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PM Imran assures China of CPEC projects’ speedy execution

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday Pakistan was committed to timely completion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and hoped that more Chinese companies would make investments in the country.

During his meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the prime minister highlighted the importance of the proposed CPEC authority for speedy execution of the projects.

Mr. Khan also briefed the Chinese FM on the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) and both agreed on more high-level exchanges between Pakistan and China to further promote bilateral ties and shared goals.

During his two-day official visit, the Chinese FM also held meetings with President Dr Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. During the meetings bilateral, regional and international issues were discussed and both sides agreed to jointly promote regional peace, stability and prosperity.

The prime minister hoped that as the CPEC’s benefits expanded, more Chinese companies would invest in Pakistan and help support Pakistan’s process of industrialisation and its policies of greater agricultural productivity and innovation.

He highlighted that CPEC was a project of great national significance that contributed immensely to the revitalisation of Pakistan’s economy.

Visiting foreign minister reaffirms support on Kashmir issue

Mr Khan underscored that friendship with China was cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He briefed the Chinese side on the evolving situation in IoK following India’s Aug 5 unilateral and illegal action to strip the region of autonomy.

He stressed that the ongoing curfew for 35 days and continued lockdown and communications blockade coupled with massive human rights violations had created a dire humanitarian situation in IoK which needed to be urgently addressed.

Prime Minister Khan said that the curfew and other restrictions needed to be immediately lifted.

To deepen strategic cooperation, Pakistan and China should continue their close coordination and consultation to ensure that peace and stability in the region was maintained, he said.

Wang Yi said that Pakistan-China relationship was based on mutual respect, trust and strong bonds of friendship. He appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to achieve goals of national development under Prime Minister Khan’s leadership and extended China’s utmost support in this regard.

He noted that with the policies of the government, Pakistan’s economic and financial condition was improving.

Wang Yi emphasized that the CPEC, which was being jointly implemented by Pakistan and China, was a demonstration project of high-quality Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.

The Chinese foreign minister conveyed best wishes of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to Mr Khan and said the China-Pakistan relationship was rock-solid and unbreakable.

Wang Yi reaffirmed China’s support and reiterated opposition to any Indian unilateral action (regarding held Kashmir) as well as the measures by Delhi that could further complicate the situation.

Both leaders agreed that more high-level exchanges should continue to take place between Pakistan and China to further promote bilateral ties and shared goals of economic development, peace, and security across the region.

Joint statement

Earlier, the Foreign Office issued a joint statement at the conclusion of the two-day official visit of the Chinese foreign minister.

According to the statement, Wang Yi also called on President Dr Arif Alvi and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and met Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

During the meetings, both sides had an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Both sides reiterated that the time-tested all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between China and Pakistan remained unaffected by any adverse regional and international development and continued to move from strength to strength.

Both sides reaffirmed that China-Pakistan relationship was a priority in their foreign policies, and committed to building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

Both sides agreed to maintain frequent mutual visits and meetings at the leadership level and continue to hold bilateral meetings between their leaders on multilateral occasions.

They noted that China and Pakistan had enjoyed mutual understanding and support on issues concerning each other’s core interests. They reiterated the resolve to implement the consensus reached by the leadership of both countries to enhance strategic mutual trust and improve all-round cooperation to jointly promote regional peace, stability, and prosperity.

The Chinese side reaffirmed its support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and national dignity, in choosing its development path in light of its national conditions, in working for a better external security environment, and in playing a more constructive role in regional and international issues.

Both sides believed that the CPEC, as a pioneering project of the BRI, had entered a new phase of high-quality development. They agreed to continue to firmly push forward the construction of CPEC, complete its ongoing projects in a timely manner, and realize its full potential by focusing on socio-economic development, job creation, and better livelihood and accelerating cooperation in industrial parks and agriculture.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the close cooperation between the two countries at multilateral fora and resolved to deepen strategic coordination and consultation. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and support for multilateralism, free trade, and win-win cooperation. Both sides agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation on regional and international affairs.

