to lift people out of poverty on the pattern of China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping appreciated the government’s agenda for socio-economic development and people-centered progress. He underscored that China’s relationship with Pakistan was rock-solid and unbreakable and that strong vibrancy between the two countries would deepen and broaden in future. President Xi lauded Pakistan’s efforts to expeditiously execute CPEC projects and stressed that it would help the national and regional economic development process. These remarks were not only reassuring for future cooperation but also removed the doubts created by certain quarters about the slowing down of the CPEC projects.

According to the joint statement “Chinese leaders reiterated solidarity with Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, independence and security. Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to the One China Policy also reiterating that affairs of Hong Kong were China’s internal matter and all countries should uphold international law and basic norms of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.

Pakistan briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, including its concerns, position, and current urgent issues. The Chinese side responded that it is paying close attention to the current situation in IOK and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”

The joint statement indeed reflected the depth and strength of the bonds between the two countries. The reaffirmation of Chinese support for Pakistan’s stance on IOK before the visit of Chinese President to India was of great significance as it sent a loud and clear message to the latter that while China was engaged in improving relations with her it firmly stuck to its position on the situation in IOK, the status of the Kashmir dispute and how it could be resolved.

It is pertinent to mention that during the visit of the Chinese President to India and his meeting with the Indian President, both leaders mostly spoke on issues of trade, investment and on enhancing trade volume in order to bridge the trade deficit between the two countries. According to Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, apart from trade, the two leaders noted, “We are large countries and that radicalization is a matter of concern to both, and that both would work together to see that radicalization and terrorism do not affect the fabric of their multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies.” It is noteworthy that there was no mention of cross-border terrorism which India so fondly has been blaming on Pakistan in her aggressive posturing against it recently.

Pakistan COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also visited China along with the Prime Minister and was present in all the meeting that the latter had with the Chinese leaders which also signify the importance of the visit in the backdrop of the emerging security situation in the region. General Bajwa also met military leaders of China who endorsed Pakistan’s position in IOK and agreed to enhance existing defence cooperation between the two countries in line with the history of the mutually time-tested relationship.

The regional situation also engaged the attention of the two leaders. Both reaffirmed that there was no military solution to the Afghanistan problem, and that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote economic development and connectivity in the region. They expressed the resolve to continue to support the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The fact is that both China and Pakistan have been making relentless efforts on bilateral as well  as multilateral planks to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan and end the decades-old conflict in that country. Peace in Afghanistan is vital to regional connectivity and shared economic prosperity. Pakistan has been adversely affected by the volatile situation in Afghanistan and its collateral outfall in the form of terrorism. Other countries of the region, including China, Russia and Central Asian nations, have also been affected by it in varying degrees. So it is important for all of them to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

In the light of the above developments, it can be safely inferred that the visit of the Prime Minister to China has been very successful in further strengthening relations between the two countries as well as in reiterating their unanimity of views on the regional issues.

Source: Pakistan Today

Dated on: 16/10/2019

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

PM Imran to embark on third official visit to China today

Prime Minister Imran Khan will head to China on Monday for an official visit in order to discuss issues of regional and bilateral importance with the Chinese leadership, Radio Pakistan reported.

He will meet separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

According to the report, the premier will discuss expansion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and cooperation in the agriculture, industrial and socio-economic sectors.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran said that the removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion was the top priority of the government.

Amid a perceived slowdown on CPEC, the federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar on Sunday said Pakistan would engage China at the highest level for talks on several big projects in the fields of hydropower, oil refinery and steel mills.

During the premier’s visit, the two sides will discuss the “immediate implementation” of the second phase of the China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA). They will also discuss the abolition of the quota for all Pakistani agro products, Radio Pakistan added.

The prime minister is also expected to address the China Pakistan Business Forum in Beijing and to meet with Chinese entrepreneurs as well as the heads of different companies, Radio Pakistan reported.

This is the premier’s third visit to China in less than a year.

In April, he visited Beijing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum and for talks with the Chinese leadership on the expanded CPEC. His first official visit had come in November last year.

Source: Dawn

Dated on: 10/7/2019

China’s development serves as example for other Countries: President Alvi

China’s Development regarding its economic flourishing, great contributions to the shared prosperity of the world and fight against poverty in the past 70 years have become an example for Pakistan and other countries, Pakistani President Arif Alvi has said.

