Skip to main content

Pakistani minister: 'CPEC linked to civilian supremacy'

In an interview with DW, Pakistan's minister for ports and shipping, Hasil Bizenjo, talks about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and the "necessity" of civilian supremacy for its success.

DW: You said in a recent statement that NATO had shown interest in using Pakistan's Gwadar port for its Afghanistan operations. How did that come about?

Hasil Bizenjo: Recently, we organized a conference in Karachi, inviting businessmen, importers and exporters, as well as a NATO contractor. There we discussed the Afghan transit issue also. The contractor requested us to allow NATO shipments to Afghanistanthrough Gwadar. We studied the proposal but eventually turned it down.

What was the reason behind that decision?

US-Pakistan ties are going through a bad phase right now. We cannot allow it at the moment.

Is China also against the NATO proposal?

Beijing has nothing to do with it; the US attitude is responsible for it. Having said that, it is likely that with the improvement in US-Pakistan relations, our government could reevaluate the NATO request in the future.

Bizenjo: 'There are some elements in Pakistan who want to derail the democratic set up in the country and replace it with technocracy or presidency'

The Gwadar port is a vital part of China's multibillion-dollar CPEC project. Do you think that the Iran-India Chabahar port project could diminish Gwadar's significance in the region?

The construction of one port never negatively impacts the construction of another port. There are many ports in a small place like Dubai. Hundreds of ports are functioning smoothly in India. Also, Chabahar cannot challenge Gwadar because the latter is nearer to Afghanistan. Therefore, the Gwadar port will not be affected by Chabahar.

Baluchistan's separatist groups, and also some political analysts, say that China, through CPEC, is turning Pakistan into its economic colony. They also say that Gwadar's local population is being neglected in CPEC-related jobs. How will you respond to this criticism?

The Gwadar port is still in its initial construction phase. There is still no big industry in the city. We can only gauge the impact of the project once it will be completed. But I am sure locals will hugely benefit from the project because China can never bring a big workforce to the area. China can only get some engineers and technical staff for supervision in certain areas of the project. There are only Baloch populations living in and around Gwadar, and the Baloch people will ultimately be the beneficiaries.

Last year, some media reports claimed that China was building a military base in Gwadar. China's foreign ministry swiftly denied those reports. How did those claims originate?

I believe the Indian lobby in the West spreads these kinds of lies. The question is that why would Beijing even think of establishing a military base in Gwadar? A military installation in the area would mean that China would want to get into a direct conflict with regional and international powers. And Pakistan is also not in a position to become part of it.

You're a veteran Baloch politician and an ally of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted by the Supreme Court in July last year on corruption allegations. How did Sharif's dismissal impact CPEC's implementation?

Democracy and development can't be divorced. There are some elements in Pakistan who want to derail the democratic set up in the country and replace it with technocracy or presidency. But these forces will never succeed in their plans. The general elections will be held on time this year and there will be a new government. Nawaz Sharif is a popular leader and many media groups have claimed that his Muslim League party will likely win the vote again.

The supremacy of the civilian rule in Pakistan is necessary to carry forward the country's development projects. Pakistan cannot go against international trends. All regional countries, including India, are following the economic development path. And the good thing is that Punjab, which has the biggest political clout in the country, has also joined this struggle for parliamentary supremacy and politics of development in the shape of former PM Sharif. I'm very optimistic about the future of democracy in Pakistan.

Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo is the minister for ports and shipping in Pakistan. He hails from the Baluchistan province and heads the National Party, which demands greater rights for the Baloch people within the framework of constitutional democracy.

The interview was conducted by Shamil Shams in Karachi.


Popular posts from this blog

Balochistan to establish first medical university

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

5 Shia Hazara community members gunned down in Pakistan

Five members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.This is not the first time that members of the Hazara community have been targeted in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.(Reuters File Photo)Updated: Sep 11, 2017 00:20 ISTBy Press Trust of India, Press Trust of India, KarachiFive members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.The gunmen targeted a car in Kuchluck area of Quetta while it was coming from the Chaman border crossing area, police said.The firing took place when the travellers had stopped at a filling station to refuel their vehicle. Five people of the Shia Hazara community, including two women, died in …

China’s 'Digital Silk Road': Pitfalls Among High Hopes

Will information and communication technologies help China realize its Digital Silk Road?By Wenyuan WuNovember 03, 2017In his speech at the opening ceremony of China’s 19th Party Congress, President Xi Jinping depicted China as a model of scientific and harmonious development for developing nations. Xi’s China wants to engage the world through commerce but also through environmental protection and technological advancement. This includes Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change with information and communication technologies (ICTs) that it plans to export along its “One Belt One Road” initiative (OBOR). Xi may have ambitious plans, but could China be throwing up obstacles in its own way?In his speech, the Chinese president emphasized the need to modernize the country’s environmental protections. The Chinese state is taking an “ecological civilization” approach to development and diplomacy, with a natio…