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Pakistan's anti-India stance on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

S.C. Kohli

10 October, 2017

Since China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) came into existence in Pakistan in mid-2015 with Chinese help, Pakistani civil and military leaderships have regularly been leveling unfounded allegations against India for sabotaging the project.

CPEC is an infrastructure and energy related US$ 60 billion worth project, which would also connect Balochistan's Gwadar Port in Pakistan with Kashgar city in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, through a 2395 kilometer long network of roads. This would enhance China's global trade as well as reduce cost of transportation of raw material, especially crude oil.

In Focus

But, India vehemently opposes the CPEC as it is being executed illicitly on Indian territory under Pakistani occupation. India has also other convincing strong objections and concerns over it.

India has valid and legitimate objections to CPEC as it violates the territorial segments of Indian territory in Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which is being held by Pakistan illegally since 1947. Since CPEC's route runs through Gilgit-Baltistan and POK which is in fact Indian territory, China has no locus standi to envisage and then implement such a gigantic project. The CPEC, is entirely illegal from Indian perspective and would adversely affect India's strategic interests.

Through CPEC, China would get direct access to the Arabian Sea for military purposes and would come closer to India militarily. This would also boost Pakistan's morale against India and tempt it to carry more anti-Indian activities with the backing of China. Moreover, once CPEC is completed and becomes fully functional in Gilgit-Baltistan and POK, China may start towing Pakistani line on Kashmir issue and openly favoring Pakistan's illegal occupation of POK.

Since Pakistan has miserably failed to contain terrorism in the country due to its 'double standards' and ambiguity on the issue, China is deeply concerned about the safety of projects under CPEC and its workforce stationed in Pakistan. Despite making tall claims of providing 'foolproof' security to Chinese by forming a Special Security Division (SSD) at the cost of Pakistani rupees 0.5 billion and comprising of a total of 15,000 troops to protect Chinese workers and projects under CPEC, security of CPEC and 7,036 Chinese engaged in such projects remained a major concern for Chinese authorities. Pakistani Navy has also established a separate security unit called 'Force Protection Battalion (FPB)' consisting of Pakistan Marines for the protection of Gwadar Port and Chinese personnel stationed there.

However, China is sternly concerned about the security of CPEC and its workforce in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and the Chinese government had been reiterating its worries periodically over it. In September 2016, the then China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang,in his briefing to the press had accepted that China was highly concerned about the security of its workers and CPEC passing through Pakistan's troubled Balochistan province after a Baloch rebellion leader Allah Nazar Baloch, of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), had warned of attacks targeting the CPEC project. There have been occasional kidnappings and killings of Chinese workers in Pakistan in recent years, including in Balochistan. In March 2016, Baloch separatists had attacked tankers carrying fuel to a Chinese company working on a mining project. Moreover, Gwadar Port, which has been put under the management of a Chinese state-owned company for 40 years is most vulnerable project of CPEC due to unrest in Balochistan. Pakistanis working on CPEC projects, particularly road projects in Balochistan, are also victims of terrorism. Colonel Zafar Iqbal, a spokesman for Pakistan army's construction company Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) had revealed in Quetta in September 2016 that 44 Pakistani workers were killed and over 100 wounded involved in CPEC projects of mainly road construction in Balochistan.

The 'Global Times', which is a part of the ruling Communist Party of China's official publication group, feared (September 13, 2016) about the unlikely "plain sailing" of CPEC and cautioned the people of China and Pakistan to be prepared for "potential setbacks" to the project due to intricate regional conditions. Pakistan's print media had also reported in May 2016 that China's Renmin University's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, in a study made in Pakistan on CPEC had warned of India's allegedly "creating trouble" for CPEC, adding that India's strategic closeness with Afghanistan was "destabilizing" the border areas of Pakistan and creating problems for CPEC. India was also accused of "buying" poor Afghan refugees and training them in militancy, which was a huge threat to the internal stability of Pakistan.

Since it was India's legitimate right to protest against Chinese imitative of CPEC's encroaching Indian territory, under occupation of Pakistan, India, therefore, had lodged its protest against China over it a number of times at the highest level. Prime Minister Modi, during his several meetings with President Xi Jinping, including in July 2015 at UFA in Russia; G-20 Summit at Hangzhou in September 2016 in Chinese province of Zhejiang; and in Astana, Kazakhstan during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit had raised the issue of CPEC and conveyed India's concern over implementation of CPEC projects on Pakistani held Indian territory in Gilgit-Baltistan and POK.

India as a mark of protest against CPEC also skipped "Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation Summit", held in Beijing in May 2017 which was attended by over 60 countries, including USA. However, USA supported India's stand on CPEC also skipping the OBOR Summit. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis strongly opposed CPEC and criticized (October 4, 2017, Washington) China over OBOR and backed India's stand over it.