In a recent interview, the President said that socialism with Chinese characteristics, which integrates a market economy into socialism, has given play to the massive productivity of the nation to contribute to the country’s economic development and helped the country lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

“I have personally witnessed the changes in China,” he said, recalling that he has been to the country for “a number of times.”

“I’m greatly impressed by the environment there,” the President said, adding that the way China made its huge population a strength “is commendable.”

“So I think the world should learn from China. In fact, Pakistan is trying to learn from China how the fast progress does come around,” he said.

The President said that after seven decades of development, China has become one of the major trading hubs and manufacturers of the world, promoting the flow of goods through the Belt & Road Initiative.

Referring to the support China provides to other countries, the President said that China offers its development aid “with no political strings” attached, and praised China for its tremendous efforts to help countries in Africa and Latin America.

Talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that the corridor itself is not only a road, but also an economic corridor in which the first focus was to enable Pakistan to generate electricity.

“The second phase of the CPEC is also coming along,” said Alvi. “I believe the second phase is going to be people-centric to look at benefits for society. We are also looking at uplifting the people by giving employment and giving the benefits. So the CPEC is a very comprehensive project.”

“In fact, what we believe in and what we see is the way China came out of its own poverty and became a very good advanced developing nation in almost everything, whether it is space exploration, whether it is artificial intelligence, or software technology or digitisation of the economy,” the President said.

“China has made much more progress than anybody … So I believe we need to emulate the good things China did … So I think Pakistan can learn from China and the CPEC project,” he said.

On the friendship between the two countries, the President said that Pakistan is proud of the friendship with China as both countries share the same view on global issues, believe in the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and stand fast in defending their territorial integrity.

“The Pakistan-China friendship serves as a model for other countries,” said Alvi. “I hope and pray that Pakistan and China friendship will further strengthen.”

Source: Belt and Road News Network 

Dated on: 27/9/2019

,

Iran’s CPEC-Parallel Pipeline (E-CPEC+) Plans Could Ruin India’s Regional Vision

India’s zero-sum plans of using its reinvigorated strategic partnership with Russia to “balance” China in the region of “Greater South Asia” are at risk of being ruined if Iran goes through with its recently announced interest in building a CPEC-parallel LNG pipeline to China (E-CPEC+, with the “E” standing for “energy”) and receives Moscow’s world-class support in constructing this game-changing piece of integrational infrastructure. The Iranian Ambassador to India shocked his host nation by declaring that “Iran is now discussing an LNG pipeline to China along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as India is not expected to retain its prior interest in LNG imports from Iran”, according to The Hindu’s report about his comments made to members of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents on Monday. His words are especially significant for the fact that they represent his country’s first public recognition that India submitted to the US’ sanctions regime and also signify a bold endorsement of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of CPEC that India is adamantly against because of its maximalist claims in the Kashmir Conflict.

The Meek Shall Rise 

India already humiliatingly made a fool out of Iran on the world stage by complying with the US’ sanctions demands, victimizing its partner through blowback from the Hybrid War on CPEC, and entering into informal military alliances with its hated American and “Israeli” enemies, but the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and got Iran to stop behaving as India’s “junior partner” and finally become serious about changing its approach to it was likely the brutal use of force that was inflicted earlier this week upon the Kashmiris who were commemorating the matrydom of Imam Hussein. Publicly funded Iranian international media outlet Press TV extensively covered the wanton human rights abuses committed by the occupying Indian forces during this time and specifically pointed out to anyone who was unaware that Imam Hussein was also the third Shia Imam as well as the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, which is exceptionally important because the Islamic Republic of Iran is first and foremost an ideologically driven state constitutionally beholden per Article 154 to “support the struggles of the oppressed for their rights against the oppressors anywhere in the world.”

It is therefore absolutely unacceptable for Iran to not at the very least respond in an asymmetrical way while its co-confessionals are being visibly oppressed by occupying forces while attempting to commemorate the martyrdom of such an important Islamic figure, which explains why Tehran decided to cross the Rubicon and have its Ambassador to India publicly talk about its plans to construct E-CPEC+ despite knowing that his words would indelibly alter the dynamics of the Iranian-Indian Strategic Partnership. The Ambassador wisely referenced India’s decision to discontinue purchasing his country’s resources as the reason for his government exploring such a game-changing move, thereby ensuring that it can’t be interpreted as anything “hostile” or “anti-Indian” and indirectly laying the blame for any repercussions it could have on the regional balance of power solely at the feet of India’s political leadership. This is crucial to mention because the outcome could very realistically ruin India’s regional plans if the pipeline is ever constructed.

