Friday, June 9, 2017

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD June 9, 2017

Yes, the primary mission is still to protect the homeland by preventing Afghanistan from being used again as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the U.S. or our allies.

And, yes, troop levels and the operational tempo have always been predicated on a single proposition, to buy enough time so that Afghan security forces can successfully take the lead against the Taliban or any other terrorist entity who plan to use Afghanistan as a training or operational base.

But there is a bigger picture.

Pakistan created and supported the Taliban as an instrument of its foreign policy and has always viewed Afghanistan as a client state, a security buffer against what they consider potential Indian encirclement and as a springboard to extend its own influence into the resource-rich areas of Central Asia.

In line with those objectives, Pakistan has an economic incentive to force the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan in order to pursue the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of China's larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones, a project that includes exploitation of Afghanistan's mineral wealth.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and, more broadly, the Belt and Road Initiative are China's attempt to extend its strategic reach to the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Middle East. That approach is similar to what China is doing in Southeast Asia, building artificial islands in the South China Sea as military and logistical bases. It all reminds one of Imperial Japan's "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" of the 1930s and 1940s, to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese [Chinese] and free of Western powers".

What should be an even greater concern to the U.S. is China's growing military ambitions in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

China has established a military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, construction of which started in February 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2018.

To complement that effort, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor allows China to develop the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, a region forcibly incorporated into Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.

Look at the map.

Gwadar would provide China with a military and logistics base at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman, the shipping route to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, a potential chokepoint for Middle East oil exports. Gwadar will also be supplied by a transportation network directly linking China to the port.

The Chinese military base in Djibouti is at the entrance of the Red Sea, transit point to the Suez Canal.

Upon completion of those facilities, China will have a strategically critical region bracketed by its military.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Chinese military ambitions depend on the stability of Balochistan, and, thus, presents a possible lever to influence the regional strategic environment including the situation in Afghanistan.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the U.S. and NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan without a significant change in the strategic conditions because the operational tempo of the war and the supply of our troops are regulated by Pakistani whims.

Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and other natural resources, has been the home of a festering ethnic insurgency. Despite its mineral wealth, the Baloch people have been intentionally kept underdeveloped by the Pakistani government, along with oppression and alleged extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani military.

An autonomous or independent Balochistan could counter Chinese military expansionism, provide a potential bulwark against the terrorism-exporting nations in the region and offer a more reliable sea-land link to Afghanistan.

Frankly, unless the U.S. starts learning to play strategic chess, it could be checkmate.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at

ISIS in Pakistan

Already about 26 leadership elements of ISIS have been identified and steps are under way to get them to Pakistan through the Afghan border”, an analyst revealed, warning that India needs to “prepare for this new threat, as it is certain that the Pakistan military will make operations against India the condition for sheltering elements of the ISIS leadership” in Pakistan.

Chinese whispers

10-Jun-17by DailyTimes

China is not known to play coy. It has always been clear about its global ambitions, which started off slowly and steadily in its own near backyard. In direct contrast to the Washington doctrine - Beijing has been happy to invest economically while asking no awkward questions on human rights. This transactional approach underscores what the Chinese have long referred to as their brand of Communism coming complete 'with Chinese characteristics', a term coined during the Jiang Zemin era.

That being said, China is understandably playing its cards close to its chest when it comes to the recent Pentagon musings on a possible second foreign military base. Beijing has slammed these as irresponsible. Though, significantly, Pakistan has been identified as the probable location.

Despite nothing being confirmed at this stage - the supposition does make sense. China has poured some $52million into the much-touted Chinese Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Then there is its Road and Belt Initiative, which passes through the badlands of the Af-Pak region and brings with it a projected $900billion-price tag. Beijing has offered to get the cash ball rolling with a promised 'down payment' of $125 million.  

What might be the function of this as yet hypothetical military base?

Security, in a word. Already the Pakistan Army has deployed around 15,000 troops to safeguard the Corridor against the militant threat. A naval contingent is in place to defend Gwadar Port. This despite the military establishment's recent assurances of robbing ISIS of a foothold in Balochistan. Then comes the small matter of Beijing striving to offset the US security hegemony in the region. This undoubtedly has quiet Pakistani backing. Indeed, isn't this what Washington wanted all along? When it rapped China's knuckles for failing to adopt a multilateral approach to security, most notably in Afghanistan. Back then Beijing came under fire for paying 'protection money' to the Taliban so that the latter wouldn't blow up Chinese infrastructure in that country.

Afghanistan could have reasonable cause for concern, given the dysfunctional state of the bilateral relationship with Islamabad. Yet this would be unfounded, especially given the fact that the US has long been eyeing keeping more than a large handful of permanent bases there post-combat operations. And then there are the long reported rumours of US designs that would see it establish four or five more bases but across this side of the border. Namely in the Turbat area of Balochistan. In fact the entire province, providing one of the primary NATO supply routes, has somehow found itself at the very centre of the latest round of Great Gaming. We will have to wait and see whether Beijing issues Islamabad with a 'rules of engagement' list, as did the US and which reportedly included allowing American troops freedom of movement within Pakistan's borders.

Nevertheless, it seems that for once Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif managed not to misspeak when likening the vast Chinese investment in the region to standing "on the cusp of a geo-economic revolution". Let us hope that he is proved right in the long-term. And that the possible presence of a Chinese military base does not represent the prop of the coloniser, for whom all returns are to be firmly pocketed before being sent back home. And biryani be damned

Enhance connectivity without infringing sovereignty, unite against terror, says PM Modi in veiled message to China, Pak in Astana

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly pitched for coordinated efforts among SCO members to combat the menace of terrorism and enhance connectivity without impinging on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 00:16

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly pitched for coordinated efforts among SCO members to combat the menace of terrorism and enhance connectivity without impinging on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In his address at the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, where Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping were part of the audience, Modi without naming any country referred to India’s concerns about Pak-backed terror groups and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

"Coordinated efforts are needed to fight the menace of terrorism, including radicalisation, recruitment, training and financing of terrorists," Modi said in a veiled message to Pakistan.

"Terrorism is a major threat to humanity," Modi said, adding that there was a need for concerted efforts to defeat terrorism and radicalisation.

