Thursday, September 21, 2017

Naela Quadri Baloch speaking at UKPNP event

Naela Quadri Baloch speaking at United Kashmir People's National Party  UKPNP organised event in Geneva

Beijing Adopts New Tactic for S. China Sea Claims

'Four Sha' island groups replace illegal 9-Dash Line

Getty Images


BY: Bill Gertz  
September 21, 2017 5:00 am

The Chinese government recently unveiled a new legal tactic to promote Beijing's aggressive claim to own most of the strategic South China Sea.

The new narrative that critics are calling "lawfare," or legal warfare, involves a shift from China's so-called "9-Dash Line" ownership covering most of the sea.

The new lawfare narrative is called the "Four Sha"—Chinese for sand—and was revealed by Ma Xinmin, deputy director general in the Foreign Ministry's department of treaty and law, during a closed-door meeting with State Department officials last month.

China has claimed three of the island chains in the past and recently added a fourth zone in the northern part of the sea called the Pratas Islands near Hong Kong.

The other locations are the disputed Paracels in the northwestern part and the Spratlys in the southern sea. The fourth island group is located in the central zone and includes Macclesfield Bank, a series of underwater reefs and shoals.

China calls the island groups Dongsha, Xisha, Nansha, and Zhongsha, respectively.

Ma, the Foreign Ministry official, announced during the meetings in Boston on Aug. 28 and 29 that China is asserting sovereignty over the Four Sha through several legal claims. He stated the area is China's historical territorial waters and also part of China's 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone that defines adjacent zones as sovereign territory. Beijing also claims ownership by asserting the Four Sha are part of China's extended continental shelf.

U.S. officials attending the session expressed surprise at the new Chinese ploy to seek control over the sea as something not discussed before.

State Department spokesman Justin Higgins said the department does not comment on diplomatic discussions.

The United States, he said, has a longstanding global policy of not adopting positions on competing sovereignty claims over land features in the South China Sea.

"The United States does take principled positions, and has been clear and consistent, that maritime claims by all countries in the South China Sea and around the world must be made and pursued in accordance with the international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention," Higgins said.

All the islands are claimed by other states in the region, including Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as by China.

The United States does not recognize China's control over the island groups and insists the sea, which sees an annual transit of an estimated $3.37 trillion in trade, is international.

The Pentagon and State Department have said the South China Sea is international waters and that American vessels and aircraft will transit the area unimpeded by Chinese claims of control.

The State Department in December formally protested China's unlawful maritime claims in a diplomatic note.

The Trump administration's recent focus on pressuring North Korea to denuclearize has given China a green light to step up its South China Sea control efforts.

Chinese coast guard and navy vessels successfully blocked the Philippines from repairing a runway on one of the Spratly islands, and in July China pressured Vietnam into halting natural gas drilling in the Paracels.

The Chinese Four Sha legal maneuver follows the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in July 2016 that legally nullified China's claim to historically own all waters and territory within the Nine-Dash Line.

The international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines government, which disputed the Chinese claim to the Spratlys.

The tribunal noted "there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources," according to a statement by the court last year.

China has rejected the international ruling, which has the force of international law.

Michael Pillsbury, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Center for Chinese Strategy, said the latest maritime maneuver by the Chinese is lawfare—one of China's three information warfare tools. The two others are media warfare and psychological warfare.

Pillsbury noted that the U.S. government lacks both legal warfare and counter legal warfare capabilities.

"The Chinese government seems to be better organized to design and implement clever legal tactics to defy international norms with impunity," Pillsbury said.

"It may ultimately require congressional legislation to mandate our executive branch to build a better capacity to counter the Chinese use of lawfare," he added. "If we had such a unit, it would be easy to counter China, especially when we have the United Nations on our side."

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, said if confirmed the Four Sha program appears to be "Beijing's next logical step in their ‘salami slicing,' asserting the PRC's claims to the South China Sea."