Both sides underlined that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in common interest of all parties and agreed that parties needed to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and equality.

Both sides also exchanged views on the situation in India-held Kashmir.

The Pakistani side briefed the Chinese side on the situation, including its concerns, position and urgent humanitarian issues.

The Chinese side responded that it was paying close attention to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated that the Kashmir issue was 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.

Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Afghan issue and support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. Both sides welcomed the positive progress achieved in the negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and the US, and called on all Afghan political stakeholders, including the Taliban, to start intra-Afghan negotiations to form a future political structure acceptable to all parties so that peace and stability might be achieved in Afghanistan at an early date.

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CPEC: The new world economic order

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with its flagship project the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has received enormous attention globally. Through BRI, worth over one trillion dollars, Beijing aims to increase China’s connectivity with countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and even the Pacific. CPEC is one of the first BRI projects through an investment of $63 billion in infrastructural and other projects across Pakistan. The Gwadar Port is CPEC’s centrepiece. As some countries, such as the United States and India, have apprehensions on the BRI/CPEC, there is no shortage of false or propaganda-driven information about these projects. With the aim of providing factual information on CPEC, the book CPEC: A Precursor to Regional Economic Growth and Stability, edited by Professor Zafar Iqbal Cheema, is a step in the right direction.

Comprising of a dozen chapters, this edited volume provides timely analyses of a range of geo-economic and geopolitical issues in the context of CPEC. Various chapters of the book are written by prominent experts from China and Pakistan. This book is a product of the Strategic Vision Institute’s China Studies & Information Centre based in Islamabad.

For the benefit of readers, the book is divided into four thematic sections. The first section focuses on CPEC within the Pak-China framework with chapters written by QuratulainHafeez, Hassan Dawood Butt, and M Waqas Jan. These chapters provide a comprehensive account of the historic relations between China and Pakistan and focus on geo-economic and geo-strategic aspects of CPEC.

While the first chapter comprehensively deals with the background of Pakistan-China relationship, the second chapter by Butt argues, “The overarching vision of CPEC not only includes Pakistan’s economic well-being through regionals trade but also allows it to position itself as a key regional hub for connecting diverse cultures and societies.” In the final chapter of section one, Jan presents an inclusive analysis of Gwadar and the Gwadar Port. By examining the socio-economic situation of Gwadar, the author argues, “Gwadar holds immense potential in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of a stagnant region.”

Pakistan is likely to be strategically and militarily strengthened, diplomatically integrated, technologically more advanced and socially more synthesised with China” through CPEC

Section two of the book benefits from detailed chapters by Syed Hassan Javed, Song Guoyou and Liu Jun who focus on not just the BRI but also China’s economic rise. Javed presents a comprehensive account of China’s economic model with an analysis of the role of the Communist Party. This chapter follows Song’s examination of the grand vision behind the BRI vis-à-vis regional integration. In this chapter, the author from China claims that the BRI is not merely limited to investment in infrastructural development because “the end goal of this massive initiative is to foster a joining of hearts and minds of a diverse range of people.”

Source: Daily Times

Date: August 1, 2019

China, Pakistan agree to enhance high-level exchanges in view of current global situation: Spokesperson

BEIJING: China and Pakistan have agreed to enhance high-level exchanges and strengthen pragmatic cooperation for more progress in the bilateral relations in wake of the changing international situation, a spokesperson of Chinese foreign ministry Thursday said.

“The two sides also agreed to jointly implement the consensus reached by our two leaders during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum for the International Cooperation,” Lu Knag said while responding to a question asked by APP regarding a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Bishkek.

He informed that the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who is a good friend on the sidelines of their SCO foreign ministers meeting held the other day.

“Both sides believe that the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership is deepened in our Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation” he added.

Lu Kang said both the sides agreed to jointly implement the consensus reached by the two leaders during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance in the second Belt and Road Forum held during the last month.