"I have full confidence that the India-SCO cooperation will give a new direction and strength to the fight against terrorism," he said.

The Prime Minister also spoke on the need for enhancing connectivity in the region and said it was the key for boosting trade and investment.

"We have extensive cooperation with SCO nations. We want to deepen the focus on connectivity," he said.

However, the Prime Minister, speaking in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif among others, asserted that sovereignty and territorial integrity should be the key factors in such a cooperation.

While acknowledging that they have differences on issues like OBOR, NSG and Masood Azhar which have to be addressed seriously by them, PM Modi asserted that sovereignty and regional integrity should be respected on connectivity, in remarks that come against the backdrop of opposition to Beijing's One Belt, One Road initiative.

Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit here and held discussions on a range of issues, including China`s reservations over India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and UN sanctioning of Pak-based terrorist Masood Azhar.

"The sense of the meeting was that the two countries have great benefit, great interest in working with each other and we will have differences. But where we have differences, how do we work through those differences, find common ground where they are possible. And also a sense that wherever we have concerns, each side will look at it with a degree of seriousness," Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said while briefing the media about the talks between the two leaders.

He was asked about the various areas of differences between the two countries including India`s reservations on OBOR, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) forming part of it and Beijing's opposition to India`s membership of the NSG and UN sanctions on Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar.

Jaishankar said the broad thrust of the meeting was that at a time of global uncertainty, India-China relations are a factor of stability.

"I think there was also an understanding that where we have differences, it was important that these differences should not become disputes and, in fact, if they were handled well, they could even be opportunities," he said.

On India keeping away from the OBOR forum, the Foreign Secretary said these was discussion on connectivity and how the two countries could work together. In fact, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BCIM corridor came up for discussion, he said. 

With Xi listening to him, Modi, in his speech at the summit, made oblique reference to India's concerns over OBOR and CPEC saying sovereignty and regional integrity should be respected while Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose country is partnering China, hailed the project.

"For connectivity initiatives and for success and approval of the projects, sovereignty and regional integrity must be respected while inclusivity and sustainability are essential," Modi said.

Avoiding any direct reference to OBOR and and CPEC, he said India joining the International North South Transport Corridor and the Chabahar port agreement and the decision to join the Ashgabat Agreement will bring India closer to these places.

Sharif said the Belt and Road initiative transforms the global economic landscape. "And in Pakistan we are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is the flagship of the BRI. What is more, these mega projects will benefit the entire SCO community," he said.

The issue of terror also figured at the summit. Amidst the ongoing India-Pakistan chill, Modi called for coordinated and strong efforts to fight terror and radicalisation, particularly recruitment, training and financing, giving a veiled message to Islamabad.

"Terrorism is violation of human rights and basic human values. The fight against terrorism is an important part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Whether it is the issue of radicalisation, recruitment of terrorists, their training and financing, unless we take coordinated and strong efforts, it is not possible to find a solution," Modi said.

On Thursday night, Modi and Sharif exchanged pleasantries at a cultural function hosted by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The informal interaction came 17 months after Modi's surprise stop over in Lahore to greet Sharif on his birthday and attend a pre-marriage function at his residence on December 25, 2015.

Hailing the SCO's efforts in the fight against terror, Modi expressed the hope that the eight-member Eurasian bloc will give a new direction and strength to this fight. 

Sharif, whose speech followed that of Modi, said, "We fully endorse the SCO's resolve to fight the twin evils of terrorism and extremism."

"Pakistan has fought its own fierce war in the fight against international terrorism and, with the grace of God, it has been able to achieve a turnaround in the security and economic situation in our country," Sharif said.

(With Agency inputs

India, Pakistan enter SCO, PM Narendra Modi message to Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif


Written by Shubhajit Roy | Astana |Updated: June 10, 2017 9:07 Am

Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan on Friday. PTI Photo

The diplomatic games between India, China and Pakistan were in full play in Astana on Friday, as both India and Pakistan became members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). While Chinese President Xi Jinping started the day by telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he “liked” the Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal, sources said he did not raise the One Belt One Road (OBOR) issue — India boycotted the summit in Beijing last month. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had a meet-and-greet with Modi on Thursday evening, is understood to have met Modi again on Friday, before and after the SCO summit, when the two leaders were in the lounge.

During the SCO summit at the Palace of Independence, Modi and Sharif were seated separately, with the Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif sitting between them. There were five people separating the two leaders, including National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval and Pakistan PM’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz.

Read | PM Modi, Xi Jinping to meet today in first talks after India stayed away from OBOR


At the summit, the leaders articulated their views, consistent with their stated diplomatic objectives.

Pushing for OBOR, Xi sought deepening of “practical cooperation” and said the SCO may well serve as an “important platform” for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Read | India, Pak get ready to join Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – and future joint military exercises

With Xi listening in, Modi made India’s objections on OBOR clear, as he said that connectivity projects in the region should respect “territorial integrity and sovereignty”, and maintain “inclusivity and sustainability”.

“Connectivity with SCO countries is India’s priority, and we totally support it. For the success and approval of the connectivity initiatives and proposals, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected, and inclusivity and sustainability is essential,” said Modi, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres looked on.

“Terrorism is one of the biggest violators of human rights and values. So, coordination between SCO countries is an important part of the fight against terrorism and extremism. I have full faith that India’s cooperation with SCO will give a new direction and energy in the fight against terrorism,” he said, with Sharif and Aziz listening attentively.

Modi also emphasised the need for coordinated efforts to fight terrorism, including radicalisation, recruitment, training and financing of terrorists.

With Modi’s speech, delivered in Hindi, India sent a strong message to both countries on the hot-button issues.

Sharif, meanwhile, used the opportunity to bat for CPEC and OBOR. He said the SCO’s expansion was taking place at an opportune time, as the BRI transforms global economic landscape. “And, in Pakistan, we are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship of the BRI. What is more, these mega projects will benefit the entire SCO community,” he said.

Interestingly, these speeches took place about four hours after Modi met Xi at about 10 am at the Beijing Palace hotel here, where the Chinese leader and his delegation are staying.