"Given that an announcement of claims to the entirety of the Nine-Dash Line raised alarms throughout the region, it makes sense for the PRC Foreign Ministry to float this notion of an incremental step forward with the concept of the Four Sha approach to the eventual restoration of the entirety of the South China Sea."

Fanell said the Trump administration should first remind Beijing and the rest of the world about the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that found China's sovereignty claims to the sea both illegal and illegitimate.

"Second, the U.S. would do well to permanently deploy a carrier or expeditionary strike group to the South China Sea in order to make sure Beijing knows that our words are backed up by more than mere words," he said.

The United States has been pushing back against China's maritime claims in the sea by conducting Navy warship freedom of navigation operations around the disputed islands.

The naval operations were stalled during the Obama administration in a bid to avoid upsetting China. Under President Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, warship freedom of navigation operations have resumed with regularity but without formal public acknowledgement of the operations.

In August, the destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed with 12 miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratlys, drawing criticism from China.

China denounced the warship passage as a provocation and violation of Chinese sovereignty.

China over the past several years has reclaimed some 3,200 acres of islands in the sea and in recent months began militarizing the islands with missile emplacements and other military facilities.

China also created a new governing unit over the sea called the Sansha administration in 2012. Sansha, or Three Sha, includes the Paracels, Macclesfield Bank, and the Spratlys and covered a total of 20 square kilometers of land, more than 2 million square kilometers of water, and a population of around 2,500 people.

A State Department notice at the end of what was billed as an annual U.S.-China Dialogue on the Law of the Sea and Polar Issues made no mention of the new Chinese lawfare tactic.

The statement said only that officials from foreign affairs and maritime agencies "exchanged views on a wide range of issues related to oceans, the law of the sea, and the polar regions."

The U.S. delegation was led by Evan Bloom, State Department director for ocean and polar affairs in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Bloom declined to comment on the talks.

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EU worries over Greek asset sales to non-European investors

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s 13 September call for “investment screening” has raised new concerns in Athens as the country battles to meet the demands of its European creditors through the privatisation of state-owned commercial organisations.

In a wide ranging speech, Juncker said: “If a foreign state-owned company wants to purchase a European harbour, part of our energy infrastructure or a defense technology firm, this should only happen in transparency, with scrutiny and debate. It is a political responsibility to know what is going on in our own backyard so we can protect our collective security if needed.”

Given Greece has sold both its major ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, as well as part of its electricity network, to foreign firms and is looking for an investor in the Hellenic Vehicle Industry, Juncker’s remarks resonate strongly in Greece.

A few days prior, visiting French President Emmanuel Macron, had argued in Athens the Eurozone had been wrong not to pay more attention to which investors Greece had sold its assets in recent years. “We should not push Greece to choose non-European investments,” he said.

Most obvious concern for the European Union is the growing presence of China in Greece and other parts of Southeastern Europe.

Recently an independent report by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) authored by economic analyst Jens Bastian, examined the evolving “Balkan Silk Road,” which has seen Chinese interest and investment in Greece, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina increase.

As part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to expand China’s trade links around the world, Beijing has purchased infrastructure, set up bank branches and provided loans in all of these countries.

In Greece, China’s most obvious presence, is through shipping giant Cosco, in the port of Piraeus. But there are others.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras dismisses concerns about Chinese investment in Greece admiring Beijing’s approach and clear strategy regarding what it wants to achieve.

Germany is also uncomfortable about China’s inroads in that country, after China’s Midea’s EUR4.5bn ($5bn) takeover of German industrial robotics firm Kuka. Germany wanted to stop it but gave way to “a free market” posture.

Rising apprehension on the part of the EU about Chinese investments centers on fears China’s dominance in key industries could lead to protectionist practices in the future, the dominant role of the Chinese state in investments, a lack of transparency, different values and concern that sensitive infrastructure or technology could end up in non-EU hands.

There is also a growing feeling EU investors encounter obstacles in countries like China, that do not exist for those seeking to invest in Europe.

