Friday, June 16, 2017

China, Normally Protective of a Disputed Sea, Gives India a Rare Nod

https://www.voanews.com/a/china-india-south-china-sea-tsunami-warning/3902997.html

June 16, 2017 5:38 AM

Ralph Jennings

FILE - Indian women throw flowers into the sea as an offering during a ceremony for the victims of the 2004 tsunami at Marina Beach in Chennai, Dec. 26, 2016.

Share

See comments

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — 

China is responding to pressure to work with other countries that claim rights to a vast disputed sea by voicing support for India’s proposed tsunami alert system.

India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences is working on a South China Sea warning system that would transmit data to Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia after any earthquakes threaten those countries with a towering tsunami that could wipe out coastal populations, multiple Indian media outlets have said since May.

An Indian Ocean tsunami that hit India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar among other countries in 2004 killed at least 230,000 people. Beijing has chided India before over use of the South China Sea, but the Chinese foreign ministry says improved early warnings would help every side’s interests.

FILE- A buoy, which is a part of a tsunami warning system developed by GITEWS (German-Indonesian Contribution for the Installation of a Tsunami Warning System), floats in on the sea off Java island, Indonesia, Nov. 15, 2005.

Regional interest

“It’s not an India-specific initiative from what I remember, so given that background we may not be surprised that the Chinese have not reacted adversely,” said Brahma Chellany, professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research.

South China Sea states may have discussed the tsunami warning system with New Delhi before the plan was made public, Chellany added.

Regional interest in a tsunami warning system, the Chinese president’s reputation at home and international pressure on Beijing may have further prompted the consent from China to India, experts say.

Beijing claims more than 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea, overlapping the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Since a world arbitration court ruled last year against the legal basis for China’s maritime claims, Beijing has sought talks with other players.

No India claim to South China Sea

India does not have a claim to the sea, which is prized for its fisheries, fossil fuel reserves and shipping lanes.

But when Vietnam and India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. agreed to explore off the Vietnamese coast more than a decade ago, China “strongly objected,” said Richard Cronin, a Southeast Asia Program fellow with The Stimson Center think tank in Washington.

“China has always had an opposition to foreign interference in its domestic affairs, of course, and also in regional affairs, and India, although it’s part of Asia, is perceived as an outside actor in terms of the South China Sea,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

“China and India have quite a complex relationship,” Spangler said. “They have their own territorial disputes along their land borders, and that’s been true for a long, long time.”

India and China dispute two border areas. China also frets over India because it has the world’s second largest population and is historically backed by Western powers. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants a stronger role for his country internationally, particularly in economic matters around Asia.

India to deploy buoy

The tsunami warning system may be set up in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, where the two countries are looking for gas, Cronin said. Some parts of the sea are considered less disputed than others, Spangler said, and that would be one.

India is apparently planning to deploy just a “big buoy with sensors,” suggesting that India is giving more hype to Chinese approval than seems warranted, Cronin said.

“Of course it may be a symbolic gesture by China, but a small one,” he said. “The idea that China deigns to grant India permission means no change in China’s expansive and illegal claims.”

South China Sea Territorial Claims

Countries from Southeast Asia to Washington dispute Chinese construction of artificial islands for military use, giving itself a lead in controlling the sea.

China’s nod to the Indian warning system will likely be a one off, said Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines, Metro Manila.

Beijing’s often virulently worded, state-managed Global Times newspaper online has quoted a Chinese analyst calling the warning system “an expression of India sticking its hand into South China Sea affairs.”

But China may have calibrated the go-ahead to India to show off its conciliatory maritime policy before a Chinese Communist Party congress late this year when President Xi Jinping is expected to seek another term as chairman, Batongbacal said.

“They’ve been trying to polish up their image (over) the past year because the coming congress is an important time for Xi Jinping and his consolidation of power, so I think that they’re trying to show that this foreign policy has been working,” he said.

Beijing may react more harshly when India actually sets up the warning system, Spangler said.

China will start trials this year on its own system, which it is coordinating with a Pacific Ocean tsunami alert setup under UNESCO’S Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the official Xinhua News Agency in Beijing said

What’s Happening at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port?

http://thediplomat.com/2017/06/whats-happening-at-pakistans-gwadar-port/

Despite big promises, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is yet to deliver local benefits.

By Zofeen T Ebrahim

June 17, 2017
 

A stray dog snoozes under a red boat lying next to a rickety tea shop on the quay at Sur Bandar, where a few dozen small boats are bobbing in the Arabian Sea. The water is clear and a school of fish is swimming near the shore. The fishermen gather and chat over cups of a strong, sweet concoction they call “doodh-patti” as they watch the world go by. I ask some if they have heard of the much-touted China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but they shake their heads.

The harbor front is quiet compared to the one at Gwadar, some 20 kilometers away, where a Chinese deep sea port is under construction, promising to transform the sleepy town into a global trading hub.

CPEC is a 3,000-kilometer corridor from Kashgar in western China to Gwadar in Pakistan on the Arabian sea. It slices through the Himalayas, disputed territories, plains, and deserts to reach the ancient fishing port of Gwadar. Huge Chinese funded infrastructure projects, including road and railway networks as well as power plants, are being built along the way. Originally valued at $46 billion, the corridor is estimated at $62 billion today.

CPEC is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive regional trade and diplomatic venture that covers both land and maritime routes linking China to the rest of Asia and to Europe.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

The port under construction at Gwadar is owned by the Pakistan government’s Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) and operated by state-run Chinese firm China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), which will run it for 40 years.

For China, Gwadar is strategically perched near the Arabian or Persian Gulf and close to the Strait of Hormuz, through which an estimated 40 percent of the world’s oil passes. Gwadar is a gateway to the oil rich Middle East, and central and South Asia.

