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CPEC is here to stay

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cpec-china-pakistanIndeed the impetuous Narendra Modi, desperate as he is over his inability to suppress the ongoing anti-India uprising in Occupied Kashmir by brute force, has received a matching riposte to his reckless take on Gilgit-Baltistan.

‘Let Modi and RAW know that our borders are secure. We know our enemy and its conspiracies and we will leave no stone unturned to defeat those plots’. That was CoAS General Raheel Sharif at the concluding session of a two-day seminar on CPEC at Gilgit on Thursday.

The Indian prime minister’s impetuosity, clearly reflected by his Independence Day speech, had heightened all the more also for the then impending visit of his defence minister to Washington and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled arrival in New Delhi. Notwithstanding India’s anxiety over unabated Kashmiri uprising in the Valley, the New Delhi rulers are dangerously bending backward with a view to assuring the Americans of their complete support against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

That is something which readily sells with the United States – Washington would welcome it wholeheartedly because it so aptly fits into its policy to contain a rising China. And India also occasionally undergoes twitches of revenge for its defeat in the border conflict with Chairman Mao’s army in the Himalayas in 1962. As a part of the CPEC runs through Gilgit-Baltistan the Indian strategists find it expedient to sow fear of instability because of the project.

But that’s not going to work – it were the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who took the lead in overthrowing the pro-India Dogra regime in 1948, and their determination to do more in that respect remains unrelenting. If India thinks it can create unrest and dissatisfaction among the people of Gilgit and Balistan over the CPEC it is sadly mistaken. Not only are the people of the region fully committed to the safety and security of the corridor, the army has also created a special force for its protection.

The connectivity of Gilgit-Baltistan region with China lends it the right potential to develop like the adjacent Chinese cities. Referring to his recent visit to China, General Sharif informed the audience that the Chinese leadership wanted the Northern Areas of Pakistan to be similar to their city of Urumqi. “I have no doubt we can make that kind of progress in our region too,” he said. He also announced initiation of work on a technical institute and a campus of NUST in Gilgit.

Not too unexpectedly the timing of General Raheel Sharif’s warning to defend and secure the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is quite coincidental to what may appear to be gathering of a storm on the horizon. Of course within the national borders the armed forces have almost succeeded in eliminating the threat of terrorism. And this has taken place unlike any other place, be it the Middle East or any other part of the world.

Pakistan forces had to win against the curse of terrorism because there was no option to it, and they did it. Because it was “war of our survival and we will fight it like this,” the army chief told the seminar. Not only have the tribal areas been cleansed of hordes of extremists and terrorists, the forces have also succeeded in ‘eliminating the footprints of Daesh’ from Pakistan.

In a media briefing the other day, ISPR chief Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa said the Daesh did sneak into Pakistan, but it was confronted with full force and destroyed. But for the timely action against it there was the possibility its members and affiliates would have attacked some vital locations like the Foreign Office, some foreign missions and the Islamabad airport.

But, much to the disappointment of Pakistanis the United States, perhaps in cahoots with forces that want to weaken Pakistan, tends to see it through the Indian lens – or through its own anti-China prism. What to say of John Kerry, who never tires of talking of global peace and nation-building, would like to create a US-India-Afghanistan alliance to subvert the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

And his colleague, defence secretary Ash Carter, has already signed up a logistic exchange agreement with India. Given his diplomatic undertone our Foreign Office spokesman on this was much less assertive. But he did convey quite unequivocally that the said arrangements do contribute to polarising the region by disturbing the strategic balance in South Asia.

Not only would they trigger arms race in the region, such highly unsavoury developments would also exacerbate tensions between the region’s two nuclear rivals. One hopes Washington would like to see through the India antics and avoid raising tensions in South Asia.

Source: Business Recorder

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Economics

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