Posts

, , ,

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/

, ,

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/

Local media urged to remove negative misconceptions about CPEC(China Pakistan Economic Corridor)

ISLAMABAD: As the government has failed to remove many misconceptions about the multibillion-dollar project – the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the local media has been urged to remove the myths and negative propaganda against the corridor, which is considered as a game changer for the country and region alike.

Acting Ambassador of People’s Republic of China, Zhao Lijan, while addressing a seminar on “CPEC and Role of Media” organized by the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) here at a local hotel in Islamabad on Monday, shared six major misconceptions on CPEC(China Pakistan Economic Corridor) which are being discussed in media and other forums. On one of the interesting misconceptions about the project – that Chinese prisoners were actually working on different projects in Pakistan, the Chinese ambassador, while rejecting the theory, claimed that the misconception might have been created due to the security arrangements made for the workers whose movements in Pakistan are restricted for security purposes.

Another misconception, he said, was related to air pollution being caused by the coal-fired power plants. He said the plants installed in Pakistan were new and pollution free. There were over 1000 similar plants operational in China.

Talking about another misconception being circulated in the media, he says, is related to the debt and high loan interests to Chinese companies under the CPEC. He said the debt under CPEC was merely 10 per cent of the total debt of Pakistan. At present, the amount for the CPEC projects under construction or completed in $19 billion for which the financing arrangements are divided into four categories including investments, gratuitous aid provided by the Chinese side, interests free loan and preferential buyer credit. For investment, the main source of funds are commercial bank loans by investors, and not by the Pakistani government. The repayment method of such an investment is mainly based on the operating income after the completion of the projects and will not increase the debt burden. Most of the energy projects under CPEC use this approach. The interest rate of the loans provided by the Chinese banks for energy projects under CPEC is around 6 per cent.

According to the ambassador, for gratuitous aid, there is no pressure on the Pakistani side to pay back.  For preferential buyers’ credit, the total amount under CPEC is $6 billion, a 31.6 per cent of the total cost of the corridor project. According to the Export-Import Bank of China, the peak value of Pakistan’s repayment of will occur in 2024, with only $527 million whereas the total amount to be paid back is $7.4 billion.

In reply to a query, he said, that corruption is needed to be controlled while ensuring transparency in government affairs. However, he said, a complete eradication of corruption is not possible in any country.

Earlier, addressing the seminar, renowned economist and former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain also rejected the impression that China is entrapping Pakistan by giving expensive loans and credits for projects of dubious economic value. According to him, the said apprehensions are totally misplaced and based on conjectures, not on actual facts. Out of the total commitment of $50 billion, 70 per cent or $35 billion would be coming to Pakistan in the form of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The Chinese companies are following the established IPP policy of the Government which is applicable to all domestic and foreign investors under which they are allowed 17 per cent return on equity in US dollar terms. Infrastructure projects would be financed by long-term concessional loans averaging an interest rate of per cent nt and grants. It is estimated that the total annual outflows on both these counts would average between 2.5 to 3 billion dollars annually.

Dr Ishrat said the energy crisis had crippled the economy as even in the PPP governmen,t exports had registered $25 billion, which came down to $20 billion in the last years of the PMLN government. The losses to national income due to energy shortages amounted to $6 billion annually. However, he hoped, as these shortages are eased and efficiency gains are realized the national income would rise at least by $6-7 billion per annum. Resumption of a higher growth rate of 6 to 7 per cent would not only suffice to repay these obligations comfortably but also have ample resources available for new investment. Exports are now beginning to grow in double digits. It is estimated that a 14 per cent growth rate of exports would be able to finance the additional foreign exchange burden of all the repayments on account of CPEC.

“What we need is to get the maximum benefit of the CPEC projects, concessional loan facilities to increase exports. Once exports are increased the issue of balance of payment will be resolved. We are already paying back the loan worth $6 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he added.

Addressing the seminar, Minister of Information Barrister Ali Zafar said claimed that it was the failure of governments to share information about CPEC with the public which created many confusion and misconceptions. As per Article 19A of the constitution, every citizen of the country has the right to get information. All process of contracts, financial transactions and projects related matters should be made public to avoid any doubt.

He suggested making a legal framework or body to speedily handle disputes and issues related to CPEC under one umbrella. An overseeing body may also monitor progress on CPEC projects.

Renowned senior journalist and President of CPNE Arif Nizami, while addressing the seminar said there was some misconception regarding CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) and local media has failed to educate the people about how the mega project will benefit them.