Gwadar and CPEC

Elsewhere in Pakistan, not a day passes without someone from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz making a reference to CPEC or how it will bring prosperity to the length and breadth of Pakistan, and in particular to Gwadar. Yet the voices of fishermen in Gwadar – who make up 80 percent of the district’s 185,000 inhabitants – have been largely ignored. A recent report showcasing Chinese plans for CPEC, published by the newspaper Dawn, appears to validate the notion that locals are not contributing to the development of CPEC.

In Sur Bandar, rumours are rife that there will be an influx of fisherman who’ve been displaced by the Gwadar project. Saeed Mohammad, president of the Anjuman Itehad Mahigiran Sur Bandar (the Sur Bandar fishermen organization), says he has heard from “those in the know” that it will happen but does not know when.

“There is not enough space for their boats to berth here, it’s not even enough for us,” he exclaims, gesturing to the docking area.

There are about 5,000-7,000 fishermen with 1,000 or so boats in Sur Bandar, he says, while the number in Gwadar is about three times that.

The Gwadar Development Authority is constructing a jetty at Sur Bandar, which the residents suspect will eventually accommodate the fishermen from Gwadar. The fishermen say the jetty’s breakwaters have been badly designed and that engineers failed to consult them in the process.

Reluctant Migrants

The fishermen in Gwadar are also concerned that they will have to relocate to Sur Bandar.

“We will not leave,” says Dad Karim. “This is the spot where we can fish all year round. At Sur, there are three months – June, July, and August – when fishermen cannot go out to sea due to high waves.”

Gwadar, he explains, is naturally protected by a hammerhead-shaped peninsula, which forms two almost perfect semi-circular bays on either side.

“It will take us two hours by boat to reach Sur because our homes are here,” says Naseem Gajar, a fisherman with dark glasses fashionably perched on his head. “Why don’t they shift us to New Mullah Band where they shifted the first set of fishermen some ten years back?”

In 2007, during the first phase of the construction of the port, about a hundred families living in a century-old settlement known as Mullah Band were relocated. They were promised alternative land to build homes, plots in a housing project, and cash.

“I wouldn’t say we were not compensated, but some of our property has been grabbed by the land mafia,” says former fisherman Saleh Mohammad, who now works in the cement business.

In addition, they were promised a hospital, a school and proper roads. Ten years later, the new Mullah Band still has none of these basic services. The only school is far away and the teacher seldom turns up.

Not that the situation in Gwadar is much better, although they have heard many promises in the last 12 years.

On his visit to Gwadar earlier this year, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said 1,100 kilometers of road would be built within the city. “When roads are made, success follows; schools are built, colleges are built, hospitals are built… industries are established and progress and prosperity flourish,” he said.

Currently the town, which is situated in one of Pakistan’s poorest provinces, Balochistan, lacks even basic services. A local journalist, Behram Baloch, says healthcare is rudimentary and for women it is almost non-existent. For childbirth complications they must travel to Turbat or even Karachi, nearly 500 kilometers away.

Vocational Training – Will Locals Benefit?

The Chinese company says the fishermen’s livelihoods will not be affected and that once the port factories are set up there will be no shortage of work. “They will all be absorbed in activities related to their own occupation be it fish processing, or value addition,” says Dadullah Yousaf, a local working with the COPHC as deputy manager in planning and development.

He adds: “Those who want to continue fishing will be provided with technology, nets, boats, and engines for them to go out to sea.”

Yousaf says that in 20 years there could be as many as two million people employed in Gwadar from the local area, elsewhere in Pakistan and several thousand Chinese workers. “They will buy fish from the fishermen at market rates and eliminate the middlemen so [local fisherman will] make maximum profits.”

But the fishermen do not feel reassured. Despite new jobs opening up for skilled workers in Gwadar, locals with fewer skills and no education fear that they will be left behind. “We do not know anything other than fishing” is a refrain you hear wherever you go.

But local teacher and poet Mr. Firaq disagrees. He says new livelihoods for local people and vocational training are needed in case their occupations are lost.

“We are already late. In fact, this should have been a priority even before the construction of the port began back in 2000,” he laments. “Development is associated with economic growth and the social and human cost remains off the state’s radar. The locals were never involved in any port activity because they are not skilled.”

However, the port authorities are planning for skills development in the second phase of construction with plans for a vocational training institute in Gwadar. “Until the institute is set up, the GPA will hold classes in the old building of the Gwadar Degree College. There are 17 classrooms there which we plan to renovate and within two months begin the courses in motor winding, crane and fork-lifter maintenance, welding and Chinese language,” he said.

But even if the locals acquire those skills, they may find it difficult to earn as much as they do now. In a week, the fishermen can make from 20,000-50,000 Pakistani rupees ($188-471). The wages of an unskilled worker at the port are not more than 20,000 rupees a month, and those of skilled labor, somewhere between 28,000-50,000 rupees ($264-471) a month.

Port Development – Slow to Launch

For the nearly 800 strong Chinese and Pakistani workforce, the port and free trade zone is a forlorn place. The area is cordoned off by about 300 men from the Pakistan Navy stationed inside the port, says Dadullah Yousaf.

When I visit, there are no ships berthing or trucks loading and unloading. Shabbir Ahmed, the private secretary to the chairman of the Gwadar Port Authority, assures me that the “ships come and go” and I just happened to have come on an unusually quiet day. He is among the oldest hands at the port, having been employed there since 2004.

Since the first ship berthed in March 2008, around 200 ships have arrived, bringing anything from wheat to fertilizer, dates to camels. “So far, we have only shipped out containers of sardines from Pakistan,” says Yousaf.

In its first phase, the port was developed jointly by the governments of Pakistan and China at a cost of 17 billion rupees ($288 million) and inaugurated in March 2007. Control of the port was then handed over to the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) under a concession agreement for 40 years.

