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One Belt, One Road, One Big Mistake

Source: Foreign Policy
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The headlines coming out of this year’s APEC conference in Papua New Guinea focused on the conflict between America and China that kept the forum from issuing a joint communiqué. Less noticed were two short memorandums released on the sidelines of the conference by the island nations of Vanuatu and Tonga. In return for renegotiating existing debt, both agreed to become the newest participants—following other Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea and Fiji—in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign-policy venture, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As Xi’s trillion-dollar development strategy has snaked away from the Eurasian heartland and into the South Pacific, western Africa, and Latin America, concern has grown. Many Americans fear that the Belt and Road Initiative is an extension of efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine the security and economic architecture of the international order. China’s growing largesse, they worry, comes largely at the expense of international institutions and American influence.

This angst lies behind another announcement made at last month’s APEC gathering: Australia, Japan, and the United States declared that they had formed their own trilateral investment initiative to help meet infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific. For some this is not enough: In its most recent report to the United States Congress, the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended that Congress create an additional fund “to provide additional bilateral assistance for countries that are a target of or vulnerable to Chinese economic or diplomatic pressure.”

This is the wrong response to the Belt and Road Initiative. Ignore the hype: For the Chinese, this initiative has been a strategic blunder. By buying into the flawed idea that barrels of money are all that is needed to solve complex geopolitical problems, China has committed a colossal error. Xi’s dictatorship makes it almost impossible for the country to admit this mistake or abandon his pet project. The United States and its allies gain nothing from making China’s blunders their own.

In Xi’s speeches, the phrase most closely associated with the Belt and Road Initiative is “community of common destiny.” Xi’s use of this term is meant to link the BRI to the deeper purpose party leaders have articulated for the CCP over the last three decades. China’s leaders believe that not only is it their “historic mission” to bring about China’s “national rejuvenation” as the world’s most prestigious power, but that China has a unique role to play in the development of “political civilization” writ large.

It is the Chinese, Xi maintains (as Hu and Jiang did before him), who have adapted socialism to modern conditions, and in so doing have created a unique Chinese answer to “the problems facing mankind.” Though this answer began in China, Xi is clear that the time has come for “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach” to benefit those outside of China. The Belt and Road Initiative is intended to do just that. By using the Chinese model of socialism to develop the world’s poorer regions, the initiative justifies Xi’s grandiose claims about the party’s historic mission on the international stage.

To match these lofty aims, Chinese academics and policy analysts at prestigious party think tanks have articulated more down-to-earth goals for the initiative. According to them, the BRI promises to integrate China’s internal markets with those of its neighbours. Doing so will bring its neighbours closer to China geopolitically and bring stability to the region. By increasing economic activity in China’s border regions, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, the Belt and Road Initiative will lessen the appeal that separatist ideology might have to the residents. Another projected benefit is the energy security that will come through the construction of BRI-funded transport routes. Finally, by articulating and then following through on an initiative that puts common development over power politics, China will gain an advantage over other major countries (read: Japan and the United States) who present the world as a black-and-white competition for hegemony. The community of common destiny, these analysts have claimed, is a community that will immensely benefit China.

As the Belt and Road Initiative is only five years old (and many of its main members have been involved for a far shorter time) its full results cannot yet be judged. However, a preliminary assessment can be offered for BRI projects in South and Southeast Asia, the region described by Chinese leaders as the “main axis” of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is here that BRI investment is strongest and has been around longest. The picture is not promising. The hundreds of billions spent in these countries has not produced returns for investors, nor political returns for the party. Whether Chinese leaders actually seek a financial return from the Belt and Road Initiative has always been questionable—the sovereign debt of 27 BRI countries is regarded as “junk” by the three main ratings agencies, while another 14 have no rating at all.

Investment decisions often seem to be driven by geopolitical needs instead of sound financial sense. In South and Southeast Asia expensive port development is an excellent case study. A 2016 CSIS report judged that none of the Indian Ocean port projects funded through the BRI have much hope of financial success. They were likely prioritized for their geopolitical utility. Projects less clearly connected to China’s security needs have more difficulty getting off the ground: the research firm RWR Advisory Group notes that 270 BRI infrastructure projects in the region (or 32 per cent of the total value of the whole) have been put on hold because of problems with practicality or financial viability. There is a vast gap between what the Chinese have declared they will spend and what they have actually spent.