He said faced with the current international situation, the two countries agreed to enhance high-level exchanges and deepen our practical cooperation for more progress in their bilateral relations.

The spokesperson said the two foreign ministers also discussed some international cooperation on some important issues for example the counter-terrorism.

“Both sides agreed to deepen our cooperation on bilateral and multilateral occasions,” he added.

He said both sides also discussed some other issues including the Afghan situation, the solution to this issue and reached many important consensuses in other areas.

Meanwhile, according to a Chinese foreign ministry’s statement issued here, Wang Yi during the meeting told his Pakistani counterpart that China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership had been deepened and promoted in the process of building the “Belt and Road”.

The two sides should jointly implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China for participation in the second Belt and Road International Cooperation Summit, strengthen high-level exchanges, deepen pragmatic cooperation, and promote China-Pakistan relations.

Wang Yi said the Chinese side appreciated Pakistan’s long-term efforts to combat terrorism. “It hopes and believes in that the Pakistani side will strengthen security work for Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan and safeguard the security of China-Pakistan cooperation.”

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan was willing to work with China to prepare for the next stage of high-level exchanges between the two countries, implement the results of the second “Belt and Road” international cooperation summit forum, strengthen the cooperation between the two countries and promote new achievements in bilateral relations.

The Pakistani side was fully consistent with the Chinese goal in combating terrorism and extremism. Both sides shared the same feelings and the same fate. The concern of the Chinese side was the concern of the Pakistani side.

The Pakistani side would do its utmost to protect the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan, and continue to strengthen bilateral anti-terrorism cooperation under the dual multilateral framework and safeguard the common interests of the two countries and regional peace and stability.

The two sides also exchanged views on the Afghan issue and agreed to strengthen communication and coordination, jointly promote the early political settlement of the Afghan issue, and maintain regional peace and stability.

Date: 24/5/2019

Source: The News

Success of CPEC linked to job opportunities for Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can only become a success if jobs are provided to the local people and Chinese companies are made bound to do businesses through joint ventures.

Transfer of technology should also be ensured otherwise local people would never be benefited by the CPEC projects. Moreover, there should be equal opportunities for Chinese and local companies to do business.

These views were expressed by participants of an event, “Rural Development and Industrialisation in Pakistan” organised by Rural Development Foundation (RDF) at Islamabad Club on Monday.

Representative of Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) Dr Abdur Rehman Cheema said though people of rural areas wanted jobs but he was doubtful if the Chinese companies would provide jobs to them.

Experts say Chinese companies should be made bound to do businesses through joint ventures

“Chinese companies completed projects worth $16 billion in different countries but employed 40,000 Chinese labourers on those projects. We need to make sure that it should not happen in Pakistan,” he said.

However, speaking about the positive points of the partnership with China, Dr Cheema said China focuses on financial issues and has no political interests.

He suggested that CPEC must aim to benefit local people.

Assistant Professor at Comsats University Dr Tahir Mumtaz Awan said the ‘One belt and one road’ was a project aimed at integration of 60 countries and five continents.

“It is a new Silk Route but the problem is local communities might not be integrated. Despite this, it is hoped that because of CPEC Gwadar will become more developed than Dubai. However, we should retain our land and suggest the Chinese to do businesses through joint ventures rather than pushing us to sell our assets such as land. Moreover, transfer of technology should also be ensured,” he said.

Former ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dr Manzoor Ahmed said things were changed rapidly because of CPEC. He said a few years ago Pakistan was losing eight to 10 billion dollars every year due to power shortage but because of CPEC the energy crisis was addressed.

“Moreover, tremendous development has been made in infrastructure. A number of roads are constructed due to which travel duration has reduced by half of the time. However, I have concerns that a number of statutory regulatory orders (SROs) have been issued allowing Chinese companies to bring machinery and equipment free of tax. There should be similar exemptions for the local businessmen otherwise they will not be able to compete. I also suggest that steps should be taken to increase the per acre yield of crops,” he said.