However, PSA was unable to expand or bring business to the port and concessional rights were transferred back to the COPHC in 2013.

At any given time, the port can berth two or three large ships with capacity of 50,000 DWT (dead weight tonnage). By 2045, the port will be able to berth 150 ships and cargo up to 400 million tonnes, and will have multiple logistics services, a huge storage facility and a nine-square kilometre industrial free trade zone (GPFZ). Phase one of the GPFZ will be ready by early 2018 – and will include a pipe plant, a cold storage and fish processing area, an e-bike factory, and display centers for Chinese goods. The entire zone will be fully operational in seven to eight years and house over 400 companies and Pakistani-Chinese joint ventures.

Power and Water Crises

Inside the port, one can be forgiven for thinking there is an endless supply of electricity, gas, and water. The port generates its own electricity and desalinates water. But these luxuries are only available at the port or in the town’s only five-star hotel. The rest of the town must contend with long power outages.

Despite being surrounded by deep sea, water is a precious commodity in Gwadar – a desert town suffering from chronic drinking water shortages.

Once the port activities expand and the GPFZ develops, it will need much more water and electricity. To meet these needs, the government wants to build two coal-fired power plants of 150 megawatts each at Karwat, about 40 kilometres from Gwadar, at a cost of 55 billion rupees ($520 million).

Dadullah Yousaf insists the GPFZ will not use any electricity that is produced from coal. “I assure you; we’ve just signed an environmental agreement with investors stating we will not use dirty fuel there,” he says.

The government is drawing up a 2050 plan for Gwadar to take care of all the water woes including its water supply, distribution, and sewerage collection and treatment plants at an estimated cost of $130 million.

Meanwhile, the townspeople are clamoring for potable water now. The nearby Ankara Kaur dam does not fulfil local needs. The city requires 4.6 million gallons of water per day but is expected to need 12 million by 2020. New dams are in the pipeline and a planned desalination plant may provide clean water to the local people. However, there is little to see on the ground.

Locals say they have faced an ongoing water crisis for the past five to six years. The government periodically must take emergency measures to provide water from the Mirani and Belar dams through tanker deliveries.

The Chinese at the Port

There are over 300 Chinese people working as both unskilled workers and skilled engineers and in senior management positions living inside the port. For security reasons, they all live in a community that was built in just two months. A home away from home, it looks spartan, but has a gymnasium, a table tennis and snooker room, a karaoke room, and even a mini astro-turf football field. They work for six months and get three weeks off to go back to China.

A manager with the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), Victor Jia keeps himself busy with work. “Honestly, if you ask me, I cannot tell you what Gwadar is like; I have hardly experienced what it is to live in this town and you can only do that if you meet the people freely and get acquainted with their culture, their music, their way of life, and politics.”

He has found a new hobby – fishing – although that is restricted, too, as he can only fish at the port and just inside the channel under the constant gaze of the marine security agency.

When he does go out to the city, it is always in a group and surrounded by security people. Locals always want to take his photograph. “Even then the security people are very strict, but I often tell them it’s okay to let people take selfies with us,” he says.

For Zhang Baozhong, chairman of the COPHC, the challenge is to see Gwadar in 20 years, “not as Dubai, not even Shenzhen but a city far superior than either.” Dressed in a crisp white shalwar kameez, hair neatly combed, and with a warm smile, he says he looks at Gwadar as a “clean slate.” Once the Chinese return home they will leave behind a “happier, more prosperous people.”

“It will all be worthwhile then,” he says, before leaving to make a presentation for the Chinese ambassador.

This post was originally published by chinadialogue and appears with kind permission.

Zofeen T Ebrahim is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan

Balochistan Plans To Spend Over 25 Percent Of Rs 325 Billion Budget On CPEC Projects

http://www.outlookindia.com/newswire/story/balochistan-plans-to-spend-over-25-percent-of-rs-325-billion-budget-on-cpec-projects/970784


QUETTA, PAKISTAN

FILE PHOTO-AP

The Balochistan Government plans to spend over a quarter of its Rs.325.238 billion budget for year 2017-18 on the development of social and economic infrastructure linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The budget has allocated significant but unspecified funds for completing CPEC-related projects in the province.

The PML-N-led Balochistan coalition government plans to spend Rs.328.5 billion on its operations and infrastructure development in the province during the next financial year despite a much smaller estimated resource envelope of Rs.276.4 billion, showing a hefty deficit of Rs.52.1 billion or 15 percent of the total budget outlay, the Dawn reports.

Advertisement opens in new window

The government has allocated Rs.86.011 billion for developmental expenditure and Rs.239.227 billion for non-development expenditure.

The size of the non-development expenditure has gone up by 11 percent from the original target Rs.218.2 billion for the outgoing year.

About Rs.141 billion of the total proposed expenditure will be spent on provincial government employees' pay and pensions.

According to reports, other major expenditure includes grants, subsidies and transfers to local body institutions of Rs35.9 billion, debt repayment of Rs.28 billion, investment of Rs.10 billion in the yet-to-be created Balochistan Bank and Rs.3 billion in the pension fund.

Almost 16.5 percent of the total development and current expenditure has been set aside for education.

Adviser to the Chief Minister on Financial Affairs, Sardar Aslam Bezanjo presenting the budget said improvement of law and order has been given great importance and over 31 billion rupees have been allocated for the purpose.

The provincial government with its eye on 2018 elections has announced small perks for the different segments of population in the next budget which include creation of 7,944 new jobs in the public sector.