According to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, the 40-minute meeting was “very positive and cordial”. This was a markedly different posturing from their last meeting in Goa, where they met on the margins of the BRICS summit, when all the hot-button issues were raised, ranging from NSG to Masood Azhar.

“There was also an understanding that where we have differences, differences should not become disputes. In fact, if handled well, (it) can even become opportunity,” he said, indicating India’s softening stand and efforts to bring down the temperature in the relationship.

“The sense of the meeting was that the two countries have great interest in working with each other and we will have differences. Where we have differences, how to work and find common ground. And wherever we have concerns, each side will look at it with a degree of seriousness,” said Jaishankar, in remarks perceived as an attempt to create a more diplomatic maneuvering space for dealing with China.

“They are the President and the Prime Minister… I think you must see this summit-level meeting for what it is,” said Jaishankar, not wanting the top leaders to get boxed in with specifics.

The last two meetings between Modi and Xi, in Goa in October and in Tashkent in June last year, when the leaders went into specifics, did not go well. While Tashkent was a disappointment since Xi did not yield to Modi’s request for NSG membership, Goa witnessed no softening of position on Masood Azhar’s listing at the UN.

Indicating that the two leaders talked about closing ranks, in the face of an unpredictable US administration under President Donald Trump, Jaishankar said, “The broad thrust was that at a time of global uncertainty, India-China relations are a factor of stability. As the world becomes more multipolar, it is important for India and China to work together closely.”

He also said that a number of issues came up for discussion, including economic cooperation, investment, connectivity, establishment of industrial parks, cooperation in railways, security and defence exchanges, counter-terrorism. They also talked about the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, and parliamentary and youth exchange programmes.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing said Xi told Modi that “China and India, as two major countries, should focus more on cooperation and work alongside to provide assistance with each other’s development goals.” Xi also called for both sides to “properly address sensitive and major issues,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Sharif, while addressing the SCO summit, said, “The SCO goals resonate with Pakistan’s national ethos, and so do the core values of the Shanghai spirit and the SCO charter with our own quest for peaceful neighbourhood.”

Welcoming Xi’s proposal on a five-year treaty for ‘good neighbourliness’ among SCO members, he said, “As leaders, we should leave a legacy of peace and amity for our future generations, not a toxic harvest of conflict and animosity. Instead of talking about counter-weights and containment, let us create shared spaces for all.” He did not mention the Kashmir dispute.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s media reported another round of handshakes between Modi and Sharif, even circulating a purported photograph. There was, however, no official confirmation or denial from the Indian side.

The summit concluded with India and Pakistan’s admission as members of the SCO. The leaders also visited Expo-2017, which is a flagship business and cultural event organised by the Kazakhstan government

KP govt raises special force for security of foreign nationals

Mushtaq Yusufzai

June 10, 2017

Data of Chinese nationals working in KP being collected

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has raised a special and dedicated force for the security of the foreigners, particularly the Chinese, working on uplift projects in the province.

Though the decision to raise this force had already been made, it assumed urgency in the wake of the kidnapping of two Chinese nationals and their subsequent killing allegedly by the militant group Islamic State (IS) in Balochistan.

The incident has set the alarm bells ringing among the official circles in Pakistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the provincial government has devised the standard operation procedure (SOP) to avert a similar incident in the province that has been beset by acts of sabotage.

The two Chinese nationals, who ran a Mandarin language course in Quetta, were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen pretending to be policemen from Jinnah Town in Quetta on May 24.  The claim about their killing was made by the IS news agency Amaq.

Security officials in Quetta believed that two offshoot groups of the IS, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami and Jaishul Islam kidnapped the Chinese nationals and delivered them to the IS. The two militant groups are stated to be helping the IS gain a foothold in Pakistan.

However, the Pakistani security officials have repeatedly denied the presence of the IS in the country.The IS controls some territories in eastern Afghanistan. It claimed responsibility for a number of deadly terror attacks in Pakistan including the recent suicide attack on Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl leader and  Deputy Chairman of Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. Though he survived the attack, some 25 people were killed in the attack.

The murder of two Chinese citizens is stated to be the first incident involving foreign nationals killed by the IS in Pakistan. It would prompt the authorities to beef up security of the foreign nationals, particularly those working on projects being executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to collect data of all the Chinese nationals working in the province so that security could be provided to them.”We held a meeting with the chief minister and decided to collect the data of Chinese nationals working in our province. The KP government has signed several agreements with the Chinese government and many Chinese have arrived here. We need to think about their security,” said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs Secretary Siraj Ahmad Khan. He said the task of collecting data of the Chinese nationals was given to the Planning and Development Department. “The data will give us a clear picture about the number of the Chinese in our province,” he added.

“We will provide security to all the foreign nationals on our soil but ?obviously our priority is to ensure security of those working on projects,” added Siraj Ahmad Khan. When contacted, Planning and Development Department Secretary Shahab Ali Shah said that providing security to the foreign investors was top priority of the provincial government.

He said the KP government had raised a special and dedicated force of 4,200 personnel for security of foreign nationals, particularly the Chinese.

According to Shahab Ali Shah, more than 4,000 Chinese are working on projects in the province. “Of the 4,200-member force, we have raised a force of 1,500 and acquired 2,500 cops from the police. This force is specifically dedicated to providing security to the foreign nationals particularly working on projects under the CPEC. Three important routes of CPEC are passing through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said. He said the standard operating procedure has been devised for the foreign nationals and rules have particularly been relaxed for Chinese working on CPEC projects.Shahab Ali Shah said that apart from China, the KP government has signed agreements with some other countries. “We would soon receive people from Denmark, France, Malaysia, Korea, Hungary and Iran. They are coming to work on various projects in hydel, mines and minerals, oil and gas and tourism sectors,” he said. “And this special force equipped with brand new vehicles and sophisticated arms will provide them foolproof security,” he said

China’s New Silk Road Project May Be Too Big To Succeed

The initiative could be the most significant coordinated development undertaking in history. But success is far from certain.

06/09/2017 09:55 am ET


A woman holds Chinese and British flags as she watches the first freight train to travel from China arrive in London’s Barking depot, a journey of 18 days and 12,000 kilometers. Jan. 18.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s massive “One Belt, One Road” project is more expansive and inclusive than any other modern undertaking by a single country. If successful, it could transform the face of the developing world. But the endeavor has many potential pitfalls.

