China’s Billion-Dollar Gateway To The Subcontinent: Pakistan May Be Opening A Door It Cannot Close

By Mahwish Chowdhary

Despite decades of mismanagement and a feeble socioeconomic infrastructure, one thing Pakistan benefits from is a strategic location—and China is taking notice.

More than 70% of China’s trade and energy imports travel through the Indian Ocean and the pirate-swarmed Strait of Malacca, both patrolled by the United States and Indian navies. But this possible chokepoint is a security issue for China, particularly in terms of oil (40% of its general consumption passes through the strait). Any sort of conflict could cut off the country’s energy supply, and ships would need to travel an extra 500 miles to avoid the strait, currently the fastest route from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. China, aware of this vulnerability, is looking to Pakistan to provide a shorter and safer alternative.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), first proposed in 2013, is a massive project of rail links, special economic zones, dry ports and other infrastructure projects across Pakistan allowing for direct access to the Indian Ocean. It would connect Gwadar to Kashgar, a major trading hub in China, and abbreviate the current route to the Persian Gulf by more than 10,000 kilometers. Instead of 45 days, it would take China a mere 10 days to get its imports—all while avoiding any potentially contested channels near Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and India, and eventually lowering shipping costs.

The CPEC would also provide China with an entry point to the Arabian Gulf, thus widening its geopolitical influence and possibly its military presence in the region. (Some Indian intellectuals suspect the Gwadar port will serve as a Chinese naval facility.) And it only comes at a cost of about $40 billion.

This isn’t the only investment China has planned in Pakistan. In fact, the money going to the country is double what Pakistan has received in foreign direct investment since 2008, and larger than any shape of assistance from the U.S. The list below (including CPEC) is just a snapshot of upcoming projects, likely funded by the Bank of China, the Export-Import Bank of China and the proposed Asian Infrastructure Development Bank:

  • $3.7 billion for a Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar rail line
  • $2.8 billion for developing four coal-fired stations with a capacity of 1,980 megawatts in Thar (Sindh)
  • $2.2 billion for two coal-mining blocks in Thar (Sindh)
  • $2 billion to build a natural gas pipeline between Gwadar and Nawabshah, then connecting to Iran
  • $2 billion to develop coal-fired generation plants at Port Qasim Karachi
  • $1.6 billion for a hydropower project in Karot
  • $1.2 billion for a solar power park in Bahawalpur
  • $930 million to link the Karakoram highway to Islamabad and Havelien
  • $260 million for a 100 megawatt wind farm in Jhimpir
  • $230 million to build the Gwadar International Airport

It is all part of China’s quest for influence throughout the continent via aid and investment. After decades of shying away from aggressive foreign policy moves, China now wants to play a much bigger regional role and is pushing plans for interconnected infrastructure networks to better link its economy with rest of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Think of it as the new Silk Road.

Continue reading China’s Billion-Dollar Gateway To The Subcontinent: Pakistan May Be Opening A Door It Cannot Close

Aurangzeb Road Renamed After APJ Abdul Kalam, Arvind Kejriwal Tweets ‘Congrats’

Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh

Delhi – One of Delhi’s most elite addresses, Aurangzeb Road, will be renamed after former president APJ Abdul Kalam, and it was announced on Friday by someone who was not involved in the decision – Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“Congrats. NDMC jst now decided to rename Aurangzeb Road to APJ Abdul Kalam Road,” tweeted Mr Kejriwal, who has been locked in a fierce turf war with the Centre over who controls the reins of the capital.

The decision was taken by the civic body in charge of central Delhi, after an all-clear from the union home ministry.

Within an hour, Mr Kejriwal’s comment had been re-tweeted over 900 times and favourited 600 times. Many comments accused him of taking credit for a BJP lawmaker’s proposal.

The BJP’s Mahesh Girri wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month suggesting that Aurangzeb Road should be named after Dr Kalam, who died on July 27.

“As a tribute to the People’s President, I propose to rename the ‘Aurangzeb Road’ in New Delhi to ‘Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road’. In my opinion, this will be a great way of preserving his memories and legacy forever,” wrote Mahesh Girri.

Speaking to NDTV, Mr Girri said, “Do we ever name our children by the name of a devil? We can’t change history but we can try to correct some wrongs.”

Read more » NDTV
See more » http://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/delhis-aurangzeb-road-to-be-named-after-president-apj-abdul-kalam-tweets-arvind-kejriwal-1211984