As a result, the EU is now trying to find a way to avoid acting as Juncker termed “naive free traders.” His proposal about investment screening was a step in this direction.

Juncker’s proposal foresees a European framework being created but for the screening process to be carried out by the member-states. Under this framework, EU members would screen investments on several grounds, including security and reciprocity.

For now, while there are worries about China or other state-led investors gaining a foothold in the EU, for many like Greece, Beijing has proved a vital source of investment when financing from others has dried up.

Bastian points out China has the financial capacity, the risk appetite and a long-term investment strategy in Greece and has established a credible track record vis-a-vis Greek political authorities and the Athens business community.

As Macron said during his visit to Athens at the beginning of September, if Europeans are unable to take the place of non-EU investors this would imply a “lack of faith in Europe.”

Posted 21 September 2017

US the likely loser of trade war with China

By KEN MOAKSEPTEMBER 21, 2017 1:25 PM (UTC+8)560

As indicated in a previous article, an all-out trade war between China and the US over North Korea’s nuclear program would trigger a global economic and geopolitical tsunami, possibly sending the US economy into a repeat of the 1930s-era Great Depression while at the same time  raising geopolitical tensions.

In spite of President Donald Trump’s boast that the US economy has never been better, its growth rate is expected to fall during the next two years largely because of insufficient domestic demand. This week at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump also threatened North Korea with total annihilation if it does not give up its nuclear-weapons program.


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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is equally belligerent, threatening to test more missiles in the future. China has responded by saying the two sides’ threats and rhetoric will not solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

So why is Trump, through his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, threatening to stop trading with nations (that is, China) that do business with North Korea? One major reason may be that some in the US believe that China can be coerced into supporting the US hardline policy against Pyongyang because a trade war could topple the Communist regime in Beijing.

Reviewing the argument for a trade war

Proponents of a trade war would argue that because China sends 18% of its exports to the US, the former would suffer the most harm. Their conclusion is probably based on the assumption that since exports account for 20% of its gross domestic product, China’s economy would  shrink by 4 percentage points (18% times 20%) in a trade war. According to these analysts, a US embargo of Chinese exports would reduce China’s annual GDP growth rate to 2.7% or less.

According to this crowd, the Communist Party’s sole legitimacy in governing China is its ability to facilitate and promote economic growth. So they reason that if the economy is stagnating or collapsing, the people will turn against the ruling party.

While it is true that the party’s overwhelming support (85% according to a Pew Poll) is derived from its good economic management, that is true for all governments or political parties. Bill Clinton defeated George H W Bush in the 1992 US presidential election because of the tanking economy. In 2016, Trump gained support from displaced workers because he promised them employment.

But for such a collapse to happen, all Chinese factories that do business with US enterprises would have to be shut, the laid-off workers have no alternative means of earning a living, and the government fail to help them. These are highly unlikely scenarios in view of China’s history of addressing economic headwinds.

During the global financial crisis that began in 2007, the vast majority of the estimated 23 million laid-off Chinese workers returned to their homes in the countryside. During this “home sojourn” period, many  went on to establish small businesses, tended farms or found employment near home, fostering a mini economic rejuvenation in some rural areas.

The Chinese government also stepped in quickly with a huge stimulus package of US$580 billion, or 14% of the country’s GDP at the time. The money was largely spent on employment-creation programs such as rebuilding in the earthquake region in Sichuan province, environmental upgrades, and helping workers establish their own businesses. The economy reversed its downward trajectory and recorded an average annual growth rate of almost 10% between 2009 and 2014.

What’s more, not all factories catering to the US market shut down, though some downsized. Most of them successfully scrambled to find other markets, domestic and foreign.

China’s huge domestic market


China has a population of more than 1.35 billion, and according to US-based consultancies, its urban middle class (those earning between $8,000 and $34,000 per year with net assets of $36,000) will surge past 550 million by 2020, thanks to urbanization.

In addition, there are hundreds of millions more living in the countryside who could be categorized as middle class. They have little debt compared with their counterparts in the US.