Unfortunately, for local media, especially electronic media, CPEC is a boring subject to discuss and focus on. The media in Pakistan also gives little importance to economic issues. Both print and electronic media should play its role to remove the misconception about CPEC.

He said that China has a different concept of freedom of media/press. Chinese media should also be encouraged and facilitated to visit Pakistan paving way for more interaction of media.

Addressing the seminar, Defence Analyst and writer, Ikram Sehgal said that there were many myths regarding the corridor project. The misconceptions like Pakistan could be a colony of China, Beijing will exploit resources in Balochistan, transnational terrorism will be encouraged, Chinese workers will replace locals, local business will be harmed etc are all based on wrong conceptions propagated mostly by enemies.

China has never colonised any country. “Even in the present situation regional realignment, Pakistan should maintain its neutrality,” Sehgal suggested

SOURCE:https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/06/25/local-media-urged-to-remove-negative-misconceptions-about-cpec/

, ,

SECURING THE CPEC (Threats from India)

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation. The CPEC is located at the hub of the BRI and is a pivotal component of its 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It can fetch unprecedented and unconditional prosperity and peace dividends for the entire South and Central Asian region and scores of the 60 plus BRI countries. As part of the CPEC, the Gwadar port can offer indirect benefits to many of the 32 littoral states of the Indian Ocean that may not be part of the BRI. Regrettably, some powers are opposing this progress for their own perverted and trivial reasons. They are creating overt and covert hurdles in its implementation and are displaying competitive, rather than cooperative reactions. Rival projects like the US sponsored  ‘New Silk Road package’,  in partnership with India and Afghanistan and the ‘Indo-Pacific Freedom Corridor’ proposed by India and Japan, have  been prompted by the CPEC. Similarly, Indian investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar is intended to contest with growth of Gwadar port.  China and Pakistan have rightly not shown any aversion to the competition, though India has already started misusing the Chabahar project for aiding, abetting and sponsoring RAW terrorist networks to disrupt the CPEC. Of greater concern are the numerous efforts and international conspiracies, engineered by India and supported by others, to sabotage the CPEC. Indian hostile activities in Pakistan intensified within days of the inauguration of the CPEC shipments. Attempts include numerous Indian terrorist activities in Balochistan in collaboration with Afghanistan that are mentioned in the confessions of Commander Jhadav.

Frequent disinformation campaigns about CPEC have also simultaneously been launched inside Pakistan. All these highly provocative actions are part of a well thought and integrated, international conspiracy that is   tantamount to an undeclared war, as they pose a direct threat to the national interests of not only China and Pakistan but many other countries that could benefit from the BRI and the CPEC.  US support to India on the matter, under this environment is very short sighted indeed.

Though challenges to CPEC appear daunting but they can be surmounted. The Pakistani Foreign Office has taken note of some of more serious developments and has initiated appropriate action to condemn and reject hostile measures against the CPEC, calling them as an infringement of the UN Charter and impingement of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, this has been done somewhat cautiously and at a rather low level, so far. There   is a need to concomitantly and officially communicate our concerns, at the highest level, to the heads of the foreign governments that are opposing the CPEC. This should be done jointly and severally by Pakistan and China, in consultation with the other countries that are part of the BRI.  Our response should include manifold collective remedies and counteractions, to compel the antagonists of the CPEC to desist from hurting our economic interests. The BRI has recently been written into China’s constitution. Being a vital interest, the Pakistani government must also provide constitutional protection to the CPEC. Negative propaganda against the CPEC must be dispelled through Sino-Pak state and private media, ensuring transparency of planning, as well as execution and arranging seminars and workshops.

While the government has raised special security force for the protection of the CPEC, this must be augmented with a Pak-China CPEC intelligence organization, satellitemonitoring and enhanced maritime collaboration. Another multinational organization, led by China, must be formed to respond to the threats posed to the BRI, through coordinated political, diplomatic, economic, security and surveillance measures.

Despite heavy odds, many CPEC projects are already up and running. This is a clear message about the resilience and determination of the Chinese and the Pakistani people, who are committed to its success, not only for their own benefit, but also for others to diversify and develop their economies. This should inspire everyone to support, rather than oppose the CPEC.

SOURCE:https://pakobserver.net/securing-the-cpec-2/

, ,

CPEC to help PR improve performance: PM

Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk Tuesday said that with CPEC, there is a huge potential and scope for Pakistan Railways to further improve its performance and increase its share both in passenger as well as freight transportation sector by offer quality services to its customers.

During a briefing about the performance of Pakistan Railway, the prime minister directed that a comprehensive plan would be worked out to overcome the existing challenges for the consideration of the incoming elected government.