There is also a gap between how BRI projects are supposed to be chosen and how they actually have been selected. Xi and other party leaders have characterized BRI investment in Eurasia as following along defined “economic corridors” that would directly connect China to markets and peoples in other parts of the continent. By these means the party hopes to channel capital into areas where it will have the largest long-term benefit and will make cumulative infrastructure improvements possible.

Thanks to CPEC, Gwadar real estate business on the rise

Source: The News International
Published by: N/A

ISLAMABAD: The real estate business in Gwadar is attracting investors from across the country as the city is being considered a business hub in near future soon after the completion of China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC).

The Gwadar Port City is the next best destination for investment in real estate as a huge area of privately-owned land is being utilized for housing societies in the city.

Deputy Director Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), Changez Baloch told APP that real estate prices had been increased manifold during last few months.

He said that business situation in Gwadar is getting change from past, adding; many people are taking interest to invest in the city as their investment is giving good return due to sharp increase of the value of land.

He said the NOCs of all the investors who were violating the rules and regulations of GDA would be canceled, and they would not be able to start development work within the government-stipulated time frame.

He said the GDA was cooperating with investors and taking responsibility for providing municipal services in Gwadar City.

However, the development of housing schemes in the city is also causing problems for the citizens.

A resident of Gwadar Fazal Lashari said that a number of hilly mounds and rain drainage have been disappeared due to leveling of the land.

This developed land has been marked as private property schemes, he added.

Fazal said that the development work in Gwadar is at final stage, adding that everyone in the area is keen to obtain land.

Ghulam Mustafa a real state owner in Gwadar said that the GDA is creating problem in issuing of NOC for real estate investors.

Over the last year, he said the real estate prices in the area immediately surged due to infrastructure development projects being carried out as part of the CPEC.

The increasing prices have also revived the hopes of many other investors to invest in the Gwadar, he revealed.

Sharing the details of problems being faced in the area, he said that the shortage of water creates hurdles for the real estate development in Gwadar.

The developers and builders have to fetch it from Mirani Dam in Kech district, 200 kilometers from Gwadar, he added.

Samad Khan an investor alleged that some of GDA officials manipulate both land prices and allotment processes in order to benefit the people who entice them, he added.

Lamenting on the situation, Samad expressed sorrow that there are ambiguities and errors in land ownership records as the land settlement were done manually.

Media urged to play role in success of CPEC by discarding negative perception

ISLAMABAD: Local and international media have a pivotal role in ensuring successful execution of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects by discarding propaganda of anti-CPEC and anti-Pakistan elements.

CPEC has become an important element of Pak-China friendship and its success would be great depending upon the dissemination of correct information regarding the corridor,” Project Director of CPEC, Ministry of Planning, Hassan Daud Butt said while addressing an International Conference on News Agencies here on Monday.

He also stressed the need to enhance interaction with international media players for sharing the true image of Pakistan.

The two-day Conference titled “Pakistan-Media Opportunities and Challenges”, was organized by Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) here at a local hotel to establish direct and hassle-free linkages to cope with emerging competitive environment for news agencies in the world.

The conference was attended by representatives from news agencies of over 20 countries.

Hassan Butt said the government was sharing information to build a long-term and trustful relationship with media to ensure the accurate and positive reporting in this regard.

He said the government had promoted access to information by publications and websites, besides regular engagements with media (press briefings, seminars, summits).

He said besides other topics like politics etc, journalists should promote development communication in Pakistan by projecting the positive aspects of the corridor.

Giving a presentation on the current status of CPEC projects, Butt said most of the Early Harvest Projects had already been completed or were in the final stage.

He said CPEC had helped Pakistan in removing major bottlenecks in the way of the country’s economy, especially in energy and infrastructure sectors, paving the way for increased and sustainable economic growth.

“In 2013, Pakistan’s economic growth rate was around 3 percent. However, after the successful launch of CPEC, the growth rate kept on increasing and this year, the growth rate was recorded at 5.8 percent and next year’s target has been set at 6.2 percent,” he added.

The CPEC Project Director informed that the western alignment of the corridor had almost been completed while the Central route was expected to be completed by 2015.

He said work on up-gradation of railways’ Mail Line-1 project would start soon while up-gradation of ML-II and ML-III had also been included in the Long Term Plan of CPEC.

