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Amid COVID-19 outbreak, CPEC project should be halted: European think tank

ANI | Updated: Mar 27, 2020 15:00 IST

Amsterdam [Netherlands], (ANI) March 27 (ANI): Experts believe that amid a health crisis triggered by the rapidly spreading coronavirus, it is more important to focus on containing the infection rather than continuing with the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through the illegally administered territory of Gilgit Baltistan.
Junaid Qureshi, the Director of European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) told ANI, "While the world battles to contain the spread of the pandemic infection, it would have been in everyone's interest to put a halt to such activities, not only because the construction of the project is done in an illegally-occupied territory, but a large number of Chinese workers and companies have been stationed there since years, ostensibly for 'construction' purposes."
In Gilgit Baltistan, a part of erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, the total tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases has surged to 88. One person has so far died of the disease in the region.
Qureshi believes that as China's inflation is rising, its growth has slowed down to the lowest rates in the past few decades, especially due to its trade-war with the United States earlier this year. At present, the country is further dealing with the adverse economic losses due to the pandemic disease.
"As such, I believe that the statement of the Pakistani Foreign Minister (Shah Mahmood Qureshi to continue the economic projects) stems more from worry rather than confidence," the expert added.
Qureshi, who hails from Srinagar, said, "While the minister (Shah Mahmood Qureshi), since August 5, last year, has been wailing from every rooftop that he as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan as self-styled protectors of the rights of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir, but both seem to be least bothered regarding the situation of the Kashmiris living under Pakistan's occupation itself."
"On the contrary, both seem to be willing to sacrifice the people living in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan at the altar of their country's so-called all-weather friendship with China," the expert noted.
Many experts believe that countries which are a part of China's One Belt One Road initiative are paying a hefty price for their participation in the flagship programme as they have been severely affected from the deadly virus despite the geographic distance from the epicenter of the outbreak. (ANI)


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