The government also announced up-gradation of schoolteachers, clerical staff at government departments, and district sports officers besides raising allowances for doctors. (ANI

Baloch leader slams Pakistan for killing civilians in Balochistan at UN

http://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/baloch-leader-slams-pakistan-for-killing-civilians-in-balochistan-at-un/1077482



Geneva [Switzerland], June 16 : Member of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) human rights wing Hakeem Wadhela Baloch has criticised Pakistan for continuously violating United Nations resolutions against torture, enforced disappearances in Balochistan, resolutions for protection of civilians during conflicts and other basic human rights at the 35th session of Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva

geneva [switzerland], June 16 : Member of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) human rights wing Hakeem Wadhela Baloch has criticised pakistan for continuously violating united nations resolutions against torture, enforced disappearances in Balochistan, resolutions for protection of civilians during conflicts and other basic human rights at the 35th session of Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

"Pakistani security forces are systematically committing gross human rights violations in Balochistan in order to suppress the peaceful demands of Baloch people for equality, justice and freedom, Hakeem said .

Speaking on the atrocities on Balochistan, Hakeem said "The ongoing attacks of civil populace, looting & burning of houses, enforced disappearances and custodial killings need immediate attention of this council. Balochistan is made a no-go zone for independent NGOs and media persons."

"It is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world.

About 430 political activists, students and civilians have been abducted by Pakistani security forces this year alone, the victims of kill and dump operations rises to 76 so far. Frequent military operations in Awaran, Kech, Kalat, Dera Bugti, Bolan & Marri areas are forcing the locals to leave their houses and migrate,"Hakeem Baloch, member of Baloch Republican Party.

An ISI attack on Bugti refugees in afghanistan killed three including two children on 5th June. Eight more including women were wounded.

My organization appeals to this council to take immediate notice of the human rights violations in Balochistan and take measures to stop the situation from deteriorating

Understanding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1436563/understanding-china-pakistan-economic-corridor/



By Zamir Ahmed Awan

Published: June 16, 2017

 SHARE TWEET

The writer is a professor at the Chinese Studies Centre of Excellence, NUST, Islamabad, and has worked as a diplomat in the Pakistan Embassy, Beijing (2010-2016)

As Chinese philosophy decisively asserts, “you cannot live in a castle made of glass while your neighbour lives in the stone ages”. This maxim offers a stark contrast to the case of the United States, a highly developed state that faces tremendous migration problems from its neighbours Mexico and Puerto Rico due to the existence of a glaring development gap in the region. Instead of increasing aid to these destitute countries, the current US administration is considering the construction of a “wall” to keep migrants out. There has not been a conclusive agreement upon which side of the border will bear the financial burden of this project. On the contrary, in accordance with the Chinese wisdom aforementioned, the Chinese mega project, One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, worth approximately $900 billion, is a regional plan which will enrich the entire Euro-Asiatic region, including China.

OBOR is a regional connectivity strategy that comprises 65 countries and six economic corridors and caters to two-thirds of the world’s population. It aims to improve infrastructure in these countries and enhance the movement of goods and people, promoting trade and exchange, generating more economic activities and employment opportunities for the whole region. This will definitely better the standard of living for people in this region of the world. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the six economic corridors proposed under the OBOR initiative. It is the shortest, most convenient and most feasible corridor, among them all. It is also the flagship project, as both governments attribute high value to its success, and are striving to make it the prototype for the rest of the world.

CPEC is not a completely novel idea. It was introduced by the first Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, General Geng Biao, in the 1960s. Geng was a visionary diplomat, general, and politician. He proposed the road linkage between China and Pakistan through Khunjerab. That is how the Karakoram Highway came to fruition. This highway was a blessing for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) because prior to its construction, locals used to travel by foot or horseback to reach Punjab and the journey often took a couple of months. With the commencement of this road, the travel was reduced to less than 24 hours. The topography of G-B encompasses a very tough terrain, high altitudes (Khunjerab Pass lies at approximately 4000m above the sea level), solid hard rocks, mountains, and extreme climate (some of the areas have minus 50 degree Celsius). Thus, the construction of the Karakoram Highway was a miracle and it is considered the eighth wonder of the world. Due to budgetary constraints and the lack of modern technology, however, the quality of the road was rather poor, with many sharp curves and steep slopes. The average speed of a vehicle could not be more than 40 kilometres per hour. But recently, the highway has been upgraded and a decent speed of 120 kilometres per hour can be maintained. Nevertheless, some sections of the Karakoram Highway are still under construction and hopefully, within the next couple of years, it will turn into a proper motorway.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under CPEC, a huge network of highways and motorways are in progress. The ML1 railway track from Karachi to Peshawar is being upgraded. Some tunnels and bridges are under construction to maintain the high speed of trains and shorten distances. A huge dry port linked by railway and motorway is under construction at Havelian, which will be a logistic hub for CPEC in the future.

Oil and gas pipelines are now in an advanced stage of completion throughout the country. One of them is an oil and gas pipeline from Gwadar to Nawabshah constructed by a Chinese company, and another from Karachi to Lahore is under the initial stages of construction by a Russian company. In the future, transportation of energy (oil, gas, LNG, etc) will be conveniently transported by pipelines, instead of with costly trucks that cause pollution. In the next few years, these pipelines will also be transporting oil and gas from Gwadar to inside China through Khunjerab, at a fraction of the cost of the sea containers going through Malacca Strait. Even if China imports only ten per cent of its requirements through CPEC pipelines, Pakistan will be earning billions of dollars in revenue, and this makes it a win-win situation for both countries.

Among the 51 projects signed during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jin Ping, priority was given to power projects that amounted to a total worth of 33 billion. Some of these power projects have been completed and have begun adding power to the National Grid. However, several of the mega projects will take some time to complete. Upon completion of these projects, it is expected that Pakistan will have sufficient power, and there will be no more shortage of power. The next stage of CPEC is under planning, also referred to as the “industrialisation” phase. The Chinese industrial sector is saturated and increasing labour cost is forcing Chinese industries to shift out of China. Pakistan is the best destination for the Chinese industry. Pakistan is planning industrial parks, special economic zones and science parks to facilitate the flourishing of the Chinese industry in Pakistan. After overcoming the power shortage, the shifting of Chinese industries into Pakistan will be accelerated.