He said Gwadar was transforming into a state of the art international port city at a rapid pace and soon “we will see Gwadar as the hub of trade in the region”.

Regarding social sector and education projects, he said top ten business schools from China and Pakistan had reached an agreement for mutual cooperation and sharing the research work, done in the development sector.
He said CPEC had become a benchmark for other countries who are part of the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative.

He said the Government of Pakistan wanted to bring the country’s population out of poverty at a fast pace just like China did in the past.

To a question, Butt said CPEC would be a joint venture and will be a win-win model for the two countries as both countries will equally benefit from the project.

SOURCE: https://nation.com.pk/14-May-2018/media-urged-to-play-role-in-success-of-cpec-by-discarding-negative-perception

Gwadar: From ghost town to gold rush town

From the sky, Gwadar (gold rush town) looks like a dust bowl as the ATR aircraft, which regularly flies along the Makran coast from Karachi, circles in for landing. The new airport, currently being designed, will be the largest in Pakistan once it is completed, but for now one has to settle for the old airport. Its VIP section is used often as ministers, senators and even the prime minister and the army chief regularly visit this once sleepy fishing port. They have all proclaimed Gwadar to be the jewel of the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC).

The drive from the airport along the newly built corniche (a wide road bordering the blue sea) is promising. However, other than this new road, there is very little visible development. Billboards proclaiming future housing estates are still to be found everywhere. Land speculation is continuing at a frantic pace, with property being bought and resold at exorbitant rates. However, a recent ad taken out by the Gwadar Development Authority in one of the Urdu papers has just declared a major chunk of these “housing estates” to be fraudulent.

The vision of a city of skyscrapers rising out of the sand is still far from being realised.

“The dream of a new Dubai is downloading at the moment – we are just having connectivity problems”, joked Sajid Baloch, one of the local journalists we met.

For now, Gwadar is a thirsty gold town where electricity comes and goes and water is so scarce that the local fishermen tell me they haven’t bathed with clean water in years. The last cyclone hit Jiwani in 2007, bringing heavy rains along the coast. In the last three years, it has not rained at all, drying up the local Akra Kaur Dam, which provided drinking water to Gwadar. At the moment, everyone is dependent on tankers to fetch water from as far as the Mirani Dam in Turbat.

“Tube wells are no good here – we only get brackish water which is not even fit for bathing,” said Abdul Majid, one of the fishermen we met.

Fishermen in Gwadar complain about lack of electricity and water

There is garbage everywhere, for no one comes to collect it and the wind whips it up. Gwadar means “door of winds” in the local language, and there is always a breeze on the hammer head shaped peninsula jutting into the Arabian Sea.

We walk around the old part of town the next day – the roads are full of potholes and there are demolished buildings everywhere. It is disappointing to re-visit the oldest and most historical part of Gwadar (gold town), the Ismaili quarter. It has fallen further into disrepair, and it seems almost all the Ismaili families (followers of the Aga Khan), who had been living here for four generations, have now moved abroad.

The crumbling old Ismaili quarter

The multi-storied buildings, which could easily be restored, with their wind catchers and wooden balconies, are now rotting away. The 16th century Portuguese watchtower, made of sturdy coral bricks, is still intact, but the staircase leading up to the rusted canon is boarded up. Near the tower is the Ismaili Jamaat Khana, which was built in 1805, and one can still see the Portuguese influence in the architecture. The building is well maintained but padlocked – it only opens up during prayer timings.

The Portuguese watchtower in the old part of Gwadar

Gwadar has always had an interesting history. Long after the Portuguese left in the 16thcentury, for almost two centuries it was owned by the Sultan of Oman. In 1781, the Khan of Kalat granted an exiled prince of Muscat the revenues of Gwadar as maintenance, while he lived on the Makran coast. The prince later returned to Oman and became the Sultan, but he did not return Gwadar to Kalat. In 1839, the British conquered Kalat. After Pakistan came into being in 1947, the Pakistani government once again took up the question of the ownership of Gwadar. Finally, Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Sir Feroze Khan Noon entered into negotiations with the British, which resulted in Gwadar being returned to Pakistan in 1958.