“Energy Diplomacy”

Not only would it naturally strengthen China and Pakistan’s joint regional position, but it might also do the same for Russia’s as well if Moscow decides to get involved in this promising project by bidding to construct it and then pairing its offshore gas reserves in Iran with the rest of the Islamic Republic’s available reserves in order to ensure that the pipeline is truly transformational in the geopolitical sense. Russia already signed a $10 billion memorandum of understanding with Pakistan last October to build an undersea pipeline connecting Iran and India via that nation’s territorial waters, but with New Delhi no longer buying Tehran’s resources, it makes sense for Moscow to modify the proposed project to end in the People’s Republic instead. While India might have thought that it bought Russia’s eternal geopolitical allegiance through the multibillion-dollar deals that were struck in exchange for its full support on Kashmir during Modi’s visit as the guest of honor at the recent Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, it could very well soon find out that there are limits to its influence.

Russia and India are indeed on the same page as regards their grand strategic interest in jointly leading a new Non-Aligned Movement (Neo-NAM), which was elaborated upon by the author in his latest piece about Moscow’s “New Detente” with the West and importantly given an indirect endorsement by the Valdai Club in its latest publication about “The Eurasian Chord and the Oceanic Ring: Russia and India as the Third Force in a New World Order“, in which Moscow’s top think tank toyed with rebranding this concept as the “Peaceful Development Movement”. That said, Russia is sincere in its desire to become the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia and isn’t hiding behind euphemisms to disguise any zero-sum ambitions like India is, so it’s entirely feasible that Moscow might seriously consider resuming the original “balancing” intentions of its “Return to South Asia” (prior to them having been offset by its partisan support of India on Kashmir).

Back To “Balancing”?

By doing so, not only would Russia prove its neutrality in the New Cold War, but it would also be advancing the “Golden Ring” geopolitical concept of strengthening ties between itself, Iran, Pakistan, and China, as well as preempting the possibility of becoming too strategically dependent on India (seeing as how its “Pivot to India” in Vladivostok was due in part to similar concerns vis-a-vis China). These interconnected outcomes would reassure Russia’s partners that its joint leadership of the Neo-NAM isn’t against any of them but is instead intended simply to maintain “balance” in the hemisphere. The resultant goodwill that Russia would receive from them, and especially the global pivot state of Pakistan, might even give it the edge over India in this nascent “balancing” structure that it’s jointly building with it and therefore enable Moscow to keep New Delhi’s pro-Western leanings towards the US’ so-called “Indo-Pacific” strategy of “containing” China in check.

In other words, although Russia’s leading participation in E-CPEC+ would be driven mostly by economic interests, it would nevertheless also have a strategic impact in maintaining the intra-Neo-NAM “balance” between itself and India, which would in turn allow it to avoid becoming the latter’s “junior partner” in this informal organization by providing it with the possibility of leveraging its future regional influence with other partners through this project’s successful completion in order to “re-balance” their relationship if the need ever arose. The very thought of this happening would hang over the head of Indian strategists like a Damocles’ sword in a way that’s impossible for India to ever reciprocally do to Russia even if it throws its full weight behind the US’ “Indo-Pacific” vision since that decision wouldn’t have any direct impact on Russia like its partner’s growing relations with the “Golden Ring” and the global pivot state of Pakistan would have on India.

Concluding Thoughts

The balance of power in the transregional space between West, Central, and South Asia was on the brink of being redefined had Trump not unexpectedly called off his country’s peace talks with the Taliban, but while the scenario predicted by the author in his recent analysis on the topic could still unfold if a deal is ultimately struck sometime in the future, it might have to be greatly modified to account for Iran’s abrupt change of approach towards India after its Ambassador there just announced his country’s interest in exploring the possibility of building E-CPEC+. The unforeseen timing of this development could change the grand strategic calculus at play by providing Russia with the much-needed opportunity to show the rest of Eurasia that it wasn’t “bought off” as India’s “junior partner” for “balancing” China through the jointly pursued Neo-NAM after the outcome of last week’s Eastern Economic Forum. Russia can put to rest any suspicions about its long-term intentions by actively participating in the construction of E-CPEC+ and strengthening its ties with each of the three other involved countries as a result, which could also enable it to keep India’s pro-Western leanings in check too.