The briefing was attended by Minister for Railways Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, Secretary to the PM Suhail Aamir, Secretary Railways Muhammad Javed Anwar and senior officers of Ministry of Railways. The prime minister was informed that as a result of right mix in service the passenger share in Railways has increased from 13percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2017.

Pakistan Railways recorded a revenue of Rs50 billion in 2017-18 as compared to revenue of Rs15.5 billion in 2011-12.

The prime minister was briefed about organizational structure, rail network, past performance and the future development strategy under National Vision 2025 in the Railways sector.

The prime minister was also briefed about the new business plan and various initiatives taken, both in freight as well as passenger transportation sector, for the revival of Railways and increasing its revenues. The prime minister was also briefed about the progress made in various rail network extension projects under the CPEC.  It was informed that Main Line-1 (ML-1) project from Karachi to Havelian was being upgraded as Early Harvest Project under the CPEC.

It was informed that feasibility study for upgradation of ML-2 (Kotri-Attock) project has also been completed. Similarly, feasibility studies were in progress on extension of ML-2 (Gwadar-Basima-Jacobabad and Basima-Quetta) and extension of ML-3 (Quetta-Bostan-Zhob-DI Khan-Kotlajam) projects.

The prime minister was also apprised about the challenges faced by the organisation including the issue of pension liabilities that contributed to 34 percent of the total expenditure of the organisation.

The prime minister appreciated the performance of Pakistan Railways especially various initiatives taken under the strategic business plan.

SOURCE:https://nation.com.pk/20-Jun-2018/cpec-to-help-pr-improve-performance-pm

, ,

CPEC: beyond infrastructure

Recently, I came across a very interesting research undertaken by a private sector firm that ranked the 67 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to assess their attractiveness for investment and infrastructure. The research was based on publicly available data from the IMF, World Bank, UNDP and Transparency International.

On this Belt and Road Index, Pakistan was ranked the 11th least attractive country. The index was based on economic potential, demographic advantage, infrastructure development, institutional effectiveness, market accessibility and resilience to natural disasters. Out of the six parameters, Pakistan performed the worst on institutional effectiveness, with a score that was less than half of India’s and lowest within South Asia, surpassing only that of Afghanistan.

The results are not surprising and resonate rather well with data from other sources as well as with anecdotal evidence. A few weeks ago, I met an investor, who has set up a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant in Pakistan on an industrial plot in a government-sponsored industrial estate. To his dismay, the land title still is in the name of private individuals and despite knocking on various doors he has not had any luck in the last two years in transferring the title in his name, despite payment of all dues. In the meanwhile, his lenders are pushing for ownership record before he can access credit.

This is one of countless such examples. Investors keep on complaining about bureaucratic red tape, rent seeking by regulatory agencies and frequently changing policies leading to unforeseen costs.

About $46 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been committed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These have to be completed within 10 years or so. For a country with $300 billion GDP, it translates into additional 1 to 1.5% of GDP every year and provides the much needed capital to build north-south highways to facilitate trade and construct power plants to help overcome years of load-shedding.

Infrastructure development and growth go hand in hand. Ensuring uninterrupted supply of energy, building state-of-the-art road, rail and transport infrastructure and providing reliable urban services pave the way for future investments and growth. If, however, the infrastructure stock is not maintained and new investments are not made at the requisite level, it may lead to power shortages and transmission losses, congested roads prolonging travel time and poor quality infrastructure services discouraging investors to relocate, thereby straining growth prospects.

But the real question is whether good infrastructure is sufficient to attract investment. As per World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the five most problematic factors for doing business in Pakistan are corruption, tax rates, government instability, crime and inefficient government bureaucracy. Availability of infrastructure comes way lower in the list. This means that without addressing these soft yet potent issues, no amount of investment in hard infrastructure can convince the investors to invest.

The stories of Rajapaksa Airport and Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka have been frequently quoted by critics of CPEC and BRI, as examples of misplaced priorities and building expensive infrastructure without demand. With ten times more population than Sri Lanka and a strategically located port, Pakistan does not face the same risk of low demand. If anything, the CPEC road infrastructure can provide a very busy transit and trade route in future. Its special economic zones can host manufacturers that wish to relocate closer to their markets and the power plants can provide energy for the new industries. This is where the real returns on CPEC have to be expected.

This however would require a lot of homework domestically in addressing the softer issues. Without an enabling business environment, Pakistan can never achieve the dream of prosperity that has been promised under CPEC. And this would require fixing governance. Sooner or later, we’ll have to realise that there are no shortcuts to reform.