CPEC will directly or indirectly generate around two million jobs. In the beginning, Chinese workforce will be hired in Pakistan, but gradually within a few years once Pakistan trains its workforce to the Chinese standard, Pakistanis will replace the workforce. Chinese industry will increase our productivity, reduce our imports, and enhance our exports. The economy will grow on an unprecedented scale. It will also improve the security situation in Pakistan as well as in the whole region. The aforementioned is possible if we unite and work hard. We need visionary and sincere leadership to execute this. The common man in Pakistan is honest, simple, hardworking and willing to devote himself to the cause of a prosperous nation.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2017

Pakistan is feeling more and more like a Chinatown

https://qz.com/1005661/pakistan-is-feeling-more-and-more-like-a-chinatown/


India

BROTHERS IN ARMS

Shazia Hasan 

June 15, 2017

Learning to live together. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

If you pass him by in his electronic parts and components shop in the Electronics Market in Karachi’s Saddar, Mohammad Ali Arabi would look like any other normal young Pakistani businessman. There is nothing out of the ordinary about him until you hear him conversing on the phone with someone in Mandarin.

“Seeing Ali Bhai speaking while making strange facial gestures by twisting his features to pronounce the words, at first we thought that maybe he was possessed or having some kind of a fit,” laughs another shop owner in the market. “But now we are used to his speaking the language of our Chinese friends. He is often on the phone with someone or the other in China,” the shopowner adds.

“I learnt the language back in 2002 from a Chinese lady visiting Pakistan for her work,” says Arabi. “Her work required her staying in Karachi for extended periods and I helped her get by in things such as helping her find office space, where to buy groceries from, etc. In return, I requested her to teach me her language,” he says.

“The Chinese don’t call their language ‘Chinese’ or ‘Mandarin’. They call it Putonghua,” Arabi explains. “They don’t even refer to their country as ‘China’. For them it is Zhonghua, meaning ‘central country’.

“Learning the language has helped me a lot in knowing our friends better. It has also helped me in expanding my own electronics business. I often travel to mainland China where speaking the local language helps. Though everyone there is most kind on learning that I’m from Pakistan, when they find that I am fluent in their language, too, they sell me something they will sell you for 10 Yuan for just two or three Yuan,” says Arabi.

The spoken word

At the Axinstitute for Chinese Language, Asim Qadri says that his father had stressed the importance of learning Chinese 20 years ago. “There was no talk of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor [CPEC] back then,” he explains. “But I believe my father was a great visionary and a very wise man indeed to have realised all those years ago that the old friendship between China and Pakistan would pave the way for further interaction between the two peoples. He said it was going to be the language of the future in this region. He could speak German and Arabic himself and for us he predicted the importance of Chinese.”

Having acted on his father’s advice, Qadri now teaches the language at his institute in Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal along with also offering courses at some of the biggest and best universities of the city.

Asim Qadri teaching Mandarin at the Axinstitute for Chinese Language (Dawn)

“The language may seem difficult to you at first but not after I explain the fundamentals to you,” Qadri explains to his class. “Speaking Chinese is all about tone. The language constitutes four basic syllables. The meaning of a word in Chinese may change according to the tone or syllable used in pronouncing it. It may be the same word though. Also,” he adds, “like we have alphabets in Urdu and English, there are no alphabets in Chinese. Maybe written Chinese may seem like a bunch of insects to you at first but after careful study you would notice that they are pictograms. Writing ‘tree’ will have you actually drawing a symbol that looks like a pine tree, writing ‘heart’ will have you draw the outline of a heart,” he demonstrates while writing on the board,” he says.

The majority of Qadri’s students are businessmen or professionals working in fields where they have plenty of interaction with the Chinese. “So they want to learn functional or spoken Chinese. I have specially designed short courses for them. After studying one module, those who already have some interaction with the native Chinese are able to build further on their language skills through practice,” he points out.

One of Qadri’s students, Maria Qayyum Farooqui, a project communications executive with an events management company, says that they get Chinese delegations that they are expected to communicate with all the time. “Chinese people are very sharp. They understand a bit of Urdu and English, too. But we are at a disadvantage when trying to get our message across to them,” says Maria.

Some years ago, Mohammad Aftab, a youth from Abbottabad working with the Indus Motor Company Limited found an opportunity to travel to Korea. He wanted to work there but as things didn’t work out according to plan, he found himself travelling to China on a five-year visa. During his stay there he got by doing small jobs. He also learnt the local language. Aftab wanted to stay on in China as he couldn’t really envision making a life for himself in his native Abbottabad. But after overstaying his welcome there—when his visa expired—the young man was unceremoniously deported to Pakistan.

A bank signboard in Mandarin and English at Gwadar airport. (Shazia Hasan)

Aftab’s story doesn’t end just there. After coming back here, he worked as a part-time electrician for some time, earning around 500 rupees a day, when he could find work here, that is. It was like this until he realised that he possessed a valuable skill—fluency in the Chinese language. Today, he is employed with the Hazara Motorway Project and the high-paying job he landed is because of his fluency in Mandarin. Aftab earns almost 200,000 rupees monthly as the main liaison person between the local workers and the Chinese technicians working with the company to build roads.

Knowledge is power

The news, two years ago, that Mandarin as a subject was to be made mandatory in schools in Sindh from class six to class 10 was frowned upon by many who questioned the idea behind teaching of an alien language when kids here hadn’t even mastered the regional or official languages.

A copy of the Quran in Chinese with writing implements. (Shazia Hasan)

Under the MoU signed between the Sindh government education department and Chinese education department, schools in Sindh are to teach Mandarin while imparting knowledge about Chinese culture and values with the help of China. Under the scheme students learning Mandarin will be awarded extra marks, scholarships and be given opportunities for further education in China.