Today, the idea is to capitalise on Gwadar’s location near the Persian Gulf and turn it into a high-tech duty free zone and regional shipping hub. The state-owned China Harbour Engineering Company Group is working at a furious pace at the deep sea port, which we visited on our last day in Gwadar.

The deep sea port

According to the Director Operations for the port, Phase I is now complete, with four ships being handled per month, and work has started on Phase II, which will see the port being expanded. With its smooth roads, greenery and signs in Chinese, the port seems like another country once you pass the security checks. The Chinese workers live in their own China Town inside the port, and in a span of just six months, they have completed a brand new Business Centre, complete with hotel rooms, an auditorium and office spaces inside the duty free zone.

The new Business Centre in the duty free zone of the port

In the lobby is a large marble mural showing the map of Asia with China in pink and Pakistan sticking out in green. A line of dots, which light up at night, show the new trade routes to be created by CPEC, from the west of China, through the high mountains, and down across Pakistan to Gwadar and beyond to the Middle East by ship.

The lobby of the Business Centre with the map of China and Pakistan

The lobby of the Business Centre with the map of China and Pakistan

The deep sea port has now been dredged to a depth of 14.5 metres, and ships are regularly coming in to berth. The people working for the Gwadar Port Authority say there has been a lot of progress in the last two years. The duty free zone opened up in January this year and already they have held a large expo at the Business Centre.

There are now two state of the art desalination plants inside the port built by the Chinese. The larger one, which can provide 254,000 gallons of clean water per day, has just signed an agreement with the Government of Balochistan to supply water at Rs0.80 a litre for the people of Gwadar (gold town). Now the tankers can fill up here and no longer need to go all the way to the Mirani Dam. The Pakistan Army is also hurriedly making a large new desalination plant with the assistance of the UAE and Swiss governments, which will provide the local people with 4.4 million gallons of water per day soon after Ramazan.

Chinese engineer sampling clean water from the new desalination plant

An imported coal-based power plant, which will supply 300MW of electricity to Gwadar (gold town), is also being constructed by the Chinese around 20 kilometres from the port. There is also talk of getting electricity from nearby Iran, and opening up the border for trade and visitors. The Army has supplemented the local hospital, bringing in specialist doctors, while the security in this area has also vastly improved.

Currently, there are security check posts all over Gwadar, and everyone carries their ID cards with them. Baloch nationalists have opposed this new development but in the last two years, the Army, which is guaranteeing security of CPEC, appears to have taken control of the area. The army officials we met during our visit all explained that Gwadar and CPEC are in fact vital to Pakistan’s future economic survival, and they are just as determined as the Chinese to ensure this dream becomes a reality.

SOURCE: https://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/66919/gwadar-from-ghost-town-to-gold-rush-town/

Pakistan puts off tax concessions for Chinese operator of Gwadar Port

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday deferred a move to give more sweeping tax concessions to Chinese operators of Gwadar Port and its free zone amid Beijing’s reservations that Islamabad was not honouring the promise of 23-year tax holiday for the port in true spirit.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi put off approval of a summary that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs tabled in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet for necessary exemptions for Gwadar Port and the Gwadar Free Zone.

The ECC constituted a committee to remove any anomalies in the proposed amendments to the Gwadar Port Concession Agreement, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after the ECC meeting.

The decision to defer concessions would also save the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as it has already tabled the amended Finance Bill 2018 in the National Assembly. More tax concessions to the Chinese will require further amendments to the bill.

The maritime ministry informed the ECC that Chinese operators of Gwadar Port were facing problems due to ambiguity in rules and laws about the nature of tax concessions.

Three years ago, Pakistan had approved a 23-year tax holiday for the China-run Gwadar Port in an attempt to make the deep-sea Arabian port a hub of commercial activities.

The original Gwadar Port Concession Agreement was signed between the Gwadar Port Authority and Port of Singapore Authority, which the ECC approved in 2007. In February 2013, China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited (COPHCL) took over operations of the port from the Singaporean company.

However, COPHCL contends that tax exemptions Pakistan has so far given are not “in true spirit of the tax holiday”, said officials who have been engaged with Chinese officials.

In April 2015, the ECC decided to extend the tax holiday for Gwadar Port and the Gwadar Port Free Zone from 20 years to 23 years on an understanding that the 23-year period will come into effect from 2007.