However, Pakistan failed to fully convince China over providing security to Chinese workforce and CPEC project as well as to check unrest in Balochistan, it has been maligning India and falsely accusing Indian intelligence agencies for sabotaging CPEC projects. Pakistani civil and military leaderships as well as biased print media, particularly vernacular one, are at the forefront in misleading their countrymen and China by regularly indulging in anti-India rhetoric alleging that CPEC was main target of India.

India's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval and prime intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) were labeled as the main accused by Pakistan of making all out efforts to sabotage CPEC. The Pakistani English daily "Daily Mail" alleged (June 5,2017) that Prime Minister Modi had given his consent to a proposal of Ajit Doval to create a specific and dedicated Pakistan-China intelligence cadre, mostly comprising of officers of Indian Police Service (IPS) that would be responsible for planning and executing operations against China and Pakistan, especially targeting CPEC, as R&AW was getting over exposed in Pakistan.

Earlier, Pakistan's Secretary Defense Gen (retd) Alam Khattak while briefing (April 13, 2016 Islamabad) Senate's defense committee had alleged that Indian intelligence agency R&AW had established a special cell at its headquarters in New Delhi to sabotage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and the plan was being executed via Afghanistan. It was further alleged that the Indian government had allocated funds worth US$ 300million to R&AW for sabotaging the CPEC and R&AW chief was personally supervising the project.

In addition to sabotaging CPEC, R&AW was also accused of mobilising all its resources for creating anti-CPEC stance and worsening situation in Balochistan due to extreme violations of human rights by Pakistan army in the province. Notably, Pakistan Intelligence Bureau's (IB) Deputy Director General Ali Ahmed Sabir while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat also alleged (October 19, 2016, Islamabad) that Indian and Afghan spy agencies were preparing certain militant groups to damage the CPEC.

Pakistan's Foreign Office is also active in accusing India to sabotage CPEC. In January 2017, it had alleged that six covert operatives of R&AW were nabbed in Gilgit-Baltistan who were allegedly tasked to conspire against CPEC. Again in February 2017, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman had accused India of planning to "sabotage" CPEC and claimed that alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav had admitted to making an attempt to affect the work on CPEC.

Notably, Pakistan had also accused India of using its diplomatic mission in Islamabad to harm CPEC and claimed to have identified nine Indian diplomats and staff members of Indian High Commission in Islamabad who were allegedly engaged in sabotaging CPEC. English daily "Dawn" of November 03, 2016, had published names and photographs of nine such Indian High Commission staffers who were allegedly undercover operatives of either R&AW or India's Intelligence Bureau (IB) and found to be indulging in subversive activities and were attempting to harm CPEC.

On the other hand Pakistan army is at the forefront in accusing R&AW for allegedly sabotaging CPEC. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat alleged (July 15, 2017, Karachi) that R&AW was operating from Afghanistan to sabotage CPEC and Pakistan was taking effective counter measures for national security. Former Pakistan army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, being while in service till November 2016 used to regularly accuse India of sabotaging CPEC. Addressing (April 13, 2016) a seminar titled "Development of Balochistan and Economic Corridor" in Gwadar, Gen Sharif had publicly alleged that Indian agency R&AW was sabotaging the mega project of CPEC. He used to air similar anti-Indian rhetoric on CPEC during meetings with his Corps Commanders. He also linked allegedly R&AW supported terrorist activities, especially of separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) for targeting CPEC in the province. Pakistan army had also linked arrest of alleged R&AW spy Kulbhushan Jadhav from Chaman in Balochistan for supporting subversive activities to harm CPEC in the province.

While civilian government under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, like Pakistan army, had also been accusing India of harming CPEC particularly by the then Interior Minister Nisar Ali and Defense Minister Khawaj Asif, , the new civil government under Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was equally critical of India for it alleged hand in sabotaging CPEC. While Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal alleged (Karachi, September 12, 2017) that the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was proof of India's intentions to sabotage the CPEC, Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan alleged (September 20, 2017, Islamabad) that India was involved in terrorist activities on the route of the CPEC. Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah and POK President Sardar Masood Khanalso also joined anti-Indian chorus and alleged that India was "hell-bent "on sabotaging CPEC.

Despite Pakistan's impolitic allegations against India of sabotaging CPEC and China's plea to India to cooperate on CPEC despite it passing through POK, in the same way, China did not object to India's maintaining economic ties with Taiwan, India would continue to remind China of illegitimacy of CPEC as it runs over Indian territory under Pakistani's occupation and India has full right to do so. Moreover, Gwadar Port, which is the major component of CPEC, is bound to become a Chinese naval outpost and would be a threat to India's energy and economic security, as more than two thirds of India's petroleum imports pass through the area.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section


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