Though implementation of that decision is yet to be seen, there are some schools that have taken up the task of teaching Chinese to their pupils. One such chain of schools that goes by the name of the Roots School System (which has branches across Pakistan) has started doing it already.

The written word

Communication also includes publishing periodicals for the Chinese readership in Pakistan. The Chinese mean business and Huashang is the first business news magazine in Mandarin, which has been serving a readership of 25,000 for one year now. “We have a team of Chinese journalists and Chinese translators working to bring out this fortnightly magazine, which comes out alternately with an English edition one week and a Chinese one the next,” says Umar Farooq Alvi, an editor, at the magazine’s head office in Islamabad.

“The focus of the magazines is on business. We help Chinese companies looking to invest in Pakistan understand our market better,” Alvi explains.

The magazine only publishes 5,000 copies but to reach its wider readership an e-paper is available online and on Facebook, too. “Our copies are free. We earn through advertisements,” he says. “We publish advertisements for Chinese multinational companies looking for mergers with local business houses, we carry government advertisements too,” he adds.

Getting a good response for the publication, the magazine’s management recently met to look into bringing out both their English and Chinese publications simultaneously instead of on alternate weeks. “We are discussing it now. Let’s see what happens,” Alvi says.

Banking on the Chinese

Of late, some banks have also started attracting Chinese clients through their language. Habib Metropolitan Bank happens to be the trailblazer here. One can see the bank’s name is written both in English and in Chinese on the green board above the main entrance of some of their branches, one of them being at Bilawal Chowrangi.

Sheeza Ahmed, a senior manager looking at marketing at HabibMetro says they have Chinese business desks to look after their Chinese clientele at select branches. “Currently, there are five to 10 such branches across Pakistan with at least two to three in Karachi and also in other big cities such as Lahore and Islamabad along with the one in Gilgit and Gwadar,” she says. “We have specially-trained staff for these Chinese business desks who have received Chinese language training to help our Chinese friends feel comfortable dealing with our bank. Hopefully we will also be building on our Chinese clientele in the near future because of more investment opportunities coming up here due to CPEC,” she says.

A page from Huashang, a weekly that focuses on Pakistan business news of interest to Chinese investors. (Shazia Hasan)

Another such Pakistani bank happens to be the United Bank Limited. During a recent trip to Gwadar, one could see big advertisements of the bank mounted on plaques at the airport lounge walls in both English and Chinese with pictures of the Great Wall of China.

Grocery shopping, the Chinese way

It is not about Pakistanis and their love for Pakistani-Chinese cuisine as we have enjoyed chicken corn soup, egg fried rice, noodles, sweet and sour prawns from time immemorial. It is more about whether our biryani, pulao, korma and nihari would suit the Chinese palate. In most cases it does not. And that’s what grocery stores such as Z Mart, owned by the food supply division of S. Zia-ul-Haq & Sons, does by offering Chinese groceries. The mezzanine floor of their outlet in Clifton, Karachi, boasts of a variety of neatly packaged Chinese spices and ingredients such as red long mushrooms, pickled sweet garlic, pickled kelp, pickled vegetable mix, hot pot soup, chilli threads, sweet meat seasoning, pickled mustard, red bean paste, and what not.

Snacks on sale at Z Mart, an Asian grocery store in Karachi (Shazia Hasan)

Abdul Rasheed, the shopkeeper at Z Mart, says that their company provides items subject to the demand for them. “We order containers full of Chinese food ingredients because our Chinese customers need them here,” Rasheed says. “There are so many of our Chinese friends coming to Pakistan for work because of CPEC now. We must provide them with what they want so that they can lead a comfortable life here. They should not have any problem in Pakistan and for this we have liaison officers who meet with them to find out about their preference and choice in foods and where to avail these from in China. And we get it for them,” he says.

Acting up

We see the Chinese as wise, well-meaning hard-working people and our friends, so why not see them in the romantic lead of a love story, too? Chalay Thay Saath is a Pakistani movie with a local heroine and a Chinese hero.

Movies are the prime medium to help audiences become comfortable with change or perhaps plant a new idea in their minds. “While drafting the story and script, the writer Atiya Zaidi, Umer Adil, the director and myself were skeptical initially,” says Beenish Umer, the producer of the movie. “We realised as a nation and culture giving a daughter away to another culture might not be well perceived. I remember we even had a few debates about reversing the roles, and making the leading male role Pakistani. But to be honest, after the film was released we felt the audience took very well to the story, to Adam’s character and to the Resham and Adam dynamics. Despite Chalay Thay Saath’s intention of not following a formula/masala film solution, it became a bittersweet love story which the audience grew to love,” she adds.

“To be certain, I’m sure after Chalay Thay Saath, and also taking from the current dynamics of real life relationships, the Pakistani film producers might also look into unorthodox connections and cultural differences while telling their stories. I can foresee other Pakistan-China stories as both the countries are trying to work together on co-productions,” the young producer predicts.

Of course, Resham, the heroine’s name in the movie is no coincidence. Shahrah-i-Resham or the Silk Road has served as the main artery for trade with China for a very long time now. And with CPEC, the friendship between the two countries has grown stronger. How CPEC shapes Pak-China relations in the future depends on the two countries’ approach it but one thing is for sure: Pakistan will never be the same again.

This article first appeared on Dawn.


“Balochistan is aptly described as a virtual martial law” Munir Mengal

http://www.bolantimes.com/balochistan-is-aptly-described-as-a-virtual-martial-law-munir-mengal/

on June 16, 2017

Bolan Times ( Geneva ): President Baloch Voice Association said ” Balochistan is aptly described as a virtual martial law, ”

During the 35th Human Rights Council Session which is running in United Nation Office Geneva Switzerland, Mengal said ” Despite of the state accession to international conventions on human rights, their participation in the UN human rights mechanisms and their lofty rhetoric of promoting and protecting human rights of its citizens, the degree and the extent of suffering and repression experienced by the Baloch people under the brutal control of the Islamic state is equivalent to being, as a “hell on earth”.

