Balochistan’s CPEC moment

Even after the recent escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif is convinced that the resolution of conflicts and their sustainable solution is only possible through a comprehensive dialogue between the two countries.

It is the earnest desire of the government as well as the establishment to engage India in a meaningful dialogue with the objective of achieving lasting peace – the harbinger of prosperity through bilateral trade, infrastructure development and improved connectivity – in the region.

Pakistan believes that both countries must divert all their efforts in combating the social and economic problems faced by their people and not waste any resources in a destructive conflict with each other. Both India and Pakistan must cooperate with each other for sustainable solutions to a number of common issues including, eradication of poverty, energy generation, communication, environment protection, trans-border water sharing and climate change.

Improved connectivity and better infrastructure would bring a new era of prosperity for the region and Pakistan is determined to develop the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a project that will effectively bring economic boon for the whole nation as well as its neighbours. However, despite the good intentions, India has refused constructive engagement with Pakistan and has raised the ante to subvert Pakistan’s development trajectory. India is not ready to accept the change that CPEC is going to bring about in the region and it seems determined to use all tactics and disruptive strategies to undermine it.

Despite the opposition and pressure being imposed by the hostile neighbour, the government of Balochistan is committed to transform Pakistan into a strong economic hub in South Asia. It is also working alongside China to help elevate its status from regional economic heavyweight to a global economic power in the coming years. This is the real reason why Balochistan is in the eye of storm recently.

India’s Ajit Doval’s ‘defensive/offensive’ strategy in        non-conventional      warfare has fully manifested in Balochistan and its fault lines are being exacerbated with the objective of bringing the CPEC project to a halt.

A few months ago, the government of Balochistan successfully uncovered and broke a spy network that was headed by a serving Indian Naval RAW officer Kulbhushan Yadav and was being operated in Balochistan. . The whole network was exposed and around 200 accomplices were detained. Since it is believed that there are more espionage networks currently working in the province, the Balochistan government is committed to devoting all resources in securing internal and external security of the region.

India is not only trying to create mayhem in Balochistan through terrorist activities but is also providing shelter, protection and finance to the separatists who have publically confessed to the killings of over 10,000 people including local Balochs, Pakhtuns, and Urdu speaking communities. Indian prime minister has not even bothered to sugarcoat his words and in his speech on August 15 stirred anti-Balochistan rhetoric in his usual anti-Pakistan narrative.

While Balochistan has been the target of the anti-Pakistan forces for a long time, the tragic attack on the lawyers in Quetta Civil Hospital led to the investigations that unearthed a proxy-linked Indian connection in the terrorist attack.

The Quetta hospital attack was a joint venture of Isis, also known as Daesh, and TTP or whatever is left of it. Besides targeting the CPEC, one of the strongest motives of the terrorist attack was to deter the lawyers’ community to take cases against them. Needless to say that the suspected TTP and the Isis that has its strong presence in Afghanistan is now an Indian/NDS franchise. We have no doubt in believing that the recent spree of terrorist activities in Balochistan and in other parts of the country is conducted by mercenaries working for India whose primary target remains the CPEC.

India knows that the CPEC will be a game changer and will transform Pakistan’s infrastructure development and connectivity. Eventual free zones in Azad Jammu and Kashmir will entice people in Indian occupied Kashmir and also in other parts of India. The economic zones along Afghan border will compel Afghanistan and the ones along Iran border will encourage Tehran to join the CPEC.

The Indian establishment is against connectivity and infrastructure development even in its own immediate neighbourhood. India has never built any roads, rail networks or marine routes to link Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka despite several bilateral agreements.

This is the reason that a very vibrant economic corridor and a resultant booming economy would highlight the disparity between Pakistan’s and India’s progress. India is not even promoting free trade with its smaller neighbours and is not prepared to lower tariffs and other non-trade barriers. However, with the CPEC, Pakistan will enter a new age of economic boom – which is seemingly unacceptable to India.

Even in Iran, no work has even been initiated on the port of Chahbahar. Resultantly Iran is also seeking Chinese assistance and is inclined to join the CPEC project.

Pakistan is determined to take full advantage of the economic transition that China has started to turn itself from a factory house of the world to a sophisticated higher-end innovative economy. Islamabad wants to see the lower-end industry of China to be moved to proposed zones in various parts of our country which will shift its economy from one based on agriculture to one focused on manufacturing. It is estimated that every zone will likely attract up to $6 billion in investment.

Moreover, compared to China, Pakistan’s labour is six times cheaper and its youth bulge is an added asset that will ensure the opportunities presented by the CPEC project can be utilized thoroughly. The CPEC is the guarantor for Pakistan to emerge as the economic centre of South and West Asia. No matter how strong the Indian resistance appears to be, the vision and resolve of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Balochistan government and the valiant armed forces of Pakistan will ensure delivery of the CPEC to our future generations.

The writer is the chief minister of Balochistan.


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