Skip to main content

Pakistan’s ‘three evils’, CPEC and good governance

Author: Shyam Tekwani, APCSS

Setbacks to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) continue to mount, having spluttered along since its announcement as a showpiece of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in April 2015. CPEC may be further impeded by the recent alliance between Baloch and Sindhi separatist groups against Chinese interests, escalating security threats from the so-called ‘three evils’ in Pakistan — terrorismreligious extremism, and ethnic separatismPakistan must rein in the ‘three evils’ through good governance if CPEC is to ever take hold.

A supporter of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties, chants slogans with others during an anti-government protest rally in Peshawar, Pakistan 22 November, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Aziz).

Pakistan has long struggled as a perpetrator and victim of the first evil, terrorism. Last month’s decision by the United Nations Financial Action Task Force to retain Pakistan on the grey list for failing to dismantle terrorist financial infrastructure, despite repeated warnings, is indicative of Islamabad’s inconsistent approach to countering terrorism.

Pakistan’s blasphemy law remains a key challenge to securing religious freedom for the country’s religious minorities, and in combatting the second evil, extremismThese laws have been used to persecute and unfairly target minority faiths. A decision to introduce major reforms in the curriculum of over 30,000 madrassas as part of a strategy to dismantle extremist networks has lacked unwavering determination.

The decades-long insurgency by ethnic Balochs for an independent Balochistan constitutes the third evil, separatism. With abysmal quality of life indicators, prolonged neglect, repression, and exploitation of its resources, Pakistan’s largest and most impoverished province holds the key to the success or failure of CPEC. Balochistan is home to the Gwadar seaport, a deep-water access point to the Arabian Sea that is crucial to China. Stability in the province remains elusive as the marginalised Balochs fear population displacement and environmental degradation as corollaries to CPEC.

Rising anger among local communities, who believe that CPEC’s economic benefits will flow solely to the state, lends sustenance to the Baloch insurgency. Cooperation between China and Pakistan against the ‘three evils’ has emboldened Pakistan to intensify its massive campaigns of harassment and enforced disappearances of dissenters. Islamabad’s hawkish view of rebels broadly converges with China’s concerns about the ‘three evil’ forces to quash ethnic-based struggles in the region.

Islamabad’s assurances of improving security in response to China’s concerns about the ‘three evils’ during the formal launch of CPEC in April 2015 saw Balochistan become the focus of Pakistan’s military-focused counter terrorism priority. Pakistan established a special security division comprising 15,000 paramilitary forces to protect the large numbers of Chinese engineers and workers engaged to work in the province.

Demonstrations since October 2020 by 11 opposition parties decrying Prime Minister Imran Khan’s military-backed government are gathering momentum. The protesters are targeting the all-powerful military and the CPEC Authority Chairman, a retired general. These attacks reflect a growing unease with the military’s influence on the elected government and will further harm CPEC’s progress.

Pakistan’s security outlook is the worst it has been in at least three decades. With the tools of China’s smart city technology at its disposal, the temptation for Pakistan to respond to the ‘three evils’ is to opt for a replication of the Xinjiang ‘security state’ in Balochistan. The use of artificial intelligence to profile minorities in China and the surveillance of minority Muslims in southern Thailand with Chinese technologies portend this future. Beijing’s new envoy to Pakistan — a political appointee groomed in trade and religious issues — further signals intent towards surveillance.

China’s dominance in the internal affairs of Pakistan continues to grow. Islamabad dismisses the greatest repression of Muslims in the 21st century as a ‘non-issue’. China’s crackdown on Uyghur women married to Pakistani men and the trafficking of over 600 Christian minors as brides to China have barely created a ripple in Pakistan’s politics. The abandonment of Pakistani students in Wuhan was greeted with silence.

But there remains some recognition in Pakistan about the perils of becoming a Chinese vassal stateAnti-Chinese sentiment is rising, leaving Pakistan at a crossroads regarding its approach to the ‘three evils’ and appeasing China or challenging it with good governance.

Pakistan’s approach has been mainly military-focused and misses the enormous potential for good governance. Pakistan must consider how to include all of society. The recent grant of a stay by an international tribunal on a US$5.8 billion penalty imposed on Pakistan for denying a lease to an Australian company to access the Reko Diq mines in Balochistan provides Pakistan an opportunity to consider a good governance approach and to reach out to marginalised insurgents as a strategy for reducing the ‘three evils’.

It is imperative for Pakistan to be inclusive in its effort to resolve the Baloch conflict. The opportunity to address legitimate and genuine grievances through an inclusive and accommodative governance model is clearly at hand. The recent death of the powerful cleric Khadim Rizvi, who championed himself as the custodian of blasphemy laws, offers Islamabad an opportunity to take control over the narrative of blasphemy as a critical issue in its domestic politics.

As the international community grows wary of lending further support to Pakistan, CPEC appears to be the last of its opportunities to drive the country toward development and modernisation. Ridding itself of the ‘three evils’ through a good governance approach would be a good place to begin.

Shyam Tekwani is Professor at the Daniel K Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.


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 yo

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میں Please 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 daily Heavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Mason: Rs. 1,500 daily Helper: Rs. 850 daily Electrician: Rs. 1,700 daily Surveyor: Rs. 2,500 daily Security Guard: Rs. 1,600 daily Bulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Concrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Roller operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Steel fixer: Rs. 2,200 daily Iron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 daily Account clerk: Rs. 2,200 daily Carpenter: Rs. 1,700 daily Light duty driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Labour: Rs. 900 daily Para Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 daily Pipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 daily Storekeeper: Rs. 1,700 daily Office boy: Rs. 1,200 daily Excavator operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Shovel operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Computer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Security Supervisor: Rs.

A ‘European Silk Road’

publication_icon Philipp Heimberger ,  Mario Holzner and Artem Kochnev wiiw Research Report No. 430, August 2018  43 pages including 10 Tables and 17 Figures FREE DOWNLOAD The German version can be found  here . In this study we argue for a ‘Big Push’ in infrastructure investments in greater Europe. We propose the building of a European Silk Road, which connects the industrial centres in the west with the populous, but less developed regions in the east of the continent and thereby is meant to generate more growth and employment in the short term as well as in the medium and long term. After its completion, the European Silk Road would extend overland around 11,000 kilometres on a northern route from Lisbon to Uralsk on the Russian-Kazakh border and on a southern route from Milan to Volgograd and Baku. Central parts are the route from Lyon to Moscow in the north and from Milan to Constanţa in the south. The southern route would link Central Europe with the Black Sea area and