Last but not least, Chinese consumers save 26% of their disposable income compared with the US savings rate of around 5%.

Urbanization has transformed China’s consumption stance. Moving hundreds of millions of people from villages to cities will increase the consumption-to-GDP ratio. In fact it already has, rising from 34% in the early 2010s to above 60% in 2016. The new urban dwellers must buy food, appliances, furniture and other household goods and services. In the villages, they grew food, made their own clothing, and bought a minimal amount of household goods.

Given the enormous consumption power and a government with a proven record of stepping in to reverse economic plights, the Chinese economy should be able to withstand a trade war with its biggest trading partner.

Plan B: the Road and Belt Initiative

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcements of rejuvenating the ancient Silk Road trade route with what became the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund in 2013 might have been more than just means to sustain economic growth or establish an outlet for industrial overcapacity. He might have foreseen that trade relations with the West and Japan could become confrontational.

To protect their own domestic markets, the US, the European Union and Japan have refused to grant China market-economy status as required by World Trade Organization rules. What’s more, China is at the receiving end of most of the developed economies’ anti-dumping measures, as they accuse it of selling products such as steel at below cost or applying unfair subsidies.

Instead of taking ownership of the consequences created by the US-originated 2007 financial crisis and undertaking structural-change decisions, some US politicians and officials blamed China. Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the US Federal Reserve, blamed “cheap Chinese money” for the financial crisis instead of reckless US financial management and unsustainable fiscal and monetary policies.

It was US businesses’ decision to abandon or minimize manufacturing to earn higher returns on capital and reduce pollution that hollowed the sector. Spending money on automation or innovation is the major culprit responsible for increasing unemployment in the US.

Meanwhile the BRI went on to promote trade between China and more than 60 countries straddling the massive Eurasian landmass, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Last year, more than 130 nations and organizations including the US and its closest allies attended the BRI Forum held in Beijing.

Two-way trade between China and the countries participating in the BRI was valued at nearly $1 trillion in 2016. Should that trend continue, the figure could grow to between $4 trillion and $8 trillion over the next 10 years. A major factor supporting such a prediction is that China is making good on its pledge to invest $1 trillion in the countries that participate in the BRI, building infrastructures and businesses and increasing connectivity.

Most likely scenario

In view of the above analysis, China would likely emerge from a US-initiated trade war stronger than it is today. Its huge domestic market (larger than the West and Japan combined) could consume most if not all of the products made by its factories. As well, its trade relations and volumes with countries in Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia and other regions are on the rise.

China has also shown resilience in withstanding US opposition postures. The US disallowing Chinese participation in the international space program backfired, culminating in China building its own. Barring Chinese enterprises from buying US technology firms has prompted China to increase spending on research and development, resulting in closing the innovation gap sooner rather than later.

For reasons indicated in the previous article, a trade war could push the US and the world into a recession or depression. This might be the reason Trump struck a more conciliatory tone toward China in his UN General Assembly speech and may not follow through with the trade-war threat

Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo Attracts Hundreds of Overseas Enterprises

Russia - English 


The Organizing Committee of Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo

04:20 BST

DONGGUAN, China, Sept. 21, 2017/PRNewswire/ -- On September 21, over 1,600 enterprises from 56 countries and regions came with a fascinating mix of products including Russian honey, Polish dairy products, Vietnam coffee and Spanish olive for showcasing at 2017 Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo in Dongguan, Guangdong, seeking to promote cultural exchanges and commercial cooperation.

The Expo, an important platform for Guangdong to contribute to China's Belt and Road Initiative, has been held for four straight years. According to the organizing committee, this year's Expo is the biggest ever held as it covers an area of 100,000 m2, up from 70,000 m2 last year. And the event has attracted 1,134 overseas exhibitors, accounting for over 60 percent of a total of 1682 exhibitors. The newcomers this year are enterprises from Iran, Romania, Russia and Mongolia.

