Skip to main content

Can Pakistan Protect CPEC?

A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship is readied for departure prior to a ceremony at Gwadar port, about 435 miles, 700 km, west of Karachi. Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2016.

Image Credit: AP Photo/Muhammad Yousuf

An attack on a luxury hotel in the heart of Gwadar proves that Pakistan’s military-centric approach is failing.

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

May 20, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undoubtedly, Gwadar – the port city in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea —  is the backbone of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is why it has been in the center of media attention ever since the announcement of the multi-billion dollar project. In this regard, Pakistan’s prosperity is also linked to the development of the Gwadar port project. On some occasions, Pakistani officials have gone as far as to assert that Gwadar has the potential of changing the fate of the whole region.

But on May 12, Baloch militants carried out an assault in the heart of CPEC.

Three armed militants reportedly stormed the luxury Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar. The attackers were killed, but only after killing five people inside the hotel and a soldier.

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

CPEC is part of China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative. It seeks to link China’s western and less-developed Xinjiang region with Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. This plan will give China valuable access to the Arabian Sea.

From the beginning, China has been concerned about the threats to CPEC in Pakistan in general and in Balochistan in particular. The southern Pakistani province is home to a long-running insurgency by various Baloch ethnic militias aiming for independence. To address China’s concerns, Pakistan has taken action against militant groups, including banned religious outfits. Over the years, the Pakistani authorities have been able to restore peace in many areas that were previously volatile. There have also been reports of Baloch nationalist militants surrendering before the authorities.

But those gains have proven to be short-lived. The May 12 attack in Gwadar was not a one-off; in November 2018 Baloch militants attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi. Once again, these groups are gaining momentum and are carrying out attacks to show their presence. Clearly, the militants have only been driven underground, not exterminated once and for all.

The brazen nature of May’s attack was notable. Ever since CPEC was unveiled, security has been beefed up in Gwadar. The whole town of Gwadar city now resembles a military cantonment. Foreign journalists visiting Gwadar have not been allowed to enter the port city without “No-Objection Certificates” (NOCs). Locals who visit other areas of Pakistan are regularly asked to show their national identity cards to step back inside their own hometown. Despite these intense security measures, militants were able to attack a luxury hotel in the heart of Gwadar.

The Gwadar incident suggests that Pakistan has not been able to fully address Chinese concerns. Instead, these concerns are further compounding by the day. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has not been able to satisfy Chinese authorities over CPEC; it doesn’t help that under Khan’s government, there has been talk of renegotiating certain CPEC projects with China. Although those reports were later officially denied, the Chinese were taken aback at the new demands.

China wants CPEC to be successful at any cost. That is why the Chinese have been trying to reach out to some Baloch separatist leaders on their own. Yet those efforts have not borne fruit. On the contrary, things have become even uglier since China’s reported negotiations with Baloch separatists.

Baloch nationalists have shown their hostility toward CPEC from the very beginning. Baloch separatists have posted videos on social media vowing to carry out attacks against CPEC projects. According to them, these development projects are a threat to Baloch identity. In recent months, Baloch separatists have increased attacks in and out of the province. Last month, on April 18, around a dozen armed men killed 14 bus passengers in Ormara, Balochistan, including 11 members of Pakistan’s navy, coast guard, and air force. And as mentioned earlier, last year in November, the the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) carried out an assault on Chinese consulate in Karachi, in which two policemen and two civilians were killed.

Besides Baloch nationalists, ordinary Balochs are also apprehensive about the future of Gwadar port project. Many Balochs are concerned that they are going to be outnumbered by a wave of outside migration to the province, as more non-Balochs come hoping to reap the benefits of CPEC. As a whole, Baloch fear that they will lose their identity if they are outnumbered in their own province following the development of Gwadar and completion of CPEC projects in Balochistan. Meanwhile, shockingly, there is a dearth of clean drinking water, electricity, and other facilities for the locals of Gwadar, the epicenter of CPEC.

The government of Pakistan has failed to address these apprehensions. Instead, these fears are only increasing. For instance Gwadar’s local fishermen are being displaced, gradually but noticeably, from their main site of fishing in the name of development. If the government involved locals in the overall development of the Gwadar port project, the Balochs themselves would stand like a wall against any untoward incidents. But instead of getting local buy-in, the authorities are doubling down on militarizing Gwadar. This security-centric approach cannot prevent all attacks, as May 12 proved.

The recent attack on the only five-star hotel in Gwadar – with the explicit goal of targeting foreigners — has raised some serious questions about the security of CPEC. Already, foreign investors, including Chinese, have security concerns about investing in the province. Under these circumstances, the state of Pakistan needs to provide a secure environment to investors, so that they will not shy away from investing in Balochistan in general and in Gwadar in particular. But before doing that, the state must involve the local Balochs in the overall development of the Gwadar and CPEC projects. If not, the situation in Balochistan will continue to deteriorate, which does not augur well for the future of the port town.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/05/can-pakistan-protect-cpec/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

https://www.csis.org/analysis/rise-china-europe-railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…