The Belt and Road initiative covers a huge part of the world and promises to thrust China into the center of the globalization process. Developing countries that lack infrastructure can theoretically obtain much-needed roads, railways and ports. The Belt and Road initiative could represent the most significant coordinated development undertaking in history.


The question, though, is if it will succeed. There appears to be insufficient due diligence in some cases, which carries political and financial risks. For example, work on the Colombo port project in Sri Lanka and a high-speed rail plan in Indonesia stalled due to local opposition. In other areas, like Gwadar in Pakistan, security is a major concern.

Projects funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are more likely to be carefully weighed in terms of risk. By contrast, projects financed by the China Development Bank or the Export and Import Bank of China may undergo standard examination but, as part of an array of projects on the table, may be short-changed in full analysis and oversight.

There appears to be insufficient due diligence in some cases, which carries political and financial risks.

AIIB has provided $1.73 billion for nine Belt and Road projects. The overall figure for projects in the planning or implementation stages is $900 billion. The vast majority of funding for Belt and Road projects comes from the Export and Import Bank of China, China Development Bank and China’s commercial banks. China’s policy banks are overbooked: in 2015 alone, the China Development Bank said it had reserved $890 billion for over 900 projects. What is more, the Export-Import Bank of China stated at the beginning of 2016 that it had funded over 1,000 projects. How can these large development banks plan and oversee that many projects? 

Political risk is also a major concern. Seventy-one percent of Chinese firms view political risk as a major threat to investing abroad. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, where China has planned to build up an international port, is a prominent example. There is an ongoing separatist insurgency that is likely to threaten security in the region. Political risk can destroy the value of industry and infrastructure in a short period of time and needs to be a major factor in planning before projects get off the ground. 

Poor project performance may also create political tensions between invested countries and China. Already, China’s plans to construct a second canal in Nicaragua have led to protests in response to the threat of large-scale environmental pollution in Lake Nicaragua and local land seizures for the project. Many Pakistanis are no more enthusiastic about the economic corridor project, which has employed Chinese workers rather than local labor. These conflicts could result in project disruptions and large losses.

Investment could be more beneficial if the pace of implementation is slowed down and carefully overseen.

This brings us to the problem of debt repayment. Many Belt and Road projects have high credit risks. China’s own credit rating is AA-, but Belt and Road countries hold credit ratings of BB+ and below. China will have additional potential non-performing loans that will make their way through the financial pipeline and reduce China’s fiscal and financial viability going forward.

The presence of risks does not mean that planned projects should be abandoned. However, investment could be more beneficial if the pace of implementation is slowed down and carefully overseen. Using a more cautious approach to political and financial risks during the planning stage can help ensure that Belt and Road projects come to fruition

China's Bases in Pakistan Will Have Strategic Ramifications for India - Expert


14:01 09.06.2017(updated 15:58 09.06.2017)Get short URL


India has downplayed a US report which warned that China could set up military bases in Pakistan. Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said India has its own assessment and will not make any strategy on the basis of the US report.


India Says Defense Preparedness Necessary for Peace in the Region

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The US report claimed that expanding international economic interests are forcing China to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect its interests.

“It is an assessment which is there in the US report. We have our own assessments. Let us see what happens in the future,” Admiral Lanba said on the report released by US Department of Defense on China’s military prowess this week.

“China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan,” report added.

The Chinese facility in Djibouti has already emerged as a full-fledged 'military base', notwithstanding what nomenclature Beijing accords to it. Considering the approximately $57 billion investment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of rail, road and energy projects — part of One Belt, One Road, China is most likely to strengthen its military capability in Gwadar. It is considered that after completing CPEC road projects, China can bypass the Strait of Malacca, if and when the need arises, and can offload energy products at Gwadar and transported to China through CPEC. But for India, a military base at Gwadar may have severe strategic ramifications.

“For India, the strategic ramifications are rather grave. A decade ago, India's security establishment was assessing its military preparedness to deal with a 'two-front scenario' in terms of China (in the north) and Pakistan (in the west). Today, with China's ongoing deployment of the PLA security forces along the CPEC, and the imminent PLA Navy deployment at Gwadar to secure the maritime route, the interpretation of 'two front' scenario may soon change to 'China' (in the north) and 'China and Pakistan' (in the west),” Captain Gurpreet S Khurana (Indian Navy), Executive Director, National Maritime Foundation (NMF), told Sputnik.

Meanwhile, China has claimed its logistics facility in Djibouti is to ensure the Chinese forces carrying out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, and performing humanitarian aid missions, will refresh here. China has firmly discarded the report and termed it a “Cold-War mentality” product



As Beijing’s investment in the country grows with its New Silk Road ambitions, so too will the threat faced by its citizens


A soldier stands guard near the site where two Chinese-language teachers were kidnapped by gunmen in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo: Reuters

The reported murder of two Chinese citizens by Islamic State terrorists in Pakistan on Thursday underscores the complications Beijing faces by massively expanding its economic and diplomatic presence in Southwest Asia.

The two Chinese language teachers were kidnapped on May 24 from the western city of Quetta, the dusty capital of Balochistan province, a fault line of regional geopolitics that Beijing is increasingly becoming involved in as a consequence of its Belt and Road Initiative outreach to the Middle East and Africa through the strategic port of Gwadar.

Highway to sell: How $55b trade corridor rekindled China-Pakistan romance

Navy vessels from the People’s Liberation Army have been providing security escorts to Chinese commercial vessels since they began plying services through Gwadar in November and the port will in the future house a detachment of PLA marines, making it China’s second overseas military base after Djibouti.

A Pakistani soldier guards a ship at Gwadar port. Photo: AFP

Valued at US$46 billion upon launch in 2015, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is now officially worth US$57 billion and is expected to grow further – and with it the threat to a growing number of Chinese nationals in the country.

“The protection afforded to Chinese personnel in Pakistan has been significantly upgraded since a spate of kidnappings and killings that took place a decade ago, and CPEC has taken it up several more notches. But the scale of the project inevitably means there will be other Chinese nationals drawn to take on jobs in the country, who are softer targets,” said Andrew Small, author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics.