Source: Eurasiafuture 

Dated on: 19/9/2019

,

China signals veto in standoff over UN Afghanistan mission

China and the United States are deadlocked over a United Nations Security Council resolution to extend the world body’s political mission in Afghanistan, with Beijing signalling it will cast a veto because there is no reference to its global Belt and Road infrastructure project, diplomats said on Monday.

A planned vote by the 15-member Security Council to renew the mission, known as UNAMA, was delayed from Monday to Tuesday to allow for further negotiations. The mission’s mandate expires on Tuesday. To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the US, France, China, Russia and Britain.

Ahead of the postponement, diplomats said China was expected to veto a resolution – drafted by Germany and Indonesia – that did not reference the Belt and Road project. China’s UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China was then planning to propose a vote on a short draft resolution, known as a technical rollover, to allow the mission to keep operating, diplomats said. But they added that it could fail to get the nine votes needed to pass because several council members were considering abstaining.

The UN mission, which was established in 2002, is helping Afghanistan prepare for September 28 elections and is pushing for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Talks between the US and the Taliban on a US military withdrawal fell apart earlier this month.

Election commission workers secure ballot boxes for Afghanistan’s forthcoming presidential election. The UN mission in the country is helping with the preparations [Rahmat Gul/AP Photo]

There are 14,000 US troops and thousands of others from NATO in the country, 18 years after a US-led coalition invaded following the September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks on the US.

The UNAMA mandate is renewed annually by the Security Council. The resolutions in 2016, 2017 and 2018 all included a reference welcoming and urging efforts like China’s Belt and Road initiative to facilitate trade and transit.

But when it came time to extend the mandate again in March, the US and other Western council members wanted the language removed, sparking a standoff with China. The council ended up adopting a six-month technical rollover to allow the mission to keep operating.

At the time, acting US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen slammed China for holding “the resolution hostage” by insisting “on making it about Chinese national political priorities rather than the people of Afghanistan.”

He criticised Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative – to link China by sea and land through an infrastructure network with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa – for “known problems with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and lack of transparency.”

At a Security Council meeting on Afghanistan last week, Cohen referred to the continuing impasse with China.

“We strongly believe this mandate is too important at this moment to have one Security Council member deny consensus for reasons having nothing to do with UNAMA,” Cohen said.

China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, did not specifically mention the negotiations on the UNAMA resolution, but said Beijing was working with Afghanistan to advance “the Belt and Road construction to actively support the Afghan rebuilding and its reintegration into the regional economic development.

Source: Aljazeera 

Dated on: 18/9/2019

, , ,

Iran’s interest in CPEC strengthens regional integration

Iranian Ambassador to India, Ali Chegeni, was reported by India’s The Hindu newspaper on September 10 as telling members of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents that “Iran is now discussing an Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline to China along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as India is not expected to retain its prior interest in LNG imports from Iran.” This remark hasn’t received the attention that it deserves, however, despite it being a visionary proposal for strengthening regional integration.

First things first, it’s important to explain the context in which it was made. Ambassador Chegeni was talking about the consequences of India’s decision to comply with the U.S. unilateral sanctions against his country’s energy industry, which he was understandably displeased with. Still, he remained very professional when addressing this issue, even saying that “We love the Indian people. But we cannot force somebody to love us. The government of India has to decide according to its national interest. Just as the Chinese have.”

It’s here where one can better understand why the diplomat decided to reveal the existence of hitherto unreported discussions between his country and China over the proposal to build an LNG pipeline to the latter via CPEC. China, unlike India, only complies with international law and not the dictates of any individual country like the U.S. whose demands run contrary to the aforesaid, which is rightly respected by Iran. Furthermore, there has previously been news about connecting the Iranian port of Chabahar with CPEC’s terminal one of Gwadar.

It therefore makes sense for Iran to consider how it could take ties with China to the next level by including an energy dimension into its plans to integrate with CPEC, which is the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), after India is no longer regarded as a reliable customer of its resources. A CPEC-parallel pipeline (E-CPEC+, with the “E” referring to “energy”) would be the natural outcome of the unfortunate situation that Iran has found itself forced into and thus help turn a regrettable situation into a positive one for all.

The South Pars gas field in the southern port of Assaluyeh, Iran, July 19, 2010. /VCG Photo

Strengthening regional integration is the embodiment of the win-win outlook on international relations, yet doing so in the manner proposed by the Iranian Ambassador to India might cause some concern among his hosts who remain opposed to CPEC because of their claims to the Kashmir conflict that have resulted in them holding the official position that the project transits through disputed territory that they consider to be their own.