Deputy Chief of Party USAID-TDEA Rashid Chaudhry said because of a decision of the Federal Shariat Court, Pakistan had lost an opportunity for land reforms.

Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation Farrukh Toirov said by 2050 population of the globe would reach nine to 10 billion so agriculture products have to be increased by almost 60 per cent.

“Though 60pc population of Pakistan lives in rural areas small sizes of farms will be an issue as it would be difficult to increase the per acre yield,” he said.

Earlier, Deputy Director RDF Sanaa Khetran said fundamental rights of farmers and those connected to agriculture should be secured and safeguarded and an environment of trust should be maintained.

First Secretary at the embassy of China Jia Wei was the chief guest but he did not address the participants.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Wei said CPEC had entered into the second phase.

“In the first phase, focus was on infrastructure and now in the second phase the focus is on industrialisation. Industrial zones are being built across the country and I hope more investment will come to Pakistan as Prime Minister Imran Khan has signed more MoUs during his visit to China,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019

Author: Ikram Junaidi

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‘CPEC economic zones will help bridge trade deficit of $9b’

Source: The Express Tribune

Date: 20 -1- 2019

LAHORE: Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar on Sunday said that Pakistan facing a trade deficit of $9 billion.

He said the deficit would reduce with the economic zones being set up after the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) becomes operational.

The economic zones would help increase exports, which would in turn decrease the trade deficit, he said while talking to the media persons at the Press Information Department regional office

The minister maintained that 19 per cent reduction in the trade deficit was recorded last month because the volume of exports had jacked up and that of imports receded.

He said China and Pakistan would also start working jointly on the agriculture sector in next month.

China, he said, would also provide $1 billion grant to Pakistan in next three years, while around 100 Chinese investors would soon visit the country to explore investment opportunities in various sectors.

Khusro said Pakistan and China had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on industrial cooperation on December 20, 2018.

The PTI-led government, he said, had decided to take CPEC into a new phase by widening its scope. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China was focused on strengthening of Pakistan’s economy, he added.

He told that the government was also taking effective measures to reduce the current account deficit, besides prioritising facilitation to the export-oriented industries.

The minister said initially the agriculture sector was not included in CPEC. However, the incumbent government convinced China to also extend its cooperation in the vital sector.

“China has a share of $7 billion in the global trade of agriculture and livestock, and $3 billion in fisheries, but Pakistan has none in the two sectors”, remarked Khusro.

Pakistan, with the cooperation of China, was working on elimination of poverty as latter had successfully pulled 700 million people out of poverty.

A pilot project on the Chinese pattern would be initiated, which definitely would help to reduce poverty substantially, he hoped.

To a question, he said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had shown keen interest in the establishment of an oil city in Gwadar.

 

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CPEC may invite hybrid warfare against Pakistan

Source: Asia Times
Author: ATTA RASOOL MALIK 
Date: 5th December,2018.

 

Wars are expensive in terms of blood and treasure. Through the ages, this fundamental truth has driven military strategists to search for a quick and inexpensive path to victory in battle. The ultimate aim of any contesting nation is to force an unwilling enemy government to accept peace on its terms. In democratic countries, the actions of that hostile government are generally based on the will of the people, so no victory can be complete until that “will” is reshaped or moulded.

Liddell Hart, a British military theorist, argued that a man killed is merely one man less, whereas a man unnerved is a highly infectious carrier of fear, capable of spreading an epidemic of panic. Hart argued that the resulting psychological pressure on the government of a country may neutralize all the resources at its command – so that the sword drops from a paralyzed hand. Therefore, a successful strategist thinks in terms of paralysis, not killing.

The mechanism for inducing or coercing a quick change in the government’s position can occur in at least three ways: first, key governmental leaders are killed and replaced by a more sympathetic group; second, the government is overthrown, either by a popular revolt or from a faction within; or, third, the country’s leaders are persuaded  to change their minds.