But China has now demanded that the tax holiday should be applied from 2013 instead of 2007. This would allow Chinese firms to enjoy tax-free status till 2036, even beyond the scope of China-Pakistan Long-Term Plan of CPEC that will end in 2030.

Earlier, the three-year extension had been given on the request of COPHCL.

Gwadar Port is described as the most significant strategic pearl in China’s plan of expanding its influence in the Arabian Sea – a move that India sees as a threat to its hegemonic designs.

Industrial units to be set up in the Gwadar Free Zone, being established over an area of 46,000 acres, are already entitled to the tax holiday.

However, now COPHCL has demanded that the SROs issued to give effect to these exemptions should be “notified in proper perspective as negotiated by COPHCL while negotiating the Gwadar Port Free Zone Lease Deed, which was signed during the visit of Chinese president in April 2015.”

The Chinese company has also demanded exemption from income tax on interests that Chinese lenders will earn by giving loans for port operations, according to FBR officials. They said the FBR was not keen to give that concession.

COPHCL has demanded that the concessions available to it should also be extended to its four companies. These companies are China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan Private Limited, Gwadar International Terminals Limited, Gwadar Marine Services Limited and Gwadar Free Zone Company Limited.

Sources said PM Abbasi wanted the decision on further concessions to be left to the new government. The FBR was of the view that in order to give legal cover to the concessions, amendments would be required in the Income Tax Ordinance, which can be done next year.

Despite securing exemption from sales tax on local purchases by the Chinese companies operating in the Gwadar zone, the Chinese are now demanding sales tax concessions for imports made by the Chinese firms.

The Chinese have also sought sales tax and customs duty exemption for the supply of diesel, petrol and other petroleum products for 40 years.

The government has given massive customs duty exemption to COPHCL and its subsidiary companies. Against the previously approved exemption on ships used in the port and terminals, the maritime ministry on Thursday demanded customs duty exemption for all visiting ships including foreign and local fishing vessels at Gwadar Port.

It has already got customs duty exemption for all businesses to be established in the Gwadar Free Zone. COPHCL now wants to set up a duty-free shop in the zone.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1712893/2-pakistan-puts-off-tax-concession-chinese-operator-gwadar-port/

Gwadar opens new avenues of business, jobs

ISLAMABAD: Once an ignored tiny indolent fishing town located at the Arabian Sea in Balochistan, Gwadar has now witnessed a wave of development projects that is opening new avenues of jobs and business opportunities for locals and will lay a strong infrastructural foundation for the country’s future.

From 2013, the deep-water port is making its new identity. It has become fully functional since late 2016. Its free zone first phase and business centre have been constructed within an astonishing six months earlier this year and embraced its first liner in March. Now, people in the remote Gwadar could also enjoy speedy 4G mobile connection to interact with the rest of the world.

4G services launched in Gwadar

According to the port operator China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), some 20 companies in different businesses have already joined the Gwadar free zone with direct investment of 3.0 billion Chinese yuan, or some $460 million. The annual output could reach more than 5.0 billion yuan after full operation of the enterprises.

Abdul Ghaffar, owner of a grocery shop and a restaurant near Gwadar port area, enjoys the development of the port.

“Around 150 people come to my restaurant for lunch and as many for dinner. In the past, my sale was very low, but now my earning has become better and I have also extended my business. In the past, I used to open my shop and restaurant occasionally when the port opened in 2008, but now I don’t close my shop because work is in progress continuously.”

MoU inked to address water shortage in Gwadar

Ghaffar, who came to Gwadar for a better future from Quetta in 2008, said, “I have seen a big change here. There was nothing in this area, but now several buildings have been built all around. Whenever there was rain, all ways were blocked here, but now things have changed. They (Chinese) have made a big thing from nothing.”

Ghaffar is an early bird who came to Gwadar. Now, thousands of people have migrated from across the country to Gwadar to grab emerging business and jobs opportunities since the launch of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Gwadar’s population has increased from some 85,000 in 2007 to 138,000 currently. The amount of mobile SIM cards issued in the area also jumped from about 100,000 chips to over 200,000.

Rahab Ali Meerani is a laborer who travelled some 1,080 kilometres from Shikarpur district in southern Sindh province to work on a project in Gwadar port.

Chinese Red Cross medical team to arrive soon

“I came here because in our area wages are not as high as in Gwadar.”