China in the middle: Pakistan trade corridor under spotlight

The announcement of the hostages’ execution by the Islamic State (IS) news agency Amaq came hours after the Pakistani military announced its forces had conducted a three-day assault on a base established by a local IS affiliate in a remote cave system near Mastung, 86km southeast of Quetta.

It acted on intelligence that indicated the Chinese hostages had been held there and the vehicle in which they had been kidnapped was found at the site. The operation failed to recover the Chinese teachers, but “denied the establishment of any direct or indirect infrastructure organised for IS in Balochistan”, the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations directorate said.

Pakistani soldiers guard the site where two Chinese teachers were kidnapped in the neighbourhood of Jinnah town in Quetta. Photo: AFP

Quetta and other towns of Balochistan along the lengthy border with southern Afghanistan are notorious safe havens for the Afghan Taliban’s cabinet-in-exile – a situation allowed by Pakistan’s security services in order to undermine its adversaries in the US-backed Afghan government.

This month the Trump administration in the United States is expected to announce an interlinked policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which a prolonged commitment to supporting the National Unity Government in Kabul will be backed by a renewed military campaign to halt the Taliban’s significant territorial gains of the last two years.

In that period, the Afghan government lost control of 15 per cent of its national territory and could only claim to control or influence 57 per cent of districts, according to US military estimates provided to Congress.

A Pakistani man injured during the kidnapping of two Chinese teachers receives medical treatment at a hospital in Quetta. Photo: AFP

Speaking in Sydney on Monday, both US Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said they did not foresee the Taliban becoming part of the democratically elected set-up in Afghanistan. Neither mentioned a peace process involving the Taliban – something that since 2011 has been the cornerstone of a US policy that accepted there is no military solution to the country’s 16-year war.

“The bottom line is we’re not going to surrender civilisation to people who cannot win at the ballot box,” said Mattis.

How Uygurs and Tibetans found unity in Kashmir

Pakistan is expected to come under intense US pressure as a consequence of this major US policy change. The imposition of financial sanctions is likely if Islamabad does not act to prevent cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. The White House may also authorise the US military to conduct the “hot pursuit” of Afghan insurgents moving into Pakistani territory from recently reclaimed strongholds in southern Afghanistan, according to respected Pakistani political analyst Nusrat Javeed.

The May 2016 assassination of Taliban chief Mullah Mansoor Akhtar in the first-ever US drone strike in Balochistan also suggests that US military actions could spill into areas of western Pakistan where CPEC infrastructure projects are currently under construction.

The US has no desire to antagonise China, however.

The dockside at the port of Gwadar. Photo: AFP

By stepping up its diplomatic efforts in recent years for peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban, and providing its first military aid package to the Afghan government, Small said China had demonstrated a shared outlook with the US on how best to bring about stability in Afghanistan, and a more cautious, predictable Pakistani approach to its immediate neighbourhood.

Anthony Cordesman, chairman of strategy at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, said the US-China relationship in Afghanistan should go further. “The US should reach out to China to make it clear that Chinese cooperation in dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan can serve both Chinese and US interests,” he wrote in a paper published last week.

Pakistan’s forbidden romance with Bollywood

But Beijing remains careful about “leaning too hard on Pakistan”, said Small, senior fellow with the Asian programme of the German Marshall Fund of the US.

“They won’t push Pakistan to take steps that cut against what Islamabad perceives to be their own strategic interests, and the Chinese capacity to make tactical judgments on, say, navigating the nuances of different militant groups in Afghanistan is still relatively limited,” Small said.

“There will be specific areas where they are willing to push, though, as we saw in their efforts to get talks with the Taliban under way

Two Chinese nationals killed in Balochistan: China concerned, but says won't affect CPEC

WorldIANSJun, 09 2017 17:09:38 IST

Beijing: China on Friday said it was "gravely concerned" about the killing of two Chinese citizens in Pakistan's restive Balochistan.

"According to initial information from the Pakistani side, the two Chinese citizens kidnapped may have already unfortunately been killed," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Representational image. Reuters

"We have taken note of relevant reports and we express our grave concern. We have been trying to rescue the two kidnapped hostages over the past days," Hua said.

A Chinese man and a woman, who taught Mandarin in Balochistan, were kidnapped from Jinnah in Quetta last month. The Islamic State terror group has reportedly owned up responsibility for killing the two Chinese nationals.

However, Beijing said that it stands by Pakistan in the fight against terror and sought to dispel fears about its multi-billion dollar economic corridor being hit.

The $46 billion project, which connects China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan's Gwadar port, is the "flagship" project of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.

"We strongly condemn all forms of terrorism and support Pakistan in its fight (against terrorism) and for peace and tranquillity in the region and beyond," Hua said.

"I think this incident has no connection with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting," she said.

The incident comes at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting.

China has in the past expressed concern over the safety and security of its citizens in Pakistan

Enhance connectivity without infringing sovereignty: PM Modi at SCO

PTI | Updated: Jun 9, 2017, 03.38PM IST


Terror a threat to humanity, says PM Narendra Modi


PM Modi said India has extensive cooperation with SCO nations.Terrorism is a major threat to humanity, PM Modi said at the summit.PM Modi thanked all SCO members for their support.

ASTANA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly pitched for coordinated efforts among SCOmembers to combat the menace of terrorism and enhance connectivity without impinging on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In his address at the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Kazakh capital, Modi hoped that India's entry into the SCO family will give a new momentum to the grouping in dealing with terrorism.

"Terrorism is a major threat to humanity," Modi said, adding that there was a need for coordinated efforts to defeat terrorism and radicalisation.

The Prime Minister also spoke on the need for enhancing connectivity in the region and said it was the key for boosting trade and investment.

"We have extensive cooperation with SCO nations. We want to deepen the focus on connectivity," he said.

However, the Prime Minister, speaking in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif among others, asserted that sovereignty and territorial integrity should be the key factors in such a cooperation.

His remarks assume significance as they come weeks after India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in which 29 world leaders took part.

India abstained from the Summit tohighlight its concerns over the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), the pet project of Xi Jinping, and passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Modi said that the SCO will help in bringing peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister also called for efforts by the SCO to tackle climate change.