Every country enjoys at least four instruments of national power or influence. They are: political, economic, military, and informational. In the modern age, the preferred method is to selectively attack or threaten targets that most directly support the enemy‘s will to continue with its current behavior.

Hybrid warfare, a relatively new concept, is a multiple-prong effort aimed at paralyzing the enemy’s leadership through military and non-military clandestine activities, economic subversion and propaganda dissemination. These techniques have been around for ages, but now they incorporate modern-day technologies and are synergized in a scientific manner.

Confusion and disorder follow when weaponized information aggravates the perception of insecurity in the populace as political, social, and cultural identities are pitted against one another.

A hybrid war takes place on three distinct battlefields: the conventional kind, the indigenous population of the conflict zone, and the international community.

Sometimes all it takes is a small and dedicated group of provocateurs to spark clashes with the authorities, along with misleading reports that the security forces are attacking “hard-pressed peaceful protesters.”

The whole point of engineering a completely false narrative of “democratic freedom fighters” resisting a “tyrannical, incompetent and corrupt” regime is that it serves the dual purposes of encouraging more citizens to join in the growing riot and to generate support from abroad. Therefore, hybrid war could mean a synergized campaign of disinformation, terrorism, cyber-attacks on digitally dependent communication networks, criminal activities, proxy sponsorship,, rebellion, insurgency, or anything like that.

Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) guarantees China’s strategic freedom and flexibility in the face of the United States’ naval threats and nullifies all the trouble that it is causing along its southern maritime borderlands. Therefore, the US has a grand interest in disrupting, controlling, or influencing the Silk Road and CPEC.

Pakistan requires the rapid development of a communication network to facilitate cohesion and economic prosperity. However, the country is rife with historical, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and geographic differences, which could be manipulated by the US and its arch-rival India to engineer violence and set a hybrid war scenario in motion. Many informed people in Pakistan are of the view that Pakistan is under hybrid attack by hostile forces.

In today’s world, apart from traditional media, popular social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube are the primary means of disinformation and propaganda. On these media platforms, various activities related to hybrid warfare are challenging to detect and defeat.

It is most likely that the authorities will always be one step behind the hybrid war agents unless the target government outrightly bans these services. The permanent closure of such services is not a wise option as it can shatter the credibility of the democratic government. Imposing restrictions is best employed for short periods during critical times, such as a few weeks before general elections and similarly important events.

It is also true that information, fake or otherwise, homegrown or imported, will have no impact unless it is accepted as fact by the masses. Therefore, the timely provision of information and critical thinking are the antidote to “fake news and hostile propaganda.” The government should work to enhance online digital platforms that are‘efficient and credible, to ensure the timely provision of information for consumption by the masses and interest groups.

All Pakistani institutions must work together to ensure that the top leadership,  both civil and military, remains credible. It will help us beat back hybrid assaults against CPEC and the state of Pakistan.

Misconceptions about CPEC

A flagship of China’s massive One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is driven in part by Beijing’s desire to build additional routes for its energy imports from the Middle East and to lessen its dependence on sea routes. For Pakistan, CPEC is an extremely cohesive project, a game changer not only for Pakistan but for the entire region and beyond. The corridor has been welcomed across the region with optimism that can only accelerate with the passage of time. Unfortunately, there are detractors to this vital project, India’s blatantly hostile stance is supported by some leaders of a few nationalist parties, political workers, intellectuals and even a few analysts. A sustained campaign has been launched to create an impression that Pakistan will lose more than it will gain. The barrage of criticism spread across a platform of lies and falsehood must be debunked and the actual facts explained.