In addition, the Expo attracts trade associations from over 30 countries and regions, including South Africa, Vietnamand Malaysia, a number of national chambers of commerce such as China General Chamber of Commerce, China Commerce Association for General Merchandise, as well as multinational retailing giants like Walmart and Carrefour. The organizing committee estimated that the number of professional buyers participating in this year's event would exceed 30,000.

This year's Expo consists of one theme exhibition and six professional exhibitions. It is worth noting that showcasing of the cooperation between Guangdong and island countries in the South Pacific and the successful outcomes achieved in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, has been added to the theme exhibition for the first time. This aims to highlight Guangdong's role and progress as an essential part of the Belt and Road Initiative and presents commercial opportunities for enterprises. The Expo has evolved into a strong driver for trade and cultural exchanges during the past four years as it gives countries along the Maritime Silk Road full access to channels and information in terms of investment, exchanges and cooperation, said Wang Yongqing, deputy director of the provincial information office. Data released by the organizing committee indicates that last year's Expo attracted a crowd of 139,000 audiences, and signed 700 deals, totaling 206.8 billion yuan.

The Expo will be held till September 24, at the Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Center, Dongguan city. It presents not only investment and cooperation opportunities for infrastructure projects of countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road, but also the development of the city's high-tech industries and cross-border e-commerce platforms. In the meantime, six professional exhibitions are included in an effort to display the tourism, culture, delicacies and farm produce along the Maritime Silk Road, and to demonstrate international architectural decoration and engineering machinery, etc

Gwadar utilities need a push

 BR RESEARCH  SEP 21ST, 2017 10:59 0 VIEWS: 137

The two most serious issues that need to be addressed before Gwadar gets off to a proper start are water and power. When BR Research visited the city earlier this year, there was a visible shortage when it came to the provision of both utilities. 

To take care of the city's eventual power needs, an imported coal 300MW is to be set up. Currently, the area gets 70MW via Iran, which is also used for Turbat and Panjgur, whereas Gwadar gets roughly 14MW. 

After some hurdles in approval due to disagreements on demand projections, the project was finally given the go-ahead. The LoI was issued to China Communications Construction Company in May this year with an estimated cost of $600 million and a debt to equity ratio of 75:25. According to the project documents in the recently submitted generation license application to NEPRA, the power plant is expected to be completed by April, 2021 which is already extremely late. 

However, out of the two, water is the most pressing issue with demand for the scarce resource at 4.6 million gallons per day. This demand is partially met through providing 2 to 2.5 million from Akra Kaur dam. According to the GDA's own estimates, the demand is forecasted to reach 12 million gallons per day. The plan is to eventually connect the city with nearby dams and reservoirs, which can bring about 7.5 million per day; but that is not materialising anytime soon. 

There should be a directed effort to increase the pace of work on providing these basic utilities for the area to develop. Ultimately, the plan is to create industrial zones near the port city and that will require a great deal of power. Even as the port and free zone become operational, by 2020 Gwadar would require around 120 MW. 

So perhaps, initially the idea to set up 600 MW instead of 300MW power plant would have been better although more power can also be imported from Iran. The country is already providing close to 100MW, and there is another project of the same wattage in the pipeline. 

Given the importance of getting infrastructure and utilities for the port and industrial estates to start setting up, the pace of work has been generally slow to begin with. There should also be increased co-ordination between local bodies such as the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), and the provincial and federal governments to make most of the opportunity to build the city from scratch

Balochistan’s Home Minister disproves Baloch Students Organization’s propaganda about ‘internet ban’ in province

BSO head had alleged internet ban across Balochistan which was negated by the Home Minister


by Haider Ali Sindhu | Published on September 21, 2017 (Edited September 21, 2017) 🔗




QUETTA – Balochistan’s Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Wednesday refuted claims made by the chairperson of Baloch Students Organization, Karima Baloch regarding internet ban in the province.

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The legislator was moved by the Canada-based head of the organization who in a tweet alleged that the Pakistani civil government had ‘cut off the internet’ in Balochistan.