He added, “Chinese companies are coming to Pakistan and starting projects which are bringing a great support to poor people. Now, the poverty is being eliminated.”

“There was a lot of unemployment in Gwadar, there was only fishing work, which is not a regular job. Now people are getting a variety of jobs and they are very happy,” said Muhammad Ibrahim, a worker in Gwadar, adding, “I am very happy because this area is being developed. Some people say there is no development, but actually, development is taking place.”

Ibrahim has started learning the Chinese language to advance his contacts with Chinese people.

Gwadar ignites spark for science, discovery

Gwadar’s local people are also feeling the development impetus triggered by the rapidly developing port, construction of new roads, laying of new sewerage lines, establishment and upgrading of educational institutions and hospitals, construction of a new airport and installation of water purification plants in Gwadar due to CPEC.

Javed Mehmood, a local fisherman whose family is in the fishing business for almost one century, highlighted several development projects in Gwadar and said that “the port has developed, roads are being constructed, a road has linked Gwadar with China. First, we had only one hospital named Civil Hospital, now another hospital has been established.”

“Three people from my area now have got jobs at the port, possibly around two to three people from every area got jobs,” said Mehmood, who wished that all people in Gwadar get employed.

Gwadar port aims to become new Dubai

Liaqat Muhammad, who works in a fish preservation unit, also enjoys the development as their business has multiplied after the construction of a road linking Gwadar with Karachi, the country’s southern port city.

“Now, the road infrastructure has improved and we can send fresh fish outside. The distance we covered in 24 hours in the past, can be covered in six to seven hours now,” Muhammad added.

Muhammad couldn’t have a chance to visit the newly constructed port area, but he has watched many videos related to the port development and activities.

“A lot of development works are taking place here. Imports and exports are in progress at the port, expo centre has started. I have not visited the port yet, but I have seen the development through videos on my mobile,” said Muhammad.

CPEC starts bearing fruit for people

“In one or two years, our fish containers will be exported from the Gwadar port.”

Availability of the potable water is a common issue in Gwadar, and almost every person, whom Xinhua talked to, pinned his hope on China to solve their water issue. And the COPHC has signed a contract with the Balochistan government to provide clean drinking water to Gwadar.

Zulfiqar Bajwa, a tourist who came to Gwadar with his family from Karachi, told Xinhua, “I have come here to see the port because international focus is on it. As we have seen it, it will be one of the biggest ports in the world.”

“The future of our generations depends on it (Gwadar). When it will be completed, Pakistan’s status will increase in the world. It will bring great benefits to the Pakistani nation through industrialization,” said Bajwa.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1710317/1-gwadar-opens-new-avenues-business-jobs/

Gwadar port aims to become a new Dubai

For over a decade, Pakistani officials have dreamed of transforming the small but strategically located fishing port of Gwadar into a duty-free port and free economic zone – Pakistan’s answer to Dubai.

The aim is for Gwadar – located on the Arabian Sea near Iran and the mouth of the Persian Gulf – to become a regional commercial, industrial and shipping hub, as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The corridor is designed to give China a shorter, more secure trading route, via Pakistan, to the Middle East and beyond, while also boosting Pakistan’s economy.

Right now, however, the dusty “next Dubai” on Pakistan’s coast resembles the original mainly in one respect – it doesn’t have much water.

“It hasn’t rained here for the last three years,” explains a local journalist, Sajid Baloch.

Abdul Rahim, who works for the Gwadar Development Authority, under the provincial government of Balochistan, said climate change is playing a role in Gwadar’s thirst.

“I would say because of climate change the rains have stopped – it used to rain much more often and in every season. Now Gwadar is facing severe water issues. There is no fresh water here,” Rahim said.

Nearby Akra Kaur reservoir dried up two years ago, and water must now be brought from a more distant source, he said. Some of the water coming in is contaminated, leading to an increase in waterborne illnesses such as hepatitis, he added.

Tapping groundwater isn’t a solution. “There is no point in digging wells as the underground water is all brackish,” Rahim said.

Growing fast

Right now, the Gwadar peninsula – a hammerhead-shaped projection of land into the Arabian Sea – is home to about 100,000 people, following completion of the first phase of the port development.

But as development continues, the area’s population is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2020, according to the port authority’s website.

