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China-Pak corridor against India’s strategic interests

The much touted $46b, 3,000-km-long China Pakistan Economic Corridor links Gwadar port in the troubled state of Balochistan to China’s restive autonomous region of Xinjiang. The project, which is an extension of China’s ambitious One-Belt-One-Road scheme, passes through Gilgit and Baltistan areas which are part of Jammu and Kashmir which is Indian territory, but illegally occupied by Pakistan.

The official Xinhua news agency, in a clear departure from its past practice, mentioned in 2014 about the closure of the Khunjerab Pass and also stated that Gilgit and Baltistan were parts of Pakistan.

Analysts claim that China, before taking up a project of this magnitude, wanted to reconfirm Gilgit-Baltistan as part of Pakistan and wanted to observe India’s reaction which was not severe at that juncture.

China would be constructing several infrastructure and hydropower projects, industrial parks, railway lines and all-weather roads and highways in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. CPEC will also reduce by 12,000 km the distance from Middle East from where China imports its crude oil.

Pakistani leaders describe CPEC, as well as the multifarious projects linked to it, as a great economic achievement for the country and claim that it will solve the country’s economic problems and expedite growth. Government agencies declare that more than 700,000 direct jobs would be created.

Nonetheless, the Pakistani leadership is worried about generating funds for the main projects, which have to be financed indigenously. The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet has set up a revolving fund to handle this, but analysts claim that Pakistan’s economic condition is in a shambles and it will be difficult for the country to create funds for the construction of the mega projects.

There is severe criticism of the project by non-Punjabis as they feel that although the CPEC passes through their areas, the benefits of the project would be usurped by Punjabis.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistani extremist outfit has already claimed the killing of some Chinese in Pakistan. Several separatist outfits in Balochistan are against CPEC and proclaim that it is against the interests of the state. They say they would not allow this project to be implemented.

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