Modi meets Xi, calls for respecting each other's core concerns

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today underscored the need to respect each other's core concerns and appropriately handle the disputes as he met Chinese President Xi Jinping amid tensions in the bilateral ties over a host of issues including the CPEC and India's NSG membership bid.

The two leaders met in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

It is the first meeting between the two leaders after India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing last month in which 29 world leaders took part.

During his meeting with Xi, Modi said the two sides should tap their potential in cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination in international affairs, respect each other's core concerns and appropriately handle their disputes.

The Indian side is grateful for China's support for India's accession to the SCO and will work closely with China in the organisation, Modi said.

On his part, Xi told Modi that the two sides should increase communication and coordination in multilateral affairs and appropriately control and handle disputes and sensitive problems, China's official Xinhua news agency said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that both the countries "should also address sensitive and major issues" as she highlighted the issues figured in the meeting.

"India should focus more cooperation and work alongside to provide assistance to each other's developmental goals," Hua said.

"The two sides should strengthen the complementarities of the development strategies and press ahead with the major cooperation projects such as energy and railways," Hua said.

Pakistan confirms chinese nationals dead

Pakistani protesters condemn the suicide bombing at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, in Lahore, Pakistan, Feb. 17, 2017. Pakistani forces killed and arrested dozens a day after a massive suicide bombing by the Islamic State group killed dozens of worshipp


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Islamic State has released a video showing the bloodied body of a captive Chinese national the terrorist group claimed to have killed along with his female partner in southwestern Pakistan.

A provincial government official confirmed to VOA that the man who seems to be taking his last breaths in the video is one of the two Chinese kidnapped last month from Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province.

Mastung, Pakistan

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he said that authorities have not yet found the bodies of the Chinese nationals, and he would like to abstain from making any official assertions on the fate of the two foreigners.

China briefed by Pakistan

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news briefing Friday that Beijing has been told by Islamabad the two abductees are probably dead.

"Pakistan's relevant side has provided China with some information and said these two kidnapped Chinese citizens have likely already been murdered. We are gravely concerned about this," she said.

Chunying added that Beijing is in contact with the Pakistani side and trying to learn more about and verify the situation by all means.

Islamic State’s global media outlet, the Amaq News Agency, announced Thursday the group had executed the two captives in Mastung, a district about 50 kilometers south of Quetta.

Would-be headquarters destroyed

The Syria-based terrorist group issued the claim hours after Pakistani authorities announced a major military operation had destroyed a would-be IS headquarters in a rugged mountain range near Mastung.

The raid killed 12 hardcore militants while five security personnel were also wounded during clashes, an army spokesman said.

He added that the multi-cave complex spread across 10 kilometers was occupied by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, a Sunni extremist organization known for deadly attacks against minority Shi’ite Muslims in Pakistan.

The group used to be an al-Qaida loyalist, but Pakistani officials believe it has lately been working to help IS establish a foothold in Pakistan.

IS has taken credit for several recent deadly suicide bombings in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan. The latest such attack took place last month in Mastung, killing 25 people.

The military said the suicide bomber had been sent from the IS base security forces neutralized last week. Pakistani officials have long insisted IS has no organized presence in the country.

But a string of attacks and a major base the army destroyed in Mastung contradict officials claims, critics say.

The army also released video footage of the IS base it raided. A bomb-making facility was also destroyed, and security forces seized 50 kilograms of explosives, suicide vests, grenades, machine guns, sniper rifles and communication systems, according to an official statement.

A Pakistan soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2016.

Belt and Road

Baluchistan, particularly its newly expanded deep-water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, is at the heart of a $60 billion Chinese-funded “Belt and Road” trade and development initiative.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of a network of roads, rail links and power plants. It will ultimately link China’s western Xinjiang region to Gwadar, giving Beijing the shortest trade access to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

But as the work on CPEC-related projects has picked up, the Pakistani province is encountering an uptick in militant and separatist violence.

Thursday’s announcement by IS, if confirmed, would increase worries among Chinese experts and workers associated with CPEC-related projects.

Pakistani officials acknowledge that the gruesome killings of the two Chinese will have a psychological impact on the joint economic activity but said the two nations are determined not to be deterred by such terrorist acts.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated the resolve while addressing a regional cooperation summit Friday in Kazakhstan.

“We are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a flagship of the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative),” Sharif told the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCOA), which is jointly led by China and Russia

India exploiting Baloch to settle scores: Ghazan Marri

09-Jun-17by Marvi Sirmed

ISLAMABAD: India is using the Baloch resistance to settle its score for Kashmir with Pakistan and funnelling money to the Baloch fighter groups for militancy.

Ghazan Marri, the Baloch leader who has been in self-exile since last 18 years, expressed these views while talking to Daily Times from his UAE apartment. “How else are they surviving and leading such lavish lives?” he hinted towards Brahumdagh Bugti, the rebel son of slain Baloch leader Akbar Bugti, who has publicly resorted to Indian Prime Minister Modi for help in ‘Baloch cause’.

Ghazan Marri is the son of revered Baloch nationalist leader, late Kher Bakhsh Marri, and is accused of being the co-founder of now proscribed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA).

“It was my brother’s organisation, not mine, and I distanced myself from BLA following my father’s teachings of non-violent and peaceful resistance,” Marri claims. He said Pakistan’s establishment wrongly framed him in various criminal cases that included murder of Balochistan High Court judge Nawaz Marri, false cases of terrorism and destruction of installations. He denied being part of any terrorist activity or militancy that he has ever been accused of.

Ghazan Mari had escaped in 1999 following the crackdown on Baloch nationalists wherein his father Kher Bakhsh Marri was arrested in old age. My father then persuaded me to escape because the establishment was bent upon punishing all of us and that’s when I escaped to Dubai, he said. In 2006, then Minister of Interior Aftab Sherpao had claimed that Dubai authorities had repatriated Marri and handed him over to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies where he was being tried under Anti Terrorist Court.