One myth and wrong perception is that China is an imperialist power bent on exploiting “our natural resources for the gargantuan appetite of economic growth”, the fact is that China is blessed with huge deposits of natural resources, including some rare earth elements. A wrong perception being spread is that Chinese labour and workers (mainly Chinese prisoners) will replace Pakistani workers rendering them jobless, whereas the fact is there is more than plenty of work in China. For security reasons the 10,000 Chinese nationals living in several camps will go back when projects are completed. That Chinese military bases are planned in the coastal belt and Gwadar Port is another wrong opinion. The actual fact is that CPEC is a 100% economic project aimed at linking the region with economic opportunities with no military designs. Apart from this, there is another false perception that anti-state sentiment in Xinjiang will only exacerbate the likelihood for militant ideologies to connect across CPEC, the fact is that this socio-economic project will bring in prosperity and peace in the region, particularly in the less-developed areas. Youth will get job opportunities reducing their vulnerability to terrorist teaching.

The wrong perception and belief that Pakistan’s rising trade deficit with China ($6.2 billion) will harm Pakistan is not Pakistan-specific. India’s trade deficit with China is 47 billion dollars and that of the US is 347 billion dollars. There is a false notion prevalent that Pakistan is being dictated terms by China, the provinces are not being consulted whereas the fact is that all four provinces are consulted and invited to every meeting Pakistan and abroad. In May 2017, all chief ministers attended the OBOR Summit in China with former PM Nawaz Sharif. That CPEC will harm local businesses is another wrong idea, the fact is that by providing quality products, CPEC will increase competitiveness of goods in local markets. Pakistan not being able to provide security to Chinese here, especially in Balochistan, due to the law and order situation isn’t a reality either. The fact is two Special Security Divisions (SSD) have been mobilised by the army, consisting of 15,000 personnel providing security to CPEC projects/personnel. It is not true that air pollution caused by coal-fired power plants is harmful. Plants in Pakistan are all new, thus there is no question about air pollution. Over 1,000 similar plants are already operational in China.

Another wrong perception is that CPEC is not going to bring about any positive change for Pakistan but the fact is that to even claim the massive investment of over $70 billion in Pakistan, over $600 billion in Russia and more than $200 billion in Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan will not bring any change is unrealistic and absurd. The notion that resources will be exploited with projects being undertaken against the will of locals, resulting in demographic change is false as the fact is that Balochistan’s growth is more than guaranteed; CPEC investment will create more job opportunities bringing about change for the better for locals. Pakistan becoming a Chinese colony is far from being a possibility as the actual fact is that history has proven that colonialism and imperialism are legacies of countries of the global West. China (and the US) are industrial powers with global clout that have never tried to colonise any country. High insurance, high loan interest and high return on equity is also a myth whereas the fact is that most loans are of low interest, in projects investment is guaranteed with 17% return per annum on equity.

The deliberate attempts by anti-Pakistan lobbies and giving air to wrong perceptions about CPEC are because they know it will bring progress and prosperity in Pakistan. By creating doubts and sowing fear and misconceptions, a lot of traction has also been gained by the cynics of CPEC reporting factually incorrect information. The government’s efforts to debunk misconceptions have fallen woefully short, the electronic and print media must get into the act to educate the masses and launch a campaign about the actual benefits to Pakistan from this mega project. What must be hammered home is that China is a friend which has put their money where their mouth is by actually bringing sizable investment into Pakistan when no other country was willing to do so, rhetoric has been replaced by substance. The level of economic engagement China is undertaking with Pakistan is unprecedented and will go a long way in improving our economy and bringing about a more stable political situation in the country.

SOURCE:https://tribune.com.pk/story/1748106/6-misconceptions-about-cpec/

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/

Pakistan and China have a history of friendship which was built by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mao Tes-tung: Sherry Rehman

Leader of Opposition in Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman has said that cooperation between Pakistan and China is a manifestation of the desire to further deepen ties for mutual benefit. She expressed these views while talking to Acting Chinese Ambassador Zhao Lijian, who called on her at the Parliament House on Friday.Senator Sherry Rehman said that, “Pakistan and China have a history of friendship which was built by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mao Tes-tung and both the countries have stood with each other and seen the vicissitudes of time. She said that this historic friendship has remained beneficial for both in economic and strategic fields while initiatives like “CPEC and OBOR (One Belt One Road Initiative) have added further impetus to bilateral relations between the two sides.”

