Tag Archives: economic corridor

A Strategic Seaport – Is Pakistan Key to China’s Energy Supremacy?

By Syed Fazl-e-Haider

A seaport in southwest Pakistan may hold the key to China’s energy supremacy. At least, that’s what China hopes. The Gwadar port, which China has built and will operate in the province of Balochistan, is situated near the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil-shipping lane that can serve as an energy corridor from western China through Pakistan to the Persian Gulf.

Beijing’s pivot to Pakistan is a substantial one. The story goes back to 2008, when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf proposed a railroad and an oil pipeline to link Gwadar to the Kashi port in Xinjiang—allowing China to take advantage of the shortest possible route to the Middle East. In exchange, Pakistan would get an influx of Chinese investment. Indeed, in 2014, the Chinese government committed to spending $45.6 billion over the next six years to build the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will include the construction of highways, railways, and natural gas and oil pipelines connecting China to the Middle East. China’s stake in Gwadar will also allow it to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean, a vital route for oil transportation between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Another advantage to China is that it will be able to bypass the Strait of Malacca. As of now, 60 percent of China’s imported oil comes from the Middle East, and 80 percent of that is transported to China through this strait, the dangerous, piracy-rife maritime route through the South China, East China, and Yellow Seas.

The United States fears that China will come out of its dealings with Pakistan with more power. But it need not be worried: China’s involvement in Balochistan, a restive area prone to insurgencies, will not end well. Many believe Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, is hiding wanted leaders from the Afghan Taliban. Meanwhile, small towns in Balochistan are the breeding grounds for a decades-old separatist movement targeting federal agencies. Increasingly, China has been caught up in the violence. In 2004, three Chinese engineers were killed and nine wounded when separatists attacked their van in Gwadar. In 2009, China shelved its $12 billion plans to build an oil refinery and an oil city in Gwadar due to security concerns.

China’s involvement in the region’s politics can only be bad news. In 2012, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution that asked the United States to support Baloch separatists as freedom fighters. The resolution was tabled, but if the United States ever does decide to involve itself in the conflict, China’s strategic interests will be at risk.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
See more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143227/syed-fazl-e-haider/a-strategic-seaport

China tables railway project linking to Pakistan

By Dawn.com

A research study regarding an international railway project linking Pakistan with China’s Xinjiang province through Azad Jammu and Kashmir has been commissioned by China, according to a Times of India and China Daily report.

The rail link funded primarily by China would connect Xinjiang’s western city Kashgar to the Gwadar deep sea port of Pakistan, said state-run China Daily while quoting the director of Xinjiang’s regional development and reform commission, Zhang Chunlin on the subject.

“The 1,800-km China-Pakistan railway is planned to also pass through Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad and Karachi,” Zhang had said at the two-day International Seminar on the Silk Road Economic Belt being held in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.

Due to geo-strategic implications the project would be hard to proceed with, as it would be a requisite for the rail project to run through the Pamir Plateau and Karakoram Mountains. Although once completed it would emerge as one of the most strategically beneficial transportation infrastructures on the China-Pakistan economic corridor, opined Zhang.

“Although the cost of constructing the railway is expected to be high due to the hostile environment and complicated geographic conditions, the study of the project has already been started,” he added.

President Xi Jinping had also spoken in favour of rejuvenating conventional trade routes connecting China, Central Asia and Europe.

A multi-billion deal has already been signed to initiate work on an Economic Corridor linking Kashgar with the port city of Gwadar through AJK. It also implied revamping the already in place Karakoram road link despite the cynicism expressed by political analysts in China.

The project exhibits tremendous potential as it would enable China to run a port alongside Gulf of Oman which is deemed to be a hub for activities relating to oil tankers.

India however has objected to the project citing concerns that the said route would involve a disputed territory. Pakistan had given the operational key of the port city of Gwadar to Beijing back in 2013, a move deeply detested by India as it alleged it could provide a chance to China to monitor its port activities.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1116104/china-tables-railway-project-linking-to-pakistan

US, UK support for Baloch leader shocks Pakistan, allies at UN

By: Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: Britain and America shocked Pakistan and its allies at the 23rd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s general debate in Geneva on 7 June when the two countries clearly supported nationalist leader Mehran Marri, Balochistan’s representative to the UN, who spoke against the recent elections and alleged that Pakistan was committing rights abuses in Balochistan.

Pakistan is likely to lodge protest with both the countries for taking a hostile position towards Pakistan by intervening on behalf of Mehran Marri who alleged that the recent elections exposed the “farce that the Pakistani establishment wanted to present as democracy”. The support by the two powerful countries to a Baloch separatist leader will give strength to the view of those who suspect that there are elements within the US and the UK who have sympathies for Baloch nationalist factions for their own regional and strategic objectives.

Marri, the youngest son of Karachi-based veteran leader Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, said that the Baloch didn’t take part in the election “charade” as participating the elections would have legitimised the “injustices against the Baloch people since 7th March 1948 when Pakistan forcibly annexed Balochistan”.

Mehran Marri told the session that one of the provincial assembly member was elected with 544 votes, on a 1.18 percent voters turnout. Pakistani delegate objected to the remarks made by Marri and said that Pakistan is fully conscious of its obligations to protects the human rights of its citizens.

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