On one side of the peninsula is the deep-sea port, built by the Chinese state-owned China Overseas Holding Company. On the other side lies the local harbor.

Fishing was Gwadar’s main economic activity before the port started operations, and some local people say they so far see little benefit in the government’s grand plans.

“We are dying from thirst, there are no doctors in our hospitals, the electricity comes and goes and there is garbage everywhere as no one collects it,” complained Rasool Bux, a fisherman who lives near the harbor.

“First fix all these problems. Then develop this dream of Dubai,” he urged.

Bux said most in the town get their water from tankers that make the two-hour drive from Mirani Dam. But the tankers only come once or twice a month to his area, Bux said, and shortages are common.

Muhammad Ali Kakar, the province’s planning and development secretary, told a government committee in December that the total demand for water in Gwadar city was 6.5 million gallons a day, but tankers supplied only 2 million gallons.

Satisfying thirst

To help solve the water shortages two desalination plants have been built in the port, with Chinese expertise. The smaller can provide 200,000 gallons of potable water per day to the port, while the larger one, recently completed in the adjacent duty-free zone, can supply double that amount.

Both plants rely on power from generators, as there is not enough grid power in Gwadar to run them, said Sajjd H Baloch, the director general of Gwadar Development Authority.

Some fishermen say they now buy clean drinking water from the port, paying up to Rs50 for a three-liter can.

Gul Mohammed, the operations director for the port authority, said his agency was willing to supply clean water outside the port and duty-free zone, but would need to be paid to produce it.

“We are willing to provide water from the larger plant to the city of Gwadar at the rate of Rs0.98 per gallon, but the Government of Balochistan has to sign an agreement with us,” he said.

The provincial government is reluctant to accept the offer, hoping for rains this year to fill the Akra Kaur dam, Rahim said.

The Pakistani army, tasked with protecting the CPEC project, meanwhile, also has laid the foundation for a large desalination plant to be built with help from the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland.

The plant, to be completed by July, will provide 4.4 million gallons of water a day, free of cost, to the inhabitants of Gwadar city, according to an army press release.

Providing better services, including clean drinking water, is seen as a way of helping win local support for the development push – and to help quell an ongoing insurgency by Baloch separatists in the province.

As part of the winning-hearts effort, the army also has brought in specialist doctors to supplement those already working at the local government-run hospital.

A new road will soon connect the port to the Makran Coastal Highway, which links Gwadar to Karachi. Gwadar’s new airport will be Pakistan’s largest when it is complete.

The China Power Company also plans to open a 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant around 20km (12 miles) from the port to provide electricity to Gwadar.

Meanwhile, tourism has started too, and the port is increasingly bustling with visitors.

“Certainly the security in Gwadar has improved considerably in the last two years. I would say that, given all the recent development, the dream of Dubai will be realised in a decade or so,” said Munir Ahmed, a port security officer.

 

SOURCE: https://www.geo.tv/latest/192482-gwadar-port-aims-to-become-a-new-dubai

Zong 4G services launched in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD– In a positive development, Pakistan’s largest telecom network Zong 4G has launched its operations in the port city of Gwadar, a future international business hub which has already seen foreign and local investment amounting to billions of dollars and rupees.

The launch of fastest 4G services in Gwadar implies that foreign citizens from across the globe and local residents who have been pursuing their respective business endeavours in the port city will have unhindered access to the fastest 4G technology against the reasonably affordable tariff.

The move is likely to boost online businesses in the fast developing international city and the adjoining belt of rural Sindh.

With its 4G consumer-base already having exceeded the 6 million mark, Zong eyes to keep expanding its matchless voice and data services.

“Zong 4G’s network expansion symbolises our customer-centric approach to ensure that the interests of consumers stay above all the rest by offering the best and affordable network,” the

telecom company said in a statement.

“We keep expanding our operational portfolio to ensure enhanced operations in cities, towns, villages, and far-flung areas,” it said.

The ongoing momentum of the rapid network expansion implies that Zong 4G continues to invest heavily in modernisation of the mobile network to respond to growing market needs.

Innovation, performance and reliability have long been Zong’s hallmark. The No.1 Data Company of Pakistan epitomises professional excellence and digitised supremacy coupled with its customer-oriented policies with an aim to deliver the best but at highly affordable rates.

The services will be offered at affordable rates, it said.