Ghazan Marri while talking to Daily Times strongly denied this. He said he was never handed over to any Pakistani authority, nor he ever was repatriated to Pakistan. In fact, he said, Pakistan’s establishment under Gen Pervez Musharraf had issued red warrants against him in 2005, following, which he as arrested by the Interpol on the “false charges of money laundering worth $10 million”. However, Interpol soon found out that all the cases against him were politically motivated and that’s why after remaining six months and ten days in Interpol custody, he was acquitted of all charges after a thorough trial. “Musharraf government framed me for 190 murders and the Nishtar Park terrorist attack, which had happened while I was under Interpol custody in Dubai. “That was enough, among many other evidences, for the Interpol to conclude that this was a politically motivated witch-hunt”, Marri said.

Responding to the question about the allegation of having received funding from three foreign countries, the charge framed by the Musharraf government back in 2006, Ghazan Mari said he was prepared to present his bank accounts for every kind of scrutiny. When asked how, then, he was able to fund his lifestyle in Dubai for last 18 years he said his family owned hundreds of acres of arable land back home in Pakistan, which was enough to feed him and his family.

Talking about the Baloch separatism he said he was not sure if he would be joining that bandwagon, but if the majority of his tribe, elders and supporters would want that he would choose that path. However, he said, all these groups ostensibly posing ‘resistance’ in the name of Baloch cause had turned into mercenaries who would kill for money and influence. “No wonder Baloch separatists and some religiously motivated sectarian organisations are working in tandem in Balochistan”, he added.

Talking about the terrorist attacks on Punjabi labourers, Marri said this was not what the Baloch are about. “If we are against oppression, how could we use oppression to achieve our objectives?” On missing persons, Marri sounded very agitated and reminded the military establishment of Pakistan’s constitution and law. “If you want Baloch nationalists to concede to Pakistan’s constitution, you have to make sure that you follow your own constitution and law yourself”. He said Pakistan’s military establishment is creating such a situation in some areas of Balochistan that FC becomes a permanent requirement for maintaining law and order. “If peace has to be brought to Balochistan, Army will have to go back to barracks”, he said.

“If some parties are trying to change Balochistan’s demography against the Baloch, it can’t happen without the establishment’s support”, Marri said about the influx of Afghan refugees in Balochistan and their naturalisation through legal or illegal means. If “they” are doing it deliberately, they should understand that it would harm their own interests at the end of the day because the radicalisation that this population is bringing would become impossible to handle, he said.

Marri says he had nothing against Pakistan’s military “only if they stop interfering with people’s choices in Balochistan and handpicking their lackeys like Changez Marri (his brother) for representation of people”. He said PML-N government had been putting all kinds of obstacles for him since 2014 when he decided to come back after his father passed away.

He said military establishment used to approach him during Musharraf’s time to cut a deal and come back, “which was always denied because my elders thought it might not be a best decision”. After 2008 elections however, then President Asif Ali Zardari contacted and “offered me Governorship of Balochistan”. When asked why he didn’t accept the offer, he smiled “Zardari sahib, although poles apart politically, but has been a social acquaintance since 1975. I respected Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto like my elder sister and considered her as my mentor. But unfortunately, Mr. Zardari is an impulsive person having little foresight”. He said that in that particular meeting, then Interior Minister Rehman Malik was accompanying Mr. Zardari and told me to immediately decide taking the offer. “It was this now-or-never attitude that was not acceptable to me as I had to discuss this with my tribal elders. So that deal could never be sealed”.

Ghazan is scheduled to come back to Pakistan immediately after Eid, after which he would decide about his political future. He denied that he was coming back after some understanding with the military establishment. “I know I can be arrested as soon as I arrive Pakistan. All I demand from military establishment is a fair trial”, Marri said

Beijing “gravely concerned” as reports say Chinese couple abducted in Pakistan killed

The couple was kidnapped from Balochistan last month, triggering concerns over the CPEC trade corridor project. The incident may dominate talks between Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif at Astana



Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the site where a Chinese couple was kidnapped in the neighbourhood of Jinnah town in Quetta on May 24. (AFP FILE)

Updated: Jun 09, 2017 12:36 IST

By Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing

China said on Friday it was “gravely concerned” over reports that two of its nationals in Pakistan were killed recently after being abducted last month.

“We have taken note of relevant reports and we express our grave concern. We have been trying to rescue the two kidnapped hostages over the past days,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said.

A young Chinese couple teaching Mandarin in Balochistan, the centre of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), was kidnapped from Quetta’s Jinnah town in the last week of May, triggering alarm in Beijing.

The abduction highlighted the risk of the of the project.

The news of the killing could likely be on top of the agenda for discussions when Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

“The Chinese side is working to learn about and verify relevant information through various channels, including working with Pakistani authorities,” Hua said on Friday.

“The Chinese side is firmly opposed to the acts of kidnapping civilians in any form, as well as terrorism and extreme violence in any form”.

The Chinese state media had noted the risks involved in the CPEC following the abduction.

“…But it is worth noting that Islamic militants have often carried out abductions of foreigners on Pakistani soil, either for ransom or to get publicity for their cause. Chinese people have also been targeted occasionally, despite the friendly relations between the two countries,” the tabloid Global Times had said in an article after the abduction.

It said the Balochistan province is at the “centre” of CPEC, which is expected to link China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the southern coast of the province.

“But the restive region has seen frequent violence committed by Islamic terrorists and separatists and the Belt and Road program is often be exposed to potential threats. Last year, a Chinese engineer was injured in a bomb attack in southern Pakistan and a separatist group, the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they were targeting the CPEC,” the newspaper said.

The CPEC has been opposed by India for running through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

CPEC: Pakistan prostrating before Chinese imperialist designs, Pak scholar says in Kolkata

China Pakistan Economic Corridor has sparked off fears of China ‘taking over’ his country, Pakistani author S Akbar Zaidi tells HT.



S Akbar Zaidi is one of Pakistan’s leading political economists and a firm believer in the power of cricket to improve Indo-Pak ties.(HT Photo)

Updated: Jun 09, 2017 12:51 IST

By Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times

Professor of political economy in Columbia University and Karachi University, S Akbar Zaidi, who lives in Karachi is one of the Pakistani intellectuals who are opposed to his country’s China strategy. In Kolkata to deliver a lecture on ‘Has China Taken Over Pakistan? arranged by the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, Zaidi spoke to HT.