Being aware of this backdrop, it’s more newsworthy that it was Ambassador Chegeni who revealed the existence these pipeline discussions and not any other Iranian official because it shows how seriously the country is considering this, but also that it cares about not offending India’s sensitivities too. That’s why it was Iran’s top representative to India who broke the news and explained why his country was pursuing that possible course of action, chiefly in response to India’s voluntary compliance with the U.S. sanctions regime.

In the event that the negotiations are a success and eventually lead to E-CPEC+ entering into activity sometime in the future, then it would represent a pragmatically reliable form of indefinite sanctions relief for Iran, the strengthening of regional integration processes, and ultimately an exemplary form of South-South cooperation between the three countries involved. In addition, these positive outcomes might convince India to moderate its uncompromising position against both CPEC and BRI and therefore accept that both of them are here to stay.

Even if it remains opposed to them, Iran nevertheless has the sovereign right to participate in any regional integration projects that it wants to, especially those such as E-CPEC+ which could ensure its long-term economic security amidst the U.S. ever-tightening sanctions pressure that already compelled India into discontinuing its import of its historic partner’s resources. It would be best for everyone if India supported Iran’s pipeline plans, but its lack of support wouldn’t have any influence on stopping this proposal in that case.

Editor’s note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Source: CGTN 

Dated on: 17/9/2019

Political stability, good governance key to CPEC success: experts

PESHAWAR: Human resource development, political stability and good governance can be the main components to make the multibillion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project sustainable and result-oriented.

This was the crux of the speeches delivered during the two-day international conference, which ended here on Thursday.

The University of Peshawar’s Area Study Centre and Chinese Embassy had jointly organised the event on ‘Belt and Road Initiative, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Trans-Regional Integration’, where ambassadors and diplomats from China, Russia, Central Asian Republics, Iran and Afghanistan were in attendance.

Seven scholars from abroad, including Russian Federation, and academicians and experts representing think tanks read out their papers in the two-day conference.

International moot on BRI, corridor initiatives ends

The experts highlighted challenges and prospects of the BRI and CPEC, brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping that would economically integrate more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Former chief secretary Shakeel Durrani told participants that the BRI-CPEC was our version of the Martial Plan, which was introduced in Europe after the World War-II.

He said the Martial Plan had transformed Europe after the war.

Mr Durrani proposed that the railway network occupy central place in the integration of the region. He supported the proposed construction of the Kabul-Peshawar Motorway.

The former chief secretary said the projects like CPEC could either rid the country of poverty or face failure.

He said on one hand, the projects like Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa failed to produce the desired results but on the other, the projects like Tarbela and Mangla dams continued to contribute to the national economy.

Mr Durrani said the CPEC had to be a self-sustained project, while the Pakistani government had to focus on human resource development, political stability and good governance.

He said one of the major reasons for the failure of Gadoon Amazai initiative was bad governance.

The former chief secretary also called for control of population growth. Afghan academician Abdul Baqi said his country would play a central role in regional connectivity due to its geographical location.

He said Afghanistan was in the centre of South Asia and Central Asia, so two major energy projects would pass through its territory.

Mr Baqi said the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan were major hurdles to the laying of railway line, which could link South Asia with Central Asia.

Expressing concern over the existing security situation in Afghanistan, he said who was behind the so-called Islamic State or Daesh militant outfits was a mystery.

He said regional countries could play a role in intra-Afghan dialogue to end decades long conflict.

In a paper, Kazakhstani researcher Dr Seyit Ali Avcu insisted that anti-Chinese sentiment and fear of over-indebting to China while misusing its own finances and re-education camps in Xinjiang that caused uproar could pose threat to the BRI.

He said since the economic and political relations between Russian and China had never been so good, not all Central Asian countries were part of Eurasian Economic Union.

The researcher said the Chinese influence on Central Asia was purely economic rather than political and that Eurasian Economic Union and BRI initiative would coexist and prosper side by side.

He added that the New Silk Road initiative of the US would have negative effect since the US was withdrawing from the region and was not committing enough funds to make the initiative sustainable.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2019

Dated on: 13/9/2019

,

Peshawar-Kabul motorway paves way for Afghanistan’s entry to CPEC

ISLAMABAD: In a major breakthrough, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have agreed to expand road connectivity as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) enters its second phase.

