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Why China has become an important factor in Pakistan general election

ANI | Islamabad | Last Updated at July 12 2018 20:04 IST


As China has "increased its presence" in Pakistan, a lot of political leaders in the latter country have started taking credit for the treaties signed as part of the strong bilateral relations between the two nations to vow voters ahead of the July 25 general elections across the border.

In an article, titled, "Is China Influencing Pakistan's Elections?" for The Diplomat magazine, Pakistani journalist Muhammad Akbar Notezai of the Dawn newspaper has analised how "China has been meticulously working to attract South Asian countries," especially one of its "friendliest neighbours" Pakistan.

The point of discussion here is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the multibillion-dollar project announced in 2014.

Ever since the announcement of CPEC, it has been a topic of discussion for politicians, businessmen, journalists, and common people belonging to different walks of life, Notezai wrote.

Adding to that, journalist Shezad Balochsaid: "A majority of Pakistanis view the multibillion dollar CPEC project as key to Pakistan's economic prosperity. All major political parties either take credit for initiating it or make promises to bring prosperity and development through CPECwhile also safeguarding the national interests."

Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself, take all the credit for CPEC at various public gatherings.

They are even highlighting CPEC in the campaign for the upcoming general elections in Pakistan, which are expected on July 25, the article stated.

"The launch of CPEC is arguably one of the most popular public policy developments in Pakistan over the last few years. The PML-N will certainly highlight it on the campaign trail and point to it as one of the great success stories of its term," said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan has been criticising the PML-N and its chief for taking credit for CPEC investments in Pakistan.

"There's little the PTI will be able to do to counter that claim, given that PTI had no role in launching or overseeing CPEC and given that CPEC is a popular policy - and particularly among voters in Punjab, which is a critical electoral battleground. By pushing back against PML-N claims about CPEC, the PTI would be committing a bad political move," Kugelman told The Diplomat

CPEC factors in local election campaigns as well.

The analysts further pointed out that if the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), a new political party recently formed in Quetta, forms the government in Pakistan, it will be easy for some forces to make deals regarding not only CPEC but Reko Diq mine and other oil and gas deals in the province.

These political developments in the country in general and in Balochistan in particular will pave the way for Chinese investments.

In fact, China was one of the major areas of dispute between the now-ousted Sharif and the establishment - the military and intelligence service, the write stated.

"CPEC provides a handy slogan for all political parties. People of all political persuasions can get behind the promise to provide basic necessities, infrastructure and development that CPEC offers," said Shezad Baloch.

Oxford University professor and author Peter Frankopan has also predicted that "China will watch the elections in Pakistanclosely."

"But what is perhaps more significant (than which party wins) will be that the election produces a clear result. Investment - and good relations - require stability and knowing what to expect in the future," he said.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/why-china-has-become-an-important-factor-in-pakistan-general-election-118071200812_1.html

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