In His intervention President Baloch Voice Association added ” In Balochistan , all opinions and viewpoints that contradict state position on any issue are considered as “subversive”, and any information which directly or indirectly concerns the governance, policies and activities of the islamic state are viewed as state secret. Balochistan remained closed for much of 2016 and 2017 amid heavy military operations. Fear, intimi- dation and repression have become constant elements in the Baloch people lives. The state authorities pour in massive deployment of armed security personnel into Balochistan and impose strict and heavy police presence, intensify political education campaign of the Balochistan not only in institutions but also in the general populace, and generally stepped up vigilance and surveillance over the Baloch Peo- ple diaspora as well. The present atmosphere in Balochistan is aptly described as a virtual martial law”

Mentioning United Nation Role in Balochistan Baloch Missing person , President Baloch Voice Association said  said ” In September 2012, a delegation of the UN body Working Group on Enforced disappearance visited Quetta the capital city of Balochistan and met with the family members of the involuntary disap- peared persons . Although, the delegation was given a “highly controlled and censored tour” and many of the group’s questions remained unanswered. But till date the family members are looking for their loved ones. ”

On Issue of China Pakistan Economic Cooridor , Mengal said, “The security measures on the name of CPEC are viewed as a call on the ” government, military, police and to the ruling punjabi in all areas to firmly crush the political demands of the Baloch people partic- ularly defeat the voices asking to regain their soverignity on their land and had waged war on people to maintain stability in the region

Dilip Das: Pakistan's first ‘missing’ people’s case

https://www.dawn.com/news/1080174

Mr Talpur has close association with what was perhaps among the first ‘missing’ people’s cases in Pakistan. One of his fellow resistance fighters in the Marri hills was Dilip Das. In 1971, while travelling from Balochistan to Sindh, Dilip along with a Baloch companion, Sher Ali Marri, was picked up “by intelligence agencies” and never seen again.

“His mother, who lives in Karachi, is now 92 years old,” says Mr Talpur. “Even now, every time I see her she asks ‘How’s my Johnnie?’ (her nickname for Dilip). Although she hasn’t seen him since 1971, she believes maybe he’s still alive somewhere. There’s no closure for someone whose loved one has been disappeared by the state.”

Dilip, like Mr Talpur, was known as part of the London Group, a misnomer as far as the latter was concerned, given that he has never even been to London. This group, brought together by Mohammed Bhabha, comprised non-Baloch young men who left their studies in London in the early ‘70s to join the Baloch resistance. They included Najam Sethi, Ahmed Rashid, Rashed Rahman, and his younger brother Asad Rahman (who was known as Chakar Khan, and actually led some of the battles).

Pictures of the day: Baluch Liberation Front

In the picture you see Dr.Allah Nazar Baloch , rebel commander of BALOCHISTAN Liberation Front

Baloch Struggle: Punjabi characters planted by ISI in 1970's

Punjabi characters planted by ISI in 1970's betrayed Baloch freedom movement in the past.

By: Waris Baloch

These are some images of  highly educated  punjabi elite, who withdrawn their luxury lives and joined Baloch freedom struggle on the rigid mountains of Balochistan.

They won the heats and minds of Baloch people. None thought to speak against them because they were freedom fighters at that time but actually they were ISI agents in the shape, well wishers of Balochistan.

If someone at that time think of raising question about their insentives he/she was termed as traitor because these Panjabis were the frontline fighters on the mountains.

Even Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri didn't recognize their double game. It is quite possible that Mir Hazar Marri knew about their hidden agenda's because also betrayed Baloch movement and now serving Pakistan ISi and its army ruthless military offensives in Balochistan.

Who these Punjabis won the trust of Baloch leadership and people?

They took part in armed activities, they wrote articles, columns and published magazines and tabloids.

They successfully penetrated into Baloch freedom ranks, they learned Baloch language fluently, they adopted Baloch culture, tradition, Baloch name, and won the hearts and minds of not only Baloch leadership but also Baloch ordinary men.

They landed from United Kingdom to Balochistan soon after completing their graduations. Baloch leadership thought they are very good speakers, writers and of courser experienced guerrilla fighters, they taught modern techniques of guerrilla warfare to Baloch freedom fighters.

After a decade of knowing each and everything (weakness, strengths of Baloch liberation struggle) they escaped from Balochistan and went straight to Islamabad, Rawalpindi in GHQ.

Believing them Baloch faced heavy loses, their struggle was deceived by these Punjabis. Today all of them are in top positions in Pakistan.

Some of those characters and their role of past and now

1: Ahmed Rasheed, was a fighter and well writer after deceiving Baloch liberation struggle he become an author of Pakistan, an editor in english medium newspaper called DailyTimes.

2: Asad Rehman: He was also a very experienced shooter, a guerrilla of Baloch movement during 1970's but fulfilling ISI's task he also become a news editor , defense expert of Pakistan.

3: Najam Sethi: He was given the duty to publish news, article on his magazine during 1970's. He was arrested twice but was later released by the Pakistani authorities.

Mr.Najam Sethi is now the Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (head ofPCB). He also runs a TV show called Appas Ki Bath in urdu medium Pakistani TV channel, GeoNews.

Moral of the story: Baloch nation always welcomed the support of people from all sphere of live and from all nationalities. We are secular people and struggling for  free democratic Balochistan.

Tarek Fateh or anyone else, can speak on behalf of Baloch but can't decide the fate of Baloch nation. Some Indian channels consider Tarek Fateh as a Baloch which is not correct. We don't know the motives behind his extraordinary tone of speaking against Pakistan.