Q. Let’s start with the title of your talk. Has china taken over Pakistan?

A. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a Chinese project for protecting and expanding Chinese interests, and Pakistan just happens to be part of the geographical terrain. Let me now quote Senator Tahir Mashhadi, chairman of the senate standing committee on planning and development, to reflect on the question. He has warned, “Another East India Company is in the offing.”

Q. Does that mean Pakistan turning into China’s economic colony?

A. From the influence of American imperialism for most of its existence, Pakistan gave way to Saudi intrusion in domestic, cultural and social affairs, and now has prostrated itself in front of Chinese imperial designs. Pakistan will temporarily gain from Chinese investment in the infrastructure and connectivity sectors. There will be some job creations, especially for the unskilled labourers and Pakistan will immediately gain from power generation. Its GDP could shoot up by 3%.

Read: China-Pak corridor: Scholar says stop project to sort out differences with India

However, several experts have cautioned Pakistan about how Chinese terms and investment turned sour in Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and several parts of Africa. In both Sri Lanka and Tajikistan, with rising costs and debts incurred by the host countries, large chunks of land were handed over to the Chinese in lieu of unpaid funds. There are fears that Pakistan could be reduced to being a ‘vassal state’.

Q. How would you weigh the pros and cons of the economic corridor?

A. Perhaps the most important thing we don’t know, despite the government’s claim that it is the ‘most scrutinised project’ ever, is: What will CPEC cost, now, and later? Whatever we have got to know is because of media leaks. Islamabad will reportedly award contracts for all CPEC projects to the Chinese, who may or may not partner with local firms, and may or may not, procure material from local manufacturers.

Read: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the Great Game of this century

Trade provisions are unfairly tilted towards Chinese companies and many Pakistani businessmen are afraid that they will be wiped out. People have not yet been told whether the Chinese investments are grants or loans. One of the terms reportedly says the Chinese will use Pakistani media to disseminate Chinese culture in Pakistan for the alleged purpose of ‘strengthening mutual ties’, while no one knows whether Pakistanis or Chinese personnel will man the elaborate electronic surveillance system to be installed by the Chinese.

Q. Is this why the Chinese foreign affairs ministry is applauding the role of Pakistan in CPEC?

A. It shows the two countries are working very closely to make it a success. The country, however, has been subservient to the Chinese and its appeasement of Chinese interests around CPEC.

Q. There are reports of planned Chinese military base in Pakistan. What is your reaction?

A. We in Pakistan have not yet got any hint of possible Chinese military base. The Pakistan Army itself is raising a whole new battalion to protect CPEC.

Q. What impact could CPEC have on Indo-Pak relations?

A. Pakistan’s obsession with China and CPEC bodes ill for any sort of rapprochement between India and Pakistan unless, of course, only if the Chinese initiate such moves, and if it fits into their grand design in the region. With China taking over Pakistan, providing it with undisclosed amount of investments, any argument of increasing trade and economic cooperation between India and Pakistan lose all urgency. When you have China, who needs India?

Q. How strong is the voice in Pakistan in favour of reducing Indo-Pak tension?

A. It is getting louder; especially the young generation appears keen on friendship between the two countries rather than enmity. There is great demand of Indian entertainment content in Pakistan, but possibly it is cricket that can play the most important role. Indo-Pak relations significantly improved following India’s tour of Pakistan in 2003, but things changed after the Mumbai attack of 2008 and have not improved since. Even at this juncture, resumption of Indo-Pak cricket series can be the best starting point

Can't allow our seas to turn into zones of contention: India

By PTI | Updated: Jun 09, 2017, 11.21 AM IST

The Ocean Conference, which opened at the world body's headquarters on June 5 and will wrap up today, is the first ever such summit convened by the UN.

UNITED NATIONS: Seas cannot be turned into zones of contentionIndia has said as it reiterated the importance of freedom of navigation on the high seas and resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means. 

"The rapid and sustained economic growth across oceans is proof that the world's economic engines are purring to a new tune in the 21st century. We must turn this into the harmony of a great choir, where each of us is an equal voice," Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar said yesterday, addressing the UN Ocean Conference in the General Assembly here. 

The Ocean Conference, which opened at the world body's headquarters on June 5 and will wrap up today, is the first ever such summit convened by the UN. 

The conference focuses on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. It aims to presents a platform for the world to reverse the precipitous decline of the health of the oceans and seas with concrete solutions. 

Addressing the conference on World Oceans Day, Akbar stressed that the 21st century will be shaped by the principles of "equality and sovereignty" and those who believe in discord have no place in a choir. 

"The nations of oceans are often called small. We do not believe in small or big: every nation is sovereign. Capacities might vary, but all nations have equal rights," he said. 

He emphasised that seas cannot be turned into zones of contention, adding that secure and open sea lanes are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development. 

"We cannot allow our seas to turn into zones of contention. An age of shared prosperity demands co-operation... In this context, India reiterates the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means," in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Akbar said. 

Given that India has over 7,500 km of coast, more than a thousand islands and with more than a third of Indians living along the coast, Akbar said India is acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities that oceans represent - from sustainable fisheries to prevention and control of marine litter and plastic pollution, from affordable renewable energy to eco-tourism and early warning systems for disaster risk reduction and management, building resilience and adaptation to climate change. 

Warning that the negative impact of overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change are becoming increasingly clear, Akbar said the time for action is "already long overdue". 

Akbar stressed that fishermen deserve to be at the core of any action plan that is arrived at in global summits such as the Ocean Conference. 

"We must devise actionable means to improve their lives; to minimise the conflicts that arise from competition, and, most of all, end the exploitation that is often their fate. Our rules, regulations and laws must serve the impoverished first," he said. 

He cited the ambitious Sagarmala project launched last November in India that focuses on port modernisation, connectivity and coastal community development involving more than 400 projects over the next two decades. 

He informed the global summit that India continues to expand its development partnership, especially with Small Island Developing States (SIDS). India has committed a sum of 500 million dollars as grant-in-aid and a billion dollars in soft loans for its SIDS partners over the next three years. 

"India also believes that there cannot be sustainable development without sustainable engagement among blue nations. The framework for such sustainable engagement needs to be reinforced," he said