She said that the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, former President Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto – Zardari always placed Pak-China relations in highest regards and consensus exists across party lines in relations with China. Rehman said that, “we hope that CPEC will generate more jobs at very fast pace, more opportunities for Pakistani youth and expediting social and economic development.”

Critical narratives are also being propelled within Pakistan that “China is trying to take advantage of Pakistan which has managed to isolate itself from the international community due to allegations of terror financing,” said a Netherland-based think tank.

Rehman appreciated the fact that Chinese envoy was further proactive in consolidating the Pakistan and China friendship. The Ambassador informed the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate about the projects initiated under CPEC and said that fourteen projects under CPEC have able to generate 70000 employment opportunities for the youth of Pakistan and more projects are in the pipeline which would further grow employment in the country.

He said that, locals are a priority in all the CPEC projects. He also appreciated the fact that PPP was instrumental in bringing CPEC to Pakistan with President Zardari and Chinese President Xi Jingping signing agreements.

The extensive transactional economic ties between the two neighbors, have resulted in major realignments of strategic partnerships by countries perceiving CPEC as a threat to their domestic and international dominance.  India, is concerned about the Pakistan’s growing regional influence emerging from CPEC, both in terms of economic growth and consequent political stability. On the other hand America’s loosening grip on Pakistan’s foreign policy has put them in a position of uncertainty in the region.

US has always been apprehensive of china’s robust growth, as it has the weight required to tip of the global power balance. The Pak-China strategic duo is likely to undermine US influence in the region, and thus, partnership between India and US is a predictable consequence, if they are to retain their influence in the region.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis upped the ante further by questioning the legality of China’s much-hyped One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, warning that the planned infrastructure-building initiative would pass through what India considers the “disputed territories” of Kashmir and Gilgit-Balistan, where the borders of China, India, and Pakistan meet.

Senator Sherry Rehman said that, “Pakistan and China have a history of friendship which was built by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mao Tes-tung and both the countries have stood with each other and seen the vicissitudes of time.

This time the retort came from Beijing, which called on other countries to join their regional cooperation agreements instead of perceiving them as a threat. If everybody is offered a piece of the pie, only those countries will oppose which have ambitions beyond their sovereignty.

However, critical narratives are also being propelled within Pakistan that “China is trying to take advantage of Pakistan which has managed to isolate itself from the international community due to allegations of terror financing,” said a Netherland-based think tank. “Beijing is knowingly patronising Islamabad to turn it into a colony dependent on China for day-to-day survival”, according to Amsterdam-based European Foundation for South Asian Studies.

However, grass-root sentiments remain optimistic with regards to the CPEC projects, foreseeing regional stability, gradual real growth in Pakistan, and far-reaching positive impact on global trade. China is building the foundation upon which a new era of globalization will rise.

SOURCE:https://www.globalvillagespace.com/cpec-lays-foundation-for-new-era-in-world-trade/

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National Assembly dedicated 8% agenda to CPEC, foreign affairs, anti-terrorism issues

ISLAMABAD: The last National Assembly took up China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), foreign affairs and anti-terrorism issues by dedicating 8 per cent of agenda during its five-year tenure that ended on May 31.

The 14th Assembly preferred these issues on the government-sponsored and supplementary business items over private lawmakers’ interventions, said a press release by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) issued here Wednesday.

Pakistan witnessed crucial foreign relation challenges during last five years, including increasing tensions with neighboring India and Afghanistan, various conflicts in the Muslim world and strained ties with the United States (US) amidst warming relationship with Russia and the development of CPEC.

Despite the urgency warranted by many of these issues, the government avoided proactive deliberation on foreign affairs in the National Assembly. In fact, some efforts by private lawmakers, particularly by the Opposition members, to take up these issues in the House were stalled.

On the anti-terrorism front, the government formulated the National Security Policy 2014-18, the National Action Plan 2015 (NAP) and the National Security Policy 2019-2023. The development of these policies did not involve debate or deliberation in any parliamentary forum. The debate occurred only on the National Security Policy 2014-18 after it had been formulated.