Question comes in mind that, if Punjabis in the past couldn't stand with Baloch liberation struggle who played very bold role by targeting Pakistan army on battle grounds alongside​ Baloch freedom fighters. How come another Punjabi origin Tarek Fateh can be trusted who only speaks on TV talk shows, abuses Pakistan, favors India and Balochistan?

News suggesting that some people have been arrested were planning to murder Tarek Fateh. Now question is why Pakistan can kill its own asset? We consider this is also a part of Pakistan ISI's plan, just to make people fool that Pakistan wants to eliminate Tarek Fateh because he abuses Pakistan and supporting Balochistan cause. Pakistan is trying to portray Tarek Fateh a harmful personality so people of India will not doubt his hidden agenda. Spreading the news of targeting Tarek Fateh obviously is the deliberate effort of Pakistan to disperse the doubts about his double game.

Further reading about Najam Sethi: >>>
https://pakistanblogzine.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/najam-sethis-role-in-the-balochistan-resistance-movement-of-1970s/

Further reading about Asad Rehman: >>>
https://www.siasat.pk/forum/showthread.php?144014-Sheikh-Asad-Rehman-leftist-activist-and-Baloch-rights-advocate-passes-away

TIMES NOW Zee News NewsX Arnab Goswami Aditya Raj Kaul Sudhir Chaudhary Rohit Sardana Jyotiprakash Nabajiban Bhavini Mistry Abhishek Sikarwar Kolhapur Sudheendra Arvind Sakpal Anil Sinha Srinivas Bharath NK Anna Moolenaar Amit Bharadwaj Chakraborty Vinod B Walia Vijaydeep Joneja Vijay Mendon Vijay Goel FBRSS - RSS Status Export We Support RSS FBRSS - RSS Status Export Rss Thalassery Cyber Army Sangh Unity Rss PMO India Sushma Swaraj Rajnath Singh We Support Republic Republic Indian Defence News Discussion South Indian Hindu Group Hindustan Hindustan Times News18 News18 India Major Gaurav Arya Major General G.D. Bakshi : Our next president. We Support Major Gaurav Arya Major General G.D. Bakshi Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Israeli-Baloch-Kurdish alliance

An Israeli-Baloch-Kurdish alliance would change the entire region. Israel has done a tremendous job of training Kurdish Peshmerga forces whom have been fighting the Islamic State.

If it were to offer the same support to  Baloch Nationalists, there is a far greater chance of eradicating the Taliban, the Haqqani network and ISIS whom have easy access to the latest weaponry and ground safe havens on Pakistani soil.

The Baloch Republican Party is seen here meeting with Israeli and Kurdish delegates. The Baloch wish to have cordial relations with the entire human family.

Quote of the day: On Baloch Sardars

🎈 Freedom is a slogan that Baloch Sardars use to correct their own errors whenever Pakistani Government doesn't listen to them.

U.S. Afghan and South Asian Policy Suffers From Strategic Stagnation


http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/15/u-s-afghan-and-south-asian-policy-suffers-from-strategic-stagnation/

LAWRENCE SELLIN

Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve

3:16 PM 06/15/2017

While Washington D.C. frets over military stalemate and troop levels, American policy in Afghanistan and South Asia is about to be overtaken by events, which potentially could render the U.S. strategically irrelevant for a generation or more.

Even the dimmest foreign policy analyst should recognize by now that the U.S. and NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan without a significant change in the strategic environment because Pakistan controls the operational tempo of the war and the supply of our troops.

Furthermore, the South Asian strategic deck chairs are being rearranged by regional powers in such a way that the U.S. will be left standing when the music stops.

The future of South Asia is now being determined by two contending economic alliances, China-Pakistan and India-Iran-Russia, neither of which envisions the U.S. as a participant.

In other words, given the trajectory of strategic developments in South Asia, the U.S. will have little or nothing to show for its enormous expenditure of blood and treasure in Afghanistan.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) 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. Similar Chinese bases are being built in Djibouti and Gwadar, Balochistan, Pakistan’s southwest province, which will allow China to extend its military reach to the entrances of the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf, respectively.

In competition to CPEC, Iran and India, both allies of Russia, are implementing a similar project in the Iranian port of Chabahar, which is about 45 miles west of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. Road and rail links will connect Chabahar to other parts of Iran and then on to Central Asia, Russia and Afghanistan, where the estimated $3 trillion in untapped Afghan mineral resources can be exploited.

The U.S. has only one card to play – Balochistan.

Balochistan, rich in natural resources, is an ethnically mixed transnational region spanning southwestern Pakistan, eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan, where the Baloch people, who have their own language and culture and have a reputation for secularism and tolerance, constitute the majority of the population.

A large section of ethnic Balochistan, independent at the time, was forcible incorporated into Pakistan by an invasion of the Pakistani Army after the partition of India in 1947. Since then, Balochistan has been the home of a festering insurgency waged by Baloch nationalists against the governments of Pakistan and Iran.

The ports of Chabahar, Iran and Gwadar, Pakistan are Balochi.

Balochistan’s natural resources have been plundered by Pakistan and Iran. Pakistani nuclear tests were conducted there without the permission of the Baloch people and the region has been subjected to military oppression for decades to extinguish ethnic aspirations and to maintain Balochistan as a de facto colony of Pakistan and Iran.

Pakistan has used Balochistan as an incubator and operational base for the Taliban and other terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, a fully owned and operated subsidiary of Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. Having adopted radical Islam as an element of its national policy, Pakistan has become a willing or unwilling host to The Islamic State, which is now conducting terrorist operations in Balochistan.

The Baloch people are natural allies of the U.S. and an independent Balochistan could dampen regional terrorism, offer a more reliable sea-land link to Afghanistan, oppose Iranian regional hegemony and counter Chinese military expansionism.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.