SOURCE:https://tribune.com.pk/story/1738036/6-cpec-beyond-infrastructure/

, ,

CPEC: the governance challenges ahead — II

Pakistan faces both internal and external security threats. The monster of modern terrorism, however, is a post-9/11 phenomenon. When General-cum-President Pervez Musharraf supported the US-led War on Terror (WoT) against the Taliban, the latter, in reaction, started targeting the Pakistani society and state. Resultantly, more than thirty thousand civilians and law enforcement officials have lost their lives in multiple acts of terrorism since 2003. Nevertheless, the overall number of causalities have dropped since 2014 owing to some legislative and executive measures taken by the government, but suicide bombers are still a real threat. Finding opportunity, any terrorist organization can strike. The country’s security apparatuses are the most tempting targets, while minorities are the most vulnerable.

Most of the people who died in terror attacks were ordinary Pakistani citizens, both Muslims and non-Muslims. But foreigners have also been targeted. For example, an American national was kidnapped and later killed in Karachi some years ago. Iranians have also been targeted.

Similarly, the Islamic State (IS) abducted, as per media reports, two Chinese nationals who were Christian missionaries, near Quetta in 2017. The couple was eventually killed. This seemed like an attempt on the part of the terrorists to malign China-Pakistan relations, in general, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, in particular. Moreover, another Chinese national was also killed in Karachi, reportedly by extortionists. The deceased Chinese citizen, according to Pakistani officials, was working for a non-CPEC firm called Cosco Shipping Lines Pak (Pvt) Ltd, which has been doing business in Pakistan since the early 1990s. If analysed objectively, in both cases, the Chinese nationals were residing or working in Pakistan in their private capacity. Furthermore, they were not related to CPEC in any capacity. Noticeably, the missionary couple and the private-firm employee were provided due security by the government. However, in both incidents, the Chinese citizens seemed to have violated security protocols, which cost them their lives.

The overall number of terror-related casualties has dropped since 2014 owing to some legislative and executive measures taken by the government, but suicide bombers are still a real threat. Finding opportunity, any terrorist organisation can strike

Recently there have also been reports of some Chinese citizens involved in financial crimes such as ATM skimming. Such cases remain under investigation. In addition, in April 2018, a number of Chinese workers were filmed assaulting some personnel of the Punjab police in the Noor Pur camp (Khanewal, Punjab). Video footage of this shameful incident went viral on social media. At one point during the scuffle, the country project manager of the concerned company stood arrogantly on the bonnet of the police van with the Pakistani flag visible beside his shoes — this was not the first such incident.

Here, it is pertinent to mention that on December 8, 2017, the Chinese embassy in Islamabad issued a press release that read “the Chinese embassy has received some information that the security of the Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan might be threatened.  This Embassy would make it clear that Pakistan is a friendly country to China. We appreciate that Pakistan has attached much importance to the security of the Chinese institutions and personnel”. The preceding is a reflection of China’s growing security concerns vis-à-vis its CPEC related citizens. Even, the number of non-CPEC related Chinese nationals — working, for example, as journalists — have crossed fifteen thousands. Physical security of the Chinese residing and working in Pakistan has, therefore, emerged as a legitimate concern, which the Pakistani authorities need to take into policy consideration.

However, despite the mentioned cases of Chinese citizens being killed by terrorists, the fact of the matter is that CPEC has, thus far, not been targeted by a major terrorist attack on its infrastructure, machinery and work force. However, this should not discourage or devalue the significance of security enhancement on the part of Pakistani authorities. Rather, impending security threats ought to be responded to diligently. This will be easier said than done because it raises questions on the legal, institutional and administrative capacity of the government.

For example, is it the prerogative of the local, provincial, regional or federal government to provide material and physical security to, for example, transportation infrastructure (or to the proposed Special Economic Zones) and the Chinese work force and machinery involved at different stages of construction? If it is a combined arrangement on the part of the provincial and federal government, who will be responsible for implementing the security measures? Which government and at what level, will bear the financial and logistical cost of security? Moreover, if the provision of security is the responsibility of the provincial government, will the province be able to manage it logistically and institutionally? Significantly, will the Chinese companies and human resource be satisfied with the security arrangements provided by Pakistani authorities? These are some major security challenges that Pakistan will have to deal with for the sake of CPEC, which has been termed by both China and Pakistan, as a crucial component of contemporary bilateral relations. I will provide policy input, in this respect, in the upcoming articles in this series.

SOURCE:https://dailytimes.com.pk/255100/cpec-the-governance-challenges-ahead-ii/