“Massive network expansion symbolises our customer-centric approach to ensure that the interests of consumers stay above all the rest by offering them best and affordable network,”

Zong 4G said. “We keep expanding our operational portfolio to ensure enhanced operations in cities, towns, villages, and far-flung areas,” it added.

SOURCE: https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/zong-4g-extends-pakistan-operations-to-gwadar/

Political squabbling hit Gwadar Port City development

QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo has said that the provincial government is forced to take loan for the development of Gwadar Port City as the federal government has yet to release the promised Rs1 billion for the project.

“Neglecting Balochistan is tantamount to neglecting Pakistan as the country’s development depends on our province,” said Balochistan CM while talking to the media after an open court at the CM House on Friday.

PTI moves resolutions seeking PM apology over Sanjrani remarks

Bizenjo said, “Our differences with the federal government should not interfere with the provincial development.”

Lamenting the federal government’s reckless behaviour in releasing funds for Balochistan’s development, Bizenjo said, “The federal government pledged Rs1 billion for Gwadar Port City but the amount has yet to be released. The developmental projects are being completed by taking loans from donors because we want to provide relief to the people of Balochistan in line with the promise we made to them.”

He said, “Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should think about the whole country and keep political differences aside.”

Bizenjo – a man of substance

Regretting over the PM’s remarks against the Senate chairman, the Balochistan CM said, “Abbasi’s statement against Sadiq Sanjrani has astonished the people of Balochistan.”

On new appointments of candidates who passed the National Testing Service (NTS) test, Bizenjo said, “Appointment orders of successful candidates will be issued this week. We have pledged to provide jobs on merit, but unfortunately we are being held responsible for the previous regime’s mismanagement.”

The chief minister said, “If we had a competent regime in the past, today Balochistan would have depicted a better picture. Those who were involved in corruption are holding us responsible for mass joblessness.”

Bizenjo for eliminating joblessness, poverty

Sharing his views on the newly formed Balochistan Awami Party, the CM said, “The new party is a gift for the people of Balochistan as the province needs new leadership to address the myriad of issues existing in Balochistan. I will announce my joining of the party.”

Gwadar and Chabahar different since inception: Manish Tewari

WASHINGTON: Former Union Minister of State in India, Manish Tewari has made comparisons between Gwadar port in Pakistan and Chabahar port in Iran, stating that Gwadar is a long-term strategic venture by Pakistan and China, whereas Chabahar is an entirely commercial enterprise by Iran and India.

The geopolitically instrumental port of Gwadar in southern Balochistan province is being built with the help of China under a multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Chabahar port in Iran is being considered by India, Iran and Afghanistan as a gateway to major opportunities for trade with central Asian countries, and also to counter the increasing military and economic cooperation between Pakistan and China in the region.

“One thing which needs to be very clearly understood is that Chabahar port is a commercial enterprise and Gwadar port is a strategic military enterprise. There is a distinction between as to why two projects have been conceived,” Tewari said yesterday while addressing an event organised by the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank.

Similarly, China–Pakistan Economic Corridor is not a connectivity project, the Congress leader asserted, adding that it is a strategic project by which China seeks access to the Arabian Sea and surmount the Straits of Malacca through Gwadar and entire CPEC paradigm. “As such, there is no comparison between Gwadar and Chabahar,” he added.

“And if you couple that with the kind of things that the Chinese have been attempting to do in the Indian Ocean, the influence that they’ve been trying to exert on Sri Lanka, with the developments which they are currently playing themselves out in the Maldives, it does not go well for the region,” he said.

“And therefore, the United States will have to make some hard choices,” the Congress leader said, indicating that the hard choice is a short-term accommodation with Iran. “Those are the hard conversations which the US needs to start having with itself,” he said. “And therefore, at some point in time hard decisions and clear choices need to be made,” said Tewari, a distinguished Senior Fellow at the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council.

Chief Advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Dr Mohammad H Qayoumi, said this is for the first time in a 100 years that Central Asian countries look at Afghanistan as part of that entity. “We are becoming part of that economic ecosystem,” he said.

“We started an air corridor with New Delhi that has been very successful. We are looking at expanding that to Mumbai this year as well as the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and even Indonesia all who have shown interest,” Qayoumi said.

Source: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/02/gwadar-and-chabahar-different-since-inception-manish-tewari/