The agreement was made at the third round of the third Trilateral Dialogue between the three neighbours, where they agreed to the construction of the Peshawar-Kabul motorway.

Diplomatic sources told Pakistan Today that foreign ministers of the three countries discussed the future regional scenario as US forces plan their withdrawal from war-torn Afghanistan, observing that the Peshawar-Kabul motorway may provide the foundation for Afghanistan’s formal joining of the CPEC as Peshawar is already linked with the route.

“So when Kabul and Peshawar are linked through road, it would automatically connect Kabul to CPEC – the pilot project of a multi-continental connectivity project launched by China called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The formal announcement may be made at some later stage,” the source added.

“The construction of this motorway would not only link Afghanistan with Pakistan and China, it would also link landlocked Afghanistan with Pakistan’s strategic port of Gwadar which would alleviate Kabul’s trade issues,” the source further said.

“However, due to some diplomatic hitches, the three friendly neighbours have decided that the motorway would be named ‘China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Plus Cooperation’ (CAPPC). The initiative aims at jointly working towards promoting trade and connectivity projects between the three countries,” the sources stated, adding that a document was also signed at the moot.

It merits mention here that CPEC is being constructed in Pakistan under a mega investment initiative of around $62 billion by China. Out of the total portfolio, projects worth $20 billion have already been completed while the remaining projects are being executed.

BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in late 2013. Since then, around 165 countries and international organisations have joined the initiative while 86 countries, including Afghanistan, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China so far.

It is self-evident that the BRI mega project carries much significance for Afghanistan, which intends to regain its historical position as an “Asian transit and trade roundabout” connecting South Asia to Central Asia, and East Asia to West Asia.

Afghanistan also became a permanent member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2017.

“It seems that Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani has a change of heart on joining the CPEC. China had initially floated the idea to include Afghanistan into CPEC in 2017 but Dr Ghani was reluctant so he did not take up the offer,” the diplomatic source said.

The source revealed that the offer was again put forth in the second Trilateral Dialogue held in 2018 but Kabul regime did not respond. China had also hinted on the offer publicly when Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing in November 2018 had said that Kabul can also act as a bridge to help expand connectivity between east, south and central Asian regions.

“Under the BRI, China wants peaceful development of all its neighbours and would take all necessary measures to achieve peaceful development in Afghanistan,” the source quoted Yao.

Further, the Joint Declaration issued after the third Trilateral Dialogue in Islamabad again hinted on the development.

“The three sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their relations, exploring new ways of deepening cooperation, including advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) and other regional economic initiatives,” the declaation stated.

“The three sides welcomed the progress made on implementation of projects agreed under the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Practical Cooperation Dialogue (CAPPCD). They agreed to continue cooperation in the fields of economic development, capacity building, improving livelihood and people-to-people exchanges,” the declaration added.

Another important development includes the decision to jointly wage counter terrorism operations against terrorist forces present inside Afghanistan and bordering areas including Islamic State (Da’ish), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Source: Pakistan Today

Dated on: 08/9/2019

Author: Mian Abrar

,

Top Baloch tribal leaders vow to support, protect CPEC projects

BEIJING, China – In a major breakthrough, leaders of top Baloch tribes traditionally thought to be opposed to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have vowed to fully support the CPEC and promised to provide security to the Chinese nationals working in across Balochistan.

The leaders of different tribes of Balochistan also downplayed negative western propaganda vis-a-vis China’s investment made under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and vowed to support the initiatives of CPEC and Belt and Road.

The Pakistani delegation  is being led by the governor Balochistan including former Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, Central Joint Secretary of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) Bayazeed Kasi, Balochistan Minister for Sports and Culture Abdul Khaliq Hazara, Member of Provisional Assembly (MP) Sanaullah Baloch, eminent tribal leaders Abdul Kasi, Nasir Zaman Khan, Senator Muhammad Daud, Mir Liaqat Ali, Mir Mehroze Marri, Mohammad Humayun Barakzai, Faisal Hayat Khan, Chairperson of Balochistan Institute of Research and Development (BIRD) Ms Javeria Tareen and political leaders, businessmen, and think tanks. The delegation has visited Urumqi, Kashgar, and Beijing during their stay here.

It merits mention that western media has been projecting Balochistan’s nationalist tribes and groups including Marri, Bugti and National Party led by Dr Abdul Malik Baloch as  critics of the CPEC. Their support to CPEC is a major development.