Parliamentary business on foreign affairs accounted for nearly five per cent of the regular agenda tabled in the House during the Assembly’s term, of which almost 85 per cent was addressed during House proceedings while the remaining lapsed.

Agenda related to foreign affairs included 24 Calling Attention Notices (CANs), 55  resolutions, 27  Motions under Rule 259, 671 questions and a private member’s bill which did not proceed beyond committee’s deliberation.

Lawmakers raised matters concerning Pakistan’s relations with Muslim countries, particularly in the context of Middle Eastern crises, with India in the context of the Kashmir issue and with the US in the backdrop of the War on Terror and the Pakistan Foreign Office’s performance in facilitating overseas Pakistani citizens, especially workers and prisoners in jails abroad. More than two-thirds of the resolutions on foreign affairs were moved as supplementary agenda i.e. they were not included on the House’s Orders of the Day.

Through these resolutions, the House expressed its opinions and recommendations to the government regarding various matters in the ambit of foreign affairs.

The House, in a resolution, recommended that the government should consider suspending diplomatic ties with the US following President Trump’s statement deriding Pakistan’s role in and contributions to international anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. However, the fate of this resolution, among others, remains unknown. Lawmakers underlined similar issues through CANs; of 24 notices, 83 per cent were successful in drawing responses from the government whereas the remaining 17 per cent were not addressed.

Moreover, only 30 per cent of the Motions under Rule 259 moved on foreign affairs issues were discussed in the House.

The majority of the Motions discussed were initiated by the government whereas similar Motions by private lawmakers were largely ignored during the Assembly’s five years.

Through a private member’s bill, the Opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) proposed that the government should be bound to seek parliamentary approval prior to entering into any international agreement. However, the bill did not return to the House after its first reading and subsequent referral to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Lawmakers also sought clarifications on several foreign affairs matters from various Ministries during the Question Hour and 90 per cent questions received responses.

The Assembly’s business on issues regarding terrorism and anti-terrorism constituted only about one per cent of the House’s total agenda.

The House addressed 61 per cent of these agenda items whereas the remaining 39 per cent remained unaddressed. The agenda included 3 percent CANs, 8 per cent resolutions, 16 6 per cent Motions under Rule one per cent questions and 16.8 per cent government bills.

Through these agenda items, lawmakers expressed reactions to various incidents of terrorism in the country and formulated a collective response on anti-terrorism measures to be suggested to the government. Militancy in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were recurring themes in these agenda items.

In a bid to strengthen the anti-terrorism regime in the country, the 14th Assembly passed laws that included extending the jurisdiction of military courts to civilians.

These included amendments in the constitution and other relevant laws. Additionally, the Assembly introduced changes in the laws governing the registration of foreigners in the country and the functioning of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA). However, a resolution tabled by a PPPP lawmaker on measures to improve NACTA’s effectiveness was rejected by the majority due to the Treasury’s opposition.

The House held discussions on government-sponsored Motions under Rule 259 following every major terrorist attack in the country. All such discussions were centered on the Opposition urging the government to activate NACTA and the government reiterating its commitment to eradicate terrorism from the country.

The National Security Policy 2014-2018 was also discussed in the House, however, private lawmakers’ Motions to discuss the law and order situation, the NAP, attacks on polio-vaccination workers and cross-border terrorism were ignored by the House. Moreover, lawmakers sought information from the government on terrorism-related matters through 131 questions, of which 61 per cent received responses during the Assembly’s term.

Business concerned specifically with CPEC included one CAN and 116 questions only, which account for roughly one per cent of the total questions asked during the Assembly’s five-year term. Lawmakers sought information on various CPEC projects, CPEC routes and security provisions for projects and personnel.

SOURCE:https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/06/28/na-dedicated-8-agenda-to-cpec-foreign-affairs-anti-terrorism-issues/