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CPEC will provide little benefit to locals, especially those in volatile province of Balochistan: Report

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CPEC will provide little benefit to locals, especially those in volatile province of Balochistan: Report
CPEC project Photograph:( Zee News Network )
Jan 08, 2020, 09.11 AM (IST)

Analysts have warned Pakistan that the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will provide little benefit to the locals, especially those in the marginalised and volatile province of Balochistan.

"The Belt and Road Initiative, with CPEC as its flagship, is based on infrastructure and energy projects, aimed at enhancing trade through this particular route. It is not a humanitarian intervention designed to benefit the masses. All those who perceive it that way should correct themselves," Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, the former spokesperson of the Balochistan government was quoted as saying by Asia Times.

The escalation of activity on CPEC projects comes after the incumbent Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government started its tenure in August 2018 with skepticism about Islamabad's agreement with Beijing.

The Hong Kong-based media in its report stated that during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Islamabad and Imran Khan's visit to Beijing in 2018, Pakistan was looking for a rejig of the CPEC agreements, which had been shared with China.

Prime Minister's Advisor on Commerce, Industry and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood had then reportedly expressed the government's desire to put the CPEC "on hold" while the terms were renegotiated.

This caused major embarrassment to Khan and his team during his November 2018 visit to Beijing, government officials had revealed.

A year later in October 2019, Khan arrived in Beijing seeking China's support on Kashmir and the looming blacklisting at the hands of counter-terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Pakistani government formally agreed to the terms laid out by China for the second phase of the CPEC.

"Instead of reviewing the terms of the first phase of the CPEC, Beijing has actually enforced its will on the second phase as well. There have been no changes in the execution of the projects and the road map for the corridor. In fact, China has explicitly expressed displeasure of the lack of activity over the past year and a half," revealed a senior diplomat.

Meanwhile, officials have also revealed that in addition to the CPEC power projects being "economically more expensive" for Pakistan, Beijing has the entirety of a similarly skewed plan laid out.

Immediately after Khan's visit to Beijing last year, Wang Zhiqing, China's Chief Planner of the Ministry of Transport, arrived in Islamabad to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pakistani Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, regarding the transport infrastructure of the second phase of the economic corridor.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA) was formally unveiled in October 2019.

The terms require Islamabad to return USD 21.8 billion in commercial loans and USD 7.75 billion in bilateral debt to Beijing over the next three years.

After Pakistan continued to pursue CPEC, Washington had also warned the former dubbing it as a "debt trap."

However, analysts have maintained that Islamabad rebuking the remarks clearly underlines that Imran Khan's PTI government knows that it cannot afford to offend Beijing anymore.

With Khan recently inaugurating the second phase of the multi-billion dollar project including nine SEZs, it is to be seen how the CPEC upgrade Pakistan's infrastructure and strengthen its economy.

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