Governor of Balochistan, Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, along with other representatives of local tribes also inaugurated the Silk Road Community Building on Friday here in Xinjiang, China. The Silk Road Community Building Initiative was launched at a thematic forum of people-to-people connectivity of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on April 25.

The delegation called on Mr Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, during his meeting with the delegation, said that the people to people connectivity was themed as “Working together for better lives: people-to-people connectivity and cooperation”.

“The thematic forum is aimed at building consensus and reviving the Silk Road spirit to create a brighter tomorrow. Since the First Belt and Road Forum held in 2017, there have been extensive and meaningful exchanges and cooperation between China and other Belt and Road partner countries involving people from all walks of life,” he added.

“People-to-people connectivity is the important content of the BRI, and it is also the spirit, base and goal of the BRI,” Song said, calling for working together for cultural win-win cooperation, openness, inclusiveness and innovation and for more cooperation, not only between governments, but also social organizations.

DiploMag had a special sitting with the delegation here in Beijing. Balochistan Governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai said the Silk Road community building initiative between Balochistan, Pakistan and Xinjiang, China will help boost the CPEC.

“CPEC enters in second phase which is based on social development, capacity building and welfare projects. Balochistan and Xinjiang are sister provinces as both fall in geo-strategic and ethnic location,” he said.

He said Gawadar is a China’s billion-dollar gateway to subcontinent. “We need to learn from Chinese development model of Xinjiang to speed up development in Balochistan. We also need China’s cooperation in education, agriculture and women development sectors,” he added.

He stressed for the need to start exchange programs for Balochistan tribe leaders and political leaders to learn from Chinese models.

“There is a need to promote university-to-university cooperation between the two countries as it would help build a knowledge-based society in Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan and the establishment of vocational training institutes in Quetta and Gwadar which would help impart modern skills and training on the local youth,” he mentioned.

Bayazeed Kasi said that PTI government was pursuing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of boosting mutual cooperation in fields of agriculture, education and health between the two all weather friends.

“We are learning from China how to alleviate poverty as China has pulled 800 million people out of poverty. This poverty alleviation model would largely help Pakistan build a community of shared destiny working closely with the vision of Chinese visionary President Xi Jinping,” he added.

Bayazeed Kasi said CPEC has emerged as an opportunity for the people of Balochistan who have faced terrorism and negligence. He said our prestigious arm forces have overcome all security issues and crushed almost all terrorist. He said the CPEC has opened for world to investment in Pakistan.

“We need scholarships for Balochistan students and to construct vocational training institutes for youth,” he added.

Mir Mehroze Marri said he was happy to observe the development model of China. “We are looking for such projects in our Balochistan on poverty alleviation. We need technology transfer in hospitals and educational sectors. Balochistan is neglected in past but now CPEC has made our province very important. Gawadar is important for both our countries on mutual understanding. We should promote Pakistan and CPEC for better future of our generation,” he asserted.

Member of PEMRA Mohammad Humayun Barakzai said Pakistan and China need to promote people to people connectivity to help remove misunderstandings.

“China is the only our sincere friend Pakistan has today and we will counter all propaganda against the CPEC. We need to construct new railway lines in Balochistan to promote local industries export products to world. We need cooperation in media sector to ensure encounter of all negative propaganda of western media against CPEC,” he added.

Mir Liaqat Marri stressed the need for promotion of people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and China. “We will support CPEC projects with our lives, with our tribes,” he said, adding that the fruits of CPEC should also trickle down to the ignored people of Balochistan as well.

Senator Daud Khan said that the delegates had visited three cities of China and learnt from Chinese development model.

“We need Xinjiang development model to develop Balochistan. We ensure full proof security for all Chinese companies. Our all political and tribal leaders of Balochistan supporting CPEC,” he added.

Faisa Hayat was of the view that the Pakistan and China need to develop closer institutional collaboration so as the two friendly states  could build closer cooperation irrespective of the change in leadership at various levels. He said the military-to-military ties between the two countries were exceptional and there was a need to also promote people-to-people contacts.

Javeria Tareen stressed the need for establishment of more skill building and vocational training centers in Balochistan to train local youth and create opportunities for them. “We need to focus on women’s development projects and give more opportunities under people to people exchange programs,” she concluded.

Source: Diplomag

Dated on: 11/9/2019