She stated that she was suspicious that there was something that the Pakistani government wanted to conceal from the world.

However, her claim was shot down by the minister the same day when he tweeted that, like other commoners across Pakistan, people were also enjoying uninterrupted internet access in Balochistan.

‘By the way, tweeting this from Dera Bugti’ Sarfraz wrote in her scathing reply that was widely retweeted.

Karima, who frequently takes to the micro-blogging site Twitter to spew venom against Pakistan Army did not respond to the clarification

'Free Balochistan' banners in Geneva: Rabbani asks FO to expel Swiss ambassador


Free Balochistan banners in Geneva Rabbani asks FO to expel Swiss ambassador

September 21, 2017/ 2 Comments

ISLAMABAD - Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani Wednesday asked the Foreign Office (FO) to expel the Swiss ambassador from Islamabad for Switzerland exporting terrorism to Pakistan from its soil by allowing the Baloch separatists to display “free Balochistan” banners in Geneva.

The chair gave these directives soon after Law Minister Zahid Hamid, on behalf of the foreign minister told the Senate that the Swiss authorities were reluctant to take action against Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a banned organisation in Pakistan, over displaying of banners in Geneva, in the name of freedom of expression.

“So they [Swiss] are doing nothing…what is the government doing?” Rabbani hit at the Swiss government for its inaction.

He said that the Foreign Office needed to take some serious steps and convey the reservations of the house to the Swiss government.

“The Switzerland is exporting terrorism to Pakistan from its soil on the one hand, and on the other hand, we are being asked not to use our soil for terrorism,” he said in the remarks that were given consecutively during the second day.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid in his response said that it was obvious that India was behind this campaign as a large amount of money was spent on this campaign and Baloch separatist leaders had connections with India as well.

The minister, while giving a policy statement in the house, said Pakistan’s mission in Geneva observed that posters titled “Free Balochistan” were displayed in well-frequented areas of Geneva sponsored by “Balochistan House”.

The Balochistan House is said to be an affiliate of the BLA. “The display of such publicity material is a serious violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and of international laws and the UN Charter,” he said.

Hamid said that anti-Pakistan posters were displayed at a time when the UN Human Rights Council started its session from September 11 in Geneva.

Similar posters had been displayed last year during the meeting of the council.

Earlier in March, some Pakistani Christians had displayed posters in Geneva accusing Pakistan of violating human rights of the community, “We had raised this matter with [the] Swiss authorities and they responded that this was no violation of law and we respect the freedom of expression,” he said.

Talking about the steps taken so far, the minister said that Pakistan’s Permanent Representative in Geneva immediately made a strong demarche with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations.

He also wrote a letter to the Swiss Permanent Representative to inform him that the BLA was a listed terrorist organisation under the laws of Pakistan and other countries including the UK.

The use of Swiss soil by terrorists and foreign-sponsored secessionists for nefarious design against Pakistan was totally unacceptable, he said.

Moreover, in his second communication to the Swiss PR, he again impressed upon the Swiss authorities to immediately remove those posters and banners from public places and transport vehicles and prevent recurrence in the future.

In Islamabad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately called in the Swiss ambassador-designate to express its serious concerns over the use of Swiss territory by elements linked with a terrorist organisation perpetrating terrorism and violence in Pakistan.

The ambassador was told that the use of Swiss territory to undermine the territorial integrity of a UN-member state was a violation of the international law and not freedom of expression.

“Our mission in Berne has also contacted the Swiss Foreign Office to strongly protest this incident.”

Separately, the chair referred to the whole house the issue of breach of privilege arising out of an allegedly wrong reply to the question about implementation of the recommendations of inquiry board held last year in malpractices in the Aero Medical Department of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Speaking on his motion, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the CAA instead of taking action in the light of recommendations of the Board of Inquiry, furnished incomplete replies to the house.

It appears a case of cover up, protecting some individuals and misleading the house; he said and urged that it be referred to the Privileges Committee.

Chairman Raza Rabbani asked him for the copies of the documents after which the chair for first time in the history referred the matter to the house instead of the Privileges Committee.

He said that the privileges committee would also investigate the matter and give its report to the house within a week where a final decision would be taken.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by JUI-F lawmaker Hafiz Hamdullah, the Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary ruled out the possibility of installation of spying equipment on the roof of the newly under-construction eight storey building of the US embassy, located in Diplomatic Enclave of Islamabad.

He said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had given NOC to the embassy for expanding its building and no illegal expansion was carried out by the Americans.

He said that the interior ministry and other intelligences agencies had also rejected the apprehensions that the eight-storey building could be used for spying.

Earlier, Senator Hamdullah, while referring to a report of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) said that it had raised objections over the new building of the US Embassy in Islamabad.

 After the PPP Senator Sussi Palejo raised the issue of delay in the announcement of next NFC Award, the chairman Senate said that this matter should neither become victim of litigation nor go to the Supreme Court.

This is the issue of parliament as well as the executive and should be settled here.

He said that either he would give his ruling during the present session or refer the matter to the Senate Committee of the Whole House.

Earlier, Palejo said that some political parties were asking to approach the apex court as the government had delayed the announcement of the NFC Award.

PML-Q Senator Kamal Ali Agha, from the opposition benches, questioned how Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would run the affairs of its ministry when an accountability court had issued his arrest warrant.

He said that the court could declare him an absconder as he was out of the country.

Agha called the matter an embarrassment for the country.

He suggested that the important portfolio of the finance minister should be handed over to some other lawmaker

Only mutual trust, equality can ensure regional security, says Dastgir


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Defence minister says US approach to region contains strategic contradictionsSuccess of CPEC based on national consensus, positive geopolitical relations’

Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir on Wednesday said that in the South Asia security matrix, there was no room for self-proclaimed and artificially boosted states.

He was addressing the concluding session of a two-day national conference titled: ‘Changing Security Situation in South Asia and Development of CPEC’, organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute and the Hanns Seidel Foundation at a local hotel.

Regional security in the 21st Century can only be ensured through relationships and collaborations based on mutual trust and equality,” he said. The minister said that the recently announced US policy on South Asia underscored a greater role for India in Afghanistan and the region, while not acknowledging the exponential contribution, counter-terrorism success, and sacrifices of Pakistan for peace and regional stability.

“There are strategic contradictions in the US approach and most key regional and global players have not supported this declared US policy since it envisages India to be a Net Security Provider in the region.

He said that South Asia was undergoing an unprecedented transformation due to globalised economic trends and rising interdependencies, wherein the prosperity and stability of one nation would be indivisible from others. “It is home to countries that share much with each other culturally and geographically, but ironically progressing independently rather than in conjunction”, he said.

“The possible reason for limited cooperation lies in deep-rooted historic political differences due to colonial legacies and territorial disputes, which have not allowed the environment of trust to prevail and is being exploited by the extra regional states for their geopolitical interests.”

Khurram Dastgir said that political issues and conflicts had not allowed the strategic and economic interests of the region to take precedence. He said that amid these complex security threats, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a significant flagship project, which had gained global attention and had the potential to bring a paradigm shift in the destiny of this entire region.

“But here the caveat is that peace amongst the regional countries is a pre-requisite for success of this initiative.” The success of CPEC, he said, hinged on the ability to deal with intricate national security issues, forging national consensus and preventing negative geo-political influences in the region.

“Cooperation between Pakistan and China is focused on economic development through connectivity and is not against any other country; it seeks to establish and sustain long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with the global and regional players,” he added.

Meanwhile, there was unanimous agreement between the conference delegates that China had never changed its stance towards Pakistan and remained steadfast in supporting it at the international level. China’s push to block anti-Pakistan statements in the recent BRICS Declaration is one example of that.

It was pointed that the CPEC is offering a development counter-narrative to Balochistan’s grievances, and the government of Pakistan should involve the local people and engage the